SEO content vs links: which should you be focusing on?

When it comes to SEO for your business, you may have heard that both content and link building are important. Both are extremely important for any website and any strategy. But which strategy is most important for you to focus on? Read this guide to learn more about the importance of content and links for SEO for your strategy and which you should be focusing on to get the results.

When it comes to SEO for your business, you may have heard that both content and link building are important for your strategy. Both are necessary for your website and for driving an effective, long-term SEO strategy. 

Links will drive visitors to your website and high quality, detailed content will help to grow your audience, give visitors a reason to stay on your site and to help drive conversions for your business. 

But which strategy is most important to focus on? 

Ideally, you need to be doing both at the same time. But what if you only have the time and resources to focus on one? In this guide, we’ll look at the importance of content and links for your SEO strategy and which you should focus on to get the best results. 

Why is content important? 

In digital marketing, it is often stated that content is king. A well thought out content marketing strategy allows you to provide answers to your customer’s questions, tell them more about what you do and convert them into paying customers. 

There are several reasons why content can be considered more important than links when choosing between the two strategies. 

Content is specifically for users 

You write great content so that users can find your business when they’re searching for your products and services, engage with your website and hopefully take action that will lead to a conversion. 

Links are not user-focused. You generate backlinks for SEO and to prove to search engines that your site is trustworthy and that your content is valuable. 

Content gives others a reason to link to your website 

To gain backlinks, you need to give other websites a reason to link to your site naturally. Without content on your website, there is no reason for anyone to link to you. Whilst you can build links to your product or category pages, these are not natural links and will most likely be paid for - which search engines could pick up on and penalise your website as a result. Paying for links is classed as black hat SEO, so you’ll need to be careful to make sure the links you build don’t have a negative effect on your rankings. 

Shareable content includes: 

  • Informative articles 
  • Blog posts 
  • Original research 
  • How to guides 
  • Step by step guides 
  • Contextually relevant games or quizzes 

Sharing these types of content will provide others with a reason to link to your website and will help you to drive traffic to your site through other, authoritative sites. 

Content defines the topic of a page 

When you’re creating content about your business and your expertise, you can use header tags, title tags and internal links to help Google understand your content. It also allows you to target specific keywords which will help you to appear higher in the search results and drive more traffic to your website. 

Links are not a key method for defining the content of a page but they can signal to search engines more about what can be expected from your pages when anchor text that is keyword rich is used. 

Content can help with site structure 

Creating a wide range of content on your website will help with internal linking which can help to build your site structure. It will also help both users and search engines to navigate your website and understand more about your most important pages and topics in a natural way. 

Building a natural internal linking structure will allow you to guide users to resources and useful content which will lead them to conversion or to take an action. 

It’s easier to measure the value of content 

When it comes to measuring the value of your content and links, it’s much easier to see the value that content is delivering than links. 

We know that links contribute to traffic and are a huge ranking factor for your site but it’s not clear exactly which links are having an impact and why. 

On the other hand, you can measure the success of content by reviewing how many site visits and links are generated through every piece of content you create. It also enables you to see the keywords that are being used to find those pieces of content to make sure you’re being found in the right places by the right customers. 

Content creation provides a natural way to gain links 

Generating high value content will allow you to gain and create links naturally, rather than having to ask or pay for them. Good content is great for gaining natural links because it prompts people to share, link and talk about it if they find it interesting. 

Without content, it can be difficult to gain links naturally without specifically requesting a link and without paying for them. 

Allows you to rank highly for more relevant terms 

Creating optimised content consistently gives you the opportunity to ensure your website ranks higher for a number of different long tail keywords and makes sure that your website appears when people are searching for terms related to your products and services. 

It will be difficult to drive organic traffic without having any content for Google to index and show to searchers.

Why should you build links for SEO? 

Now that we’ve looked at the importance of content for your SEO strategy let’s have a look at why links are important too. 

It’s easy to build links by requesting that other sites link to your category or product pages but this can result in penalties from the search engines. Google knows that there is no specific reason for someone to link to a category or product page on your website unless its a review article or you have asked someone to link to you. 

A link building strategy is about creating high-quality content which acquires natural links from topically related websites that provide or talk about your products or services.

So, why should you build natural links? 

Links show that your site and content is trustworthy 

TrustRank is part of the Google algorithm that helps search engines to combat web spam and measures trust signals from a website to ensure that ranking signals such as content and links are legitimate.  

If you don’t build links between your site and other sites, Google will not know whether your content is trustworthy or informative enough to be shown in the search results. Google wants to deliver the most relevant and informative content to it’s searchers so it needs to make sure the websites it provides will give searchers the information they’re looking for. 

Links from other relevant and trustworthy sources will signal that your website is also worth visiting. Your link building efforts will help you to build authority on your website and build trust with your potential customers. 

Helps Google to understand your website and expertise 

Google uses links and your content to work out exactly what topics you are an expert in. You can create content on your website to showcase your expertise but links will help Google to understand whether this expertise is real and whether other’s trust and value your expertise. 

Drives targeted and engaged traffic to your website 

Google can scan your website to understand which pages people are visiting on your website, how long they stay and how many people are visiting. This means that any traffic you drive to your site and it’s source is tracked by Google to help the algorithm understand how useful your website is in comparison to others. 

Traffic from earned links is also known as referral traffic and it’s some of the best traffic you can drive to your site. If someone finds a link to your content on another website, in a Google search or on social media, they are already in a consuming mindset and ready to read more information. These people are likely to spend more time digesting the information on your website and will read more pieces of content while they’re there. 

In addition, earned links are likely to be from websites with similar audiences to yours which means any traffic they drive will be targeted and relevant to your products and services. 

Shows Google your most popular pieces of content 

Google wants to show its users the best results for each search they conduct. This means providing relevant and trustworthy results from across the internet. 

If you have a number of links pointing to one piece of content and the people who click on the links stay on the page and read the content, it tells Google that your website is a great option for the search results. 

However, if someone clicks through and then clicks the back button a few seconds later, it signals to Google that the user hasn’t found the information they’re looking for. It is then less likely that this particular page will appear in the search results. 

Your content is no good without an audience to read it 

You might have pages of highly relevant, informative content on your website but, if there’s no one there to read it, it’s pretty useless. 

Links help to build an audience for your content and make sure that it’s found and read by the right people, in the right places. Building up the right network of backlinks will help to expose your website to a much wider and relevant audience. Simply publishing content on its own will not achieve this. 

Content vs Links: What’s the answer? 

As we have already discussed, building a content and link strategy side by side is the best way to gain results for your business. So, in an ideal world, they should work together. 

However, if you can only choose one strategy, we recommend starting with content. Content is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign and will be vital to your whole digital marketing strategy, not just your SEO strategy. 

Links help you to drive traffic and new visitors to your website but if you don’t have anything worth reading or helpful content when they get there, they’re likely to leave and go somewhere else anyway! 

You can learn more about the differences between internal and external links in our blog: External vs internal linking for SEO: which is more effective?

For more digital marketing insights, please sign up to our newsletter

Want more insights like this?
Subscribe to our monthly digital marketing newsletter

*By submitting this form, you agree that Logica Digital may contact you via email with digital marketing advice, news & promotions. You can view our Privacy Policy here..

Blog written by

Amy Ward