One of the major themes for the past few years in the SEO world has been “content is king.” What this is referring to is the fact that the changes to Google’s algorithm over the past few years have been very effective at eliminating the practice of volume link building as a method of increasing rankings. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of algorithm updates are designed to stay ahead of seo companies and the tactics that are used to manipulate rankings in their client’s favor. Because seo agencies are not necessarily judged on the actual work that they do, but instead are judged specifically on the results they get, the desire to get the maximum results for the minimum amount of work is always in play. Automation tactics for building volumes of inbound links into websites was an effective method of influencing rankings, at least until Google was alerted to the tactic on a case by case basis. This translated to SEO companies using automation tactics to build massive amounts of links into client websites, giving them the appearance of popularity and thus pushing rankings higher for targeted keyphrases. The method of verification of importance on a subject remains links to a webpage, to this day.
As Google got better at understanding methods that are used to build link volumes, they developed methods of eliminating the practice. The major method of cleaning out the links to a website which were build through an automated process was to identify specific blog and link networks that were being used by SEO practitioners, and penalizing websites that exibited a pattern of using these methods. Essentially, it was easy for Google to see who had thousands of links from the areas identified as “SEO oriented” or automated, and the solution to the problem was to punish websites that had links from those areas. The algorithm updates from that point of were designed to not only clean up, but also to punish websites that were in the business of “manipulating website aspects specifically to gain rankings.”
Google’s number one rule is that they want websites to produce and display the best information on a subject, and they will use their algorithm to figure out who has that information. They instruct website owners to simply provide information that is relevant to their audience, thus proving that they are a leader in their particular field. This information comes in the form of content on the website or on websites that are associated with that property. This information is generally housed in an ongoing stream like a blog or information section, which can be updated regularly without upsetting the general structure of the website. With ongoing content updates, a website owner is satisfying the areas that Google has specifically asked for in order to prove you are a leader in the field. The problem with the “content is king” philosophy with regards to SEO is that it leaves out a very specific element, the same kind of element that illudes people who assume that having a website will get you high rankings. Basically, if nobody finds that content then no rankings are produced.
Continually posting new information into your site is one-half the battle, but it will not produce higher rankings on it’s own unless there is virtually no competition in the space. The actual rankings are still produced through links to the site, and this can easily be illustrated when you look at sites that regularly release content on their subject matter being outranked by websites that have not been updated in years. How can a website that produces no new content outrank a website that does regular updates on the subject if “content is actually king?” The answer is that the inbound links into that other site are still providing a stronger base in Google’s eyes, even though the content itself is older. Basically, if they got a bunch of decent links into their site a long time ago, and even though Google has specifically stated that if you produce regular, relevant content on your subject they will rank you higher, Google still uses links to determine good content. You can post it all day long and never get any benefit as far as higher rankings go if you do not understand how to distribute it to relevant spaces where people will read it and link to it.
Content distribution is a necessity with regards to SEO. Without a process of distributing the content you have just created, then it will be factored into the overall general idea of the site, but will not provide the added value necessary to outrank competition that has a larger link base. Google may catch up with them in the future and remove the links, which would inadvertantly give you a rankings boost, but SEO is not the process of hoping that the competition is caught. SEO is the process of pro-actively doing things that we know produce rankings increases. This means creating the best content and then using a process to spread that content around. Without getting into the actual processes of content distribution, it is safe to say that “content may be king, but distribution is queen.”