Content and Links are the Bread and Butter of SEO

May 27, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

bread and butterTo the outside world, SEO is a very mysterious industry with little to no standards, no certification or training programs in any of the top universities, and differing methodologies even amongst the most respected experts in the field. It’s easy for common people to get confused about what SEO’s really do and for newbies to get frustrated with information overload.

For example, many SEO experts talk about the need for link bait, link ninjas, PageRank, branding, no follow tags, paid links, on page optimization, title tags, social media, widgets, product reviews, authority articles, blogging, article marketing, search engine inclusion, site architecture, optimal URLs, keyword research, competitive analysis and on and on and on.

While all of these specific tactics are great methods to use to get ahead of the competition in the search results, the core of SEO comes down to the 2 things: content and links.

The bread and butter of SEO is content and links and you simply cannot afford to ignore these crucial components.

So before you venture off obsessing over the latest search marketing fads, it’s important to strip SEO down to the essential basics of content and links. By assessing specific tactics with this new lens, you are able to make good decisions and invest time and money wisely. The 80-20 rule applies as usual.

Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate what I mean.

Twitter. Have you heard of it? Are you actively using it yet? Everyone and their mothers seem to be promoting it and hailing it as the next great thing. I agree with most Twitter evangelists that it is a great networking tool and an effective method to build your personal brand. However, if you look at it from an SEO perspective and your main goal is to build your site to the top of Google, it doesn’t really make sense to use the tool. Will micro blogging on Twitter build the content on your site? Probably not. Will it build links to help you improve your rankings? Again, probably not. You can be much more efficient by spending your time elsewhere.

Here’s another example.

Blogging. Blogs have exploded over the past 5 years with thousands of new blogs sprouting up every day. Should your company start a blog or is blogging just another fad activity for bored teens with nothing better to do? Well let’s look at it from an SEO perspective to determine whether or not blogging is really worth the effort. First, will blogging build content? Sure it will. Every new post is a new page that is potentially crawled and indexed by the search engines. Next, will blogs build links? Yep, blogs are unique in that they conducive to content that even direct competitors would be willing to link to. Also, blogs foster communities with loyal readers constantly linking out to their favorite posts. So as you can see, blogging is definitely worth it using this system.

Now that you’ve seen the SEO view of content and links in action, I want to delve deeper into each of these 2 components. Why are they so important and why do all other SEO tactics stem from them?

Content – The Bread

Content is the foundation of the web that search engines attempt to index and organize for its users. Without content, there is no Internet. Without content, all of your keyword optimization, branding, and site architecture efforts are completely worthless. Think about it – what good is a perfectly optimized site with great usability features and linking structure if it has nothing but worthless content and fluff? You might be able to trick the search engines for a short while, but in the long term it’s doubtful your site will see any significant search rankings for important keywords. Content comes first, especially when we’re talking SEO.

Links – The Butter

As it stands now, most search engines including Google use links as the main factor for ranking in their algorithms. If you want high rankings, usually it’s going to take a number of high quality links from relevant sites. As an SEO, your main method of promotion should be link building. Forget buying the ad in the print publication or putting up flyers in your local supermarket. Although these methods might be able to get you some indirect links, they are unreliable and your time can be spent much more efficiently online. Focus on link building and the traffic will come.

As a disclaimer, I want to note that all of the views expressed in this article are centered around SEO only. I still think many of the marketing methods not related to SEO are important. Branding and social media for example are important tools for every Internet marketer. However, with the emergence of search and the current dominance of Google, SEO is becoming a bigger piece of Internet marketing every day. The opportunity for SEO growth is shrinking as we speak. If your online business cannot be found in Google, it will likely be difficult to survive over the next 3 to 5 years unless you have a large pool of resources or connections. Use your time wisely. Do or die. Content and links.

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33 Responses to “Content and Links are the Bread and Butter of SEO”

Online Communities on May 27th, 2008

You know, I think I agree with you about Twitter. I am not being arrogant or closed-minded when I say this, but put simply I just don’t have time to use it; I know that it would just take away all of my spare time, which I would rather use to create content and work on my sites.

Sure, I appreciate that Twitter is great for networking but my main goal is to network through my blog where I can build quality, permanent content with lasting value.

– Martin Reed

Gyutae Park on May 29th, 2008

Hey Martin,
I totally agree with you on this. Twitter is great for networking, but what’s networking when you can’t properly run your business? I’d take content and links over networking any day.

Desmond - on May 27th, 2008

Very true on Twitter. I personally think a good content will prompt others to link to it. Thus, creating lots of links and there comes your SEO.

Gyutae Park on May 29th, 2008

Good content is definitely the first step, but sometimes you have to be more aggressive and market the content in order to maximize links.

Dollar_dude on May 27th, 2008

Yes…You’re correct. Twitter helps me a lot not only to build links but also help to get more useful contents for my blog.

Gyutae Park on May 29th, 2008

That might be true, but how much time do you spend on Twitter daily? Can you use your time more efficiently to attain the same number of links and build the same content?

Flimjo on June 2nd, 2008

That’s the 80/20 law in full force. If spending hours on Twitter nets you a couple of visitors, that’s not very efficient. Hours spent doing something else (like writing a guest post or commenting on other blogs) will likely yield more visitors.

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Gyutae Park on June 5th, 2008

Great point Flimjo. 1000 words in a quality guest post will do a lot more for your sites than 100 10-word entries on Twitter.

MarketingDeviant on May 27th, 2008

Love the bread and butter! I kind of stopped using mybloglog and such since it takes away a lot of time in the long run. I guess I have to say goodbye to twitter too, but thank god I used it for only a few minutes. 😀

Gyutae Park on May 29th, 2008

Haha, yeah I honestly don’t know where some of the active Twitter users find all the time to use the tool. Personally I’m trying to focus on the activities that provide the most return.

Real Web Today on May 29th, 2008

As a blogging newbie the terms you posted in the 2nd paragraph are all very new to me. I am one of those 1000 blogs that have just started up each day. Thanks for all the valuable information.

Gyutae Park on May 29th, 2008

No problem, glad I can help. Now differentiate yourself and keep at it so you don’t die like the other 999 blogs that started up.

Flimjo on May 30th, 2008

Great post, Gyutae. I think you’re right in that SEO boils down to two main principles: good content and quality links.

Wisdom on June 1st, 2008

I don’t really understand the hype over twitter amongst bloggers. I never use it and don’t see it being worthwhile.

Gyutae Park on June 5th, 2008

It really comes down to priorities. To some, networking may be an important component that they want to invest in. It’s fun and engaging, but definitely takes up a lot of time.

I agree with you that my time can be spent much better doing something else.

Flimjo on June 1st, 2008

I’m not crazy about Twitter either. I started to use it, but I get virtually ZERO traffic from it, and it’s not like the people who follow me are on there every day checking to see what I’m doing. Seriously, who does that??

wisdom on June 3rd, 2008

I feel like checking people on twitter all the time is just a waste of time you could be spent doing something else.

OpenEnglish on June 4th, 2008

Hi Gyutae! You are so right about the info overload! I’m a newbie, I had never heard of SEO before I started working on my actual job in February, I’ve been trying to catch up with years of SEO in just a few months and I’m about to colapse jajaja
Reading your post left me other 20 posts I should read jajaja I’m from Venezuela, so my english reading speed is not that fast.
Anyways, I loved your post, very useful info for us SEO Newbies. Im looking forward to continue reading your posts.

Gyutae Park on June 5th, 2008

Hey OpenEnglish,
Thanks for stopping by. SEO is definitely something you can’t learn overnight. Rather it’s something grows on you as you gain experience and new knowledge. Let me know if you have any questions and I’d be happy to help out.

Yung Drew on June 4th, 2008

I gotta get on that damn twitter… I’ve heard so many good things about it, but haven’t signed up yet.

Yung Drew on June 4th, 2008

It seems like twitter is just an instant messenger service to connect w/ other bloggers (strangers)… Seems kind of shiesty, though I can see how it helps build traffic… It’s like working on online relationships instead of real-life relationships…

Gyutae Park on June 5th, 2008

Yep, well online relationships are the next best thing since it’s harder for us to meet in person.

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Armen Shirvanian on October 15th, 2008

The analogy is quite potent as the content has to be the bread which is the majority of the material and is necessary for the sandwich. Bread could almost be left by itself, if not for the extras provided by the butter, which is the links that bring in viewers.

Josiah on January 6th, 2009


Chris Peterson on March 3rd, 2010

You are absolutely right content and link plays important role is SEO, if we need to create better link structure then we need quality content.

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