Content First, Links Last

Reading the question posed by Allegra, “Writing a Formal Link Request” and Nicks reply

Concentrate on writing some outstanding posts, or putting together some great resources on your topic

I was inspired to put my thoughts on the topic out here for discussion.

Obviously we all have opinions on these things, ranging from “SEO is dead”, through to the other extreme of “you will never get anywhere unless you optimise for search engines”.

First of all I very much agree with Nick. A bloggers job and primary focus should be on creating the very best blog possible for their niche. That means tons of quality content and as a bonus any other tools or resources the blogger can create. Without knowing the first thing about SEO it is very possible for a blogger to be a success. You don’t necessarily even need the traffic from search engines to succeed but great content, once noticed, attracts links which fuels search engine rankings as a side effect.

The hard part is creating that great content. OK, you will note I said your great content needs to get noticed, and it is tricky at first, but that aspect gets easier over time. You get better at it through practice plus there is a snowball effect, you don’t need to try so hard once people have heard of you once or twice.

Getting noticed can be part of your ongoing blogging strategy and I am not talking about pimping yourself, just make sure you are a visible part of your niche. Rather than writing “about” your niche, make yourself a member of it. Write content that grabs attention. We have talked about linkbaiting and networking your niche before so I won’t dwell on it here.

This is promotion, not SEO. You might call me on this and argue semantics but I believe it. The end result might be links, granted, but the focus is on people, not search engines. I would much rather have people follow my links than a search engine any day. Attracting the attention of bloggers and readers should be the aim, computer bots are a secondary fringe benefit audience.

Do I believe SEO is dead? For other types of website I guess SEO is still necessary to get that “cheap” traffic, for blogs though other than making sure your blog is not unfriendly to search engines I reckon your efforts are better focussed on content. If you see traffic as a reward for great content rather than a prize for the best SEO trickery I think you will create a better product and see far more success long term.

So those are my thoughts, what do you think? Do you send out link requests, perform SEO, or do you focus on the content? What do you do to get noticed?

6 thoughts on “Content First, Links Last

  1. [begin bastard opinion] This article was wordy and it courted ho-hum comments. The subject of ‘content’ and ‘linking’ is tired. I am left with the perception that you pencil whipped this entry. Bloggers should expect more substance from ‘Performancing’ articles.
    [end bastard opinion]

  2. I hadn’t even considered some sort of a begging letter? (my god but I’m an innocent)

    I am a graphic artist and satirist and I started with a whole bunch of material that had been generated (mainly) within an on-line literary community and decided that an outside site was required to allow people to access this material in a higher definition format – and it sorta grew from there.

    My site is non-commercial so I really don’t give a damn about how much traffic I host, I use Performancing metrics mainly out of a wish to see what is interesting to other people and where those people might come from.

    I’d have thought that Nick’s response…
    “Concentrate on writing some outstanding posts, or putting together some great resources on your topic”
    …was just a matter of stating the bleeding obvious.

    I have got some links on my site, but only to sites that I find to be of outstanding interest and quality. Or of immediate utility. To do anything less would be to play my readers for mugs. Wouldn’t it?

    James Moylan
    the only sane ape in the pack

    PS I really enjoy reading these aticles though, they have proved most interesting and I have learnt a great deal along the way.

  3. My focus is more and more on people – the issues that my audience is interested in, such as originality, pricing and so forth (as well as page for my closest friends in real life who I play Tekken against).

    I’m not sure how relevant random SEO traffic would be so far, given how bizzare some of the search times that people have found me with have been (thanks to the great tracking of Performancing!) but I’d rather build up a core audience of people hearing about me from forums etc and enjoying my post. I won’t name the url (unless asked) but quite frequently my posts are made ‘noted comments’ and from this people seem to follow and enjoy reading what I say. I’ve never bothered with link requests and I don’t think I will, though I might mail some more industry movers and shakers to find out if they’d like to read my content once I have more of it.

  4. Yeah, I do too. Occasionally I will open a link request and they always follow the same boilerplate format anyway.

    “Hi {insert name here, if you can’t be bothered finding their name use their website address}, my name is {insert friendly sounding female made up name} I obviously have never even seen your site/blog but I understand that links bring search engine mojo so I am out begging you to link to me “as a service to your readers” (for my traffic generation and adsense clicking benefit). Please place a link to my v1@gr4 site from your homepage, I have already placed a link to your site from my 10-levels-deep-hidden-from-bots-framed linx0r script generated spam page”.

  5. I nuke all link requests on general principle — though i do read the “thought this might interest you as it’s about xyz” emails from more savvy bloggers.

    and occasionally, i link to them.

    ’nuff said

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