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Once your website is following SEO best practices and is easily crawlable and indexable for Google, the next most important step in SEO is to create great content. Creating great content can help expand your keyword universe, earn links organically and even allow you to easily earn links naturally with less link building time. If your content isn’t of high quality, you’ll have to spend a lot more time promoting and pushing your content, and it might not result in many quality links.
If you want to see SEO results (and let’s be honest, see them quickly), where should you start? Should you work on the back end of your site with a technical audit and keyword map, or should you spend your time and budget on content marketing and link building?
Last but certainly not least, it’s time for link building. It’s crucial to have a variety of quality links pointing back to your site to show Google that you are an authority who has something of value to offer the world. But content comes first since great content makes earning links way easier.
This is a tricky question to answer because, in order to have a successful SEO campaign, you need strong on-site and off-site SEO.
We’ve explained previously why an SEO campaign should start with an audit, but here’s the short version. Google wants to provide the best user experience to its searchers. This means that if you want Google to send you more visitors, you need to provide it with a better user experience. You can also broadly lump in other onsite changes in here, like keyword strategy. It does your business no good if you’re ranking for a set of keywords that don’t convert well. By providing a technically sound website, not only will you be rewarded with better rankings, your site will also convert more of your visitors into customers.
Step 3: Link Building.
You need to have a variety of strong backlinks from reputable websites and blogs to show Google that you are are a high-authority site with something of value that publishers want, cite and link back to. The best way to show that authority and thought leadership is by creating a great piece of content that provides value and is something that users will want to read. But at the end of the day, if your website doesn’t provide a great user experience, it’s going to be difficult to rank for competitive terms or convert visitors into customers.
While it may not be easy to say “this is the most important thing,” it’s much easier to provide a blueprint for SEO success—which starts by building a strong foundation.
Every website is a unique snowflake, which means that the tactics that drive the best results for you may vary from those that have the greatest effect on your partners or competitors. However, you’ll never go wrong by laying a strong foundation and building on it with great content and link building. Once you’ve implemented these site changes, how long will it take to see results? Read our e-book to find out!
So, Where Do I Start?
Step 2: Content Creation.
But if you absolutely have to pick just one, start by building your content. It’s the backbone of every successful marketing campaign.
It’s what people in The Biz call “cornerstone content.” That content acts as a representative of your site. It’s the content people will link to all the time because it’s always useful and relevant.
Remember social proof? Say someone visits a site they like and sees it linking to your content. They’re going to think automatically that your site is an authority on that topic.
It seems like their #1 Google-Friendliness Factor is high-quality content that contains useful information.
Think about it like this:
But what do the search engines say?
If you already have an opinion on content creation or link building, read with an open mind. Both have qualities that are worthy of your consideration.
But if you create amazing content that people want to read, you give people a good reason to care, to keep coming back, and to share your site with other people.
The other school of thought says that you should build your link strategy first because they give you an audience.
People love good content that provides value and goes in depth. Everyone says that no one reads on the internet anymore. They just skim.
There are several pros to this approach:
Would you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to advertise an ice cream shop just to send people to an empty storefront?
Well, according to this extensive list of ranking factors from Backlinko, it would seem that Google cares most about factors other than content. And on this steps to a Google-friendly site page written by Google , they talk a lot about links too!
Content creation or link building?
But the people that do read? They want useful content they can share with other people.
Two strategies go head-to-head in a bloodthirsty battle. Which will the SEOs choose as their #1 strategy?
Because that’s what this is all about, right? What the search engines want and how you can “game the system” and get them to like you?
The single most important thing to do.
If you can create content that makes people hyped to share it, then it’ll be easier for you to get links back to your site.
On-page SEO or off-page SEO?
Links send readers to your site and a lot of good content will grow your audience and ultimately drive conversions. But which one do you choose to focus on first?
I’m sorry, but it’s true! Even if you put hours and hours of work into creating wonderful content for your site, it’s no good unless someone is reading it.
Your content is useless without an audience.
Think about the last thing you bought online. Did you buy it without looking at the reviews? Or checking to see if a friend had bought it first and if they liked it?
I know it can be intimidating or demoralizing to create a bunch of content without having a vast audience. But if you create content that shines, it’ll be easier to grow your website and audience with links later.
You have to have the store first before you start running those ads.
Just publishing the content won’t do that all by itself, unfortunately. In the case of content marketing, “build it and they will come” is a cliché that doesn’t apply.
It’s like getting a shoutout from an important influencer in your niche. It’d be like if Neil Patel or Brian Dean linked to us. Or if Tony Hawk ran a website and linked to an up-and-coming skateboarder.
Okay, content should come first because it’s naturally valuable. It is the foundation on which you build your long-term strategy . And if that content is good and evergreen, oh man, that’s good. Really good.
If a tree posted a blog post in the forest and no one was there to read it, did it really happen?
If you create that kind of content, you’ll have a solid foundation for your site’s future.