Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam team, has been harping on for so long about how webmasters need to focus on great content and forget about building links. He suggests that if we write great content, people will just want to link to it out of the goodness in their hearts which of course will boost our rankings thus serving all our SEO needs. It’s now high time to demystify this fairy tale and shed some light on the matter.
Great Content Doesn’t Necessarily Attract Links
Great content on blog posts has the potential to attract links (if your posts get noticed) but this is not so much the case for commercial webpages i.e. product pages. The reason being is that people often don’t want to be seen linking to commercial content because it may be viewed as an attempt at SEO, which of course could incur a Google penalty on both the site linking out, and the receiving site..
The second reason is that, there are very few natural reasons to actually link to a commercial web page. For example if a company does something worth writing about, that a blogger hears about, the links that ensue will usually target the home page.
If a company has a product offering that is worth talking about, then of course the commercial product page has the potential to attract some natural links but the caveat is that in order to get bloggers and people on forums to notice your product offering, you will need to market it through other means first. Therefore it’s your marketing that attracts the links, rather than the content.
Take for example the search phrase ‘Cheap TVs’. It gets a whopping 22,200 exact match searches per month in the UK according to Keyword Planner.
The top result is a page on Tesco.com. This domain does not have a blog, yet it has mysteriously acquired 1,848,515 external back links from 28,641 referring domains. You can see a screen-shot of the commercial web page that ranks for the phrase ‘Cheap TVs’ below. The webpage alone has got 191 external links from 48 domains according to Majestic SEO.
Now, let’s look at the great content that must be responsible for attracting all these links. Wow, looks like a pretty bog standard product grid to me. Lots of repetition in the text and the images are standard manufacturer product photos. So, where’s the great content? Well, there isn’t any. The reason being that product pages are often quite limited in terms of what content they can offer.
Unless you’re offering a totally unique product, which is unlikely, your competitors will probably have a similar product page to yours featuring similar specs, images and descriptions etc. supplied by a manufacturer.
If your product pages fit the above description you don’t need to worry too much because as this article’s heading suggests, great content isn’t everything it’s cut out to be.
How to Rank your Product Page
Contrary to what Google says, if you want to rank at the top you need lots of links. Great content has a fraction of the SEO worth as great links.
There are two ways to get links to your commercial web page. One is by building them (SEO), while the other is by doing traditional marketing i.e. TV, Radio, Newspaper ads etc.
Tesco have opted for the brand marketing route which seems to have done quite well for them. But most businesses don’t have a comparable marketing budget to Tesco, thus making SEO the only viable option for them.
Can’t I Use My Site’s Blog to Attract Links?
You can, and this is the only link building method endorsed by Google. But what Google doesn’t tell you is that attracting links to your blog posts is an extremely inefficient way to achieve rankings for commercial web pages.
There are two reasons for this. The first reason is because your company needs to develop a significant following of readers. This could take hundreds of blog posts of great content in its own right. And it would only work if you managed to attract, interest and inspire lots of niche related bloggers with your blog who would eventually link to your articles.
Even if you managed to do all of this, it would mainly be your blog articles that gain the direct links, and not your commercial pages.
There would certainly be some benefit to your commercial pages because of the link juice filtering into your main site through the blog , particularly if you linked to the product pages contextually from within your articles. But the benefit would be much weaker than building links directly to your commercial pages.
Of course this blog method is still a very common strategy among businesses. What I often find is the websites that have had either done SEO link building or offline marketing dominate the top spots in Google, leaving the sites that rely solely on their blog for links eating dust.
The second reason why link building to commercial pages using a company blog is inefficient is that you cant really shout about how great your own products and services are. Your readers won’t consider you a trust worthy source of information, much in the same way that a car sales person is not a trustworthy source of information when telling you how great a car is.
Your readers that do result in leads, will typically not be buying from you for the first time because much of your reader base will naturally comprise of ex-customers as opposed to potentially new customers. These customers already know how great your products are. This is why blogging is almost a form of social media; great for customer retention, not for customer acquisition.
As you can see, the Google-recommended SEO method of acquiring links is not only slow, ineffective and hugely labor intensive.
Enter SEO – the art of building links from external sites directly to the product pages on your site. Of course it’s not condoned by Google. No form of deliberate link building is. But if done right, your articles will supply lots of link juice directly to the web pages that you want to rank high (product pages). The added benefit is that by writing on external websites, you’ll reach a new audience and if your articles seem impartial you’ll perceived as a trusted source of information which can potentially generate new leads.
If you want your product/service pages to rank well quickly you’ll either need a Tesco sized marketing budget or to turn to SEO link building. Check out this post to discover more about link building.