10 Years Later, It's Still About The Content

Ian Lurie

Search engines have dominated the internet scene for at least 10 years now. And there’s still only one totally reliable way to gain quality rankings that will truly last: Content.
You can build links, send out press releases, spam blog comments and attempt to game the search algorithms to your heart’s content. None of it matters if you have a 5-page web site.
Sites with lots of quality content continue to dominate the rankings. Sites without crawlable text content continue to struggle.
Most important, search engines still base their rankings primarily on the text they find on your site.
So make sure that:

    • Your site has at least as many pages of crawlable content – content that you can cut-and-paste from your browser into MS Word – as your competitors.
    • You stick to the basic tenets of quality SEO copywriting. Write using a solid semantic structure, and use good link text.
    • You write every day. I’m sorry, but this is the only way to produce good content. You must add to and update your site steadily and often. Daily is best. Weekly is OK. Monthly is not enough. Annually means you should find another job.
    • You are patient. If you add 10 pages to your site this month, you’ll see most of the effect of those additions a few months down the line.

You write with your customer – not search engines – in mind. If you write for search engines you may gain a high ranking, but you’ll fail to qualify most new customers. So traffic growth might not mean sales growth.

  • Everything you write is unique. Duplicate content may earn you the search engines’ cold shoulder. Be sure whatever you put on your site cannot be found elsewhere on the internet. There are exceptions to this rule, but 99% of the time it holds true.
  • If you can’t do your own copywriting hire a professional to do it for you.
  • Writing is one of the top priorities in your budget and/or plans for the year.


Case in point: One of our clients has consistently added 2-3 new articles per week to their web site. They’ve been in the top 5 for their industry’s most competitive terms for over 2 years. While their rankings may bounce up and down, they stay in that top 5 range. The constant growth in onsite content helps them maintain those rankings.
Content still matters. It will probably matter 20 years from now. So don’t neglect your site’s copywriting while dedicating hours or days to your site’s design. You need to balance your time and make sure your site content gets the attention it deserves.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. The other day I was doing some real estate searches and clicked on the 3rd entry on Google. It took about two seconds to see that all the text on the site was computer-generated.
    I don’t remember the exact computer-speak, something along the lines of… “real estate service in the you are happy city of xyz with Realtor best service”. It was mechanical enough where it didn’t read like ESL English.
    What’s funny is that he successfully gamed the search engine into getting a ranking, but missed the point of connecting with the person reading it.
    What you’re talking about here is investing in the lasting value of your web presence.

  2. Ian,
    Great content is what people go online to look for, so the more you produce, the better your site will rank! Thanks for that reminder!
    I’m struggling to write everyday. Maybe I should manage less projects to build more quality ones.
    But that said, great content not marketed well will also be useless, isn’t it?

  3. Great information, Ian. Our main competitor still beats us in the search engines simply for links, and not for any relevant content at all. They rarely update their content, as I update ours at least twice weekly. Quality content does matter tremendously, but so do quality links…in a big, big way.

  4. I agree with this. When I started adding more content my rankings increased. Lately I’ve been a bit lazy and I see my rankings get lower again.
    Besides this I do also believe that link building is still very important too.

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