Can You Have Good SEO Simply By Having Good Content?

Quality content vs SEO
To SEO or not to SEO, that is the question asked by many bloggers and small-scale business owners who focus on their content alone and are comfortable with it. For some such website owners, some SEO tactics might be out of their scope, for they rely on content quality alone to get through to customers. And it is understandable, because not everyone has the know-how, the energy, the time or the money to go full-scale SEO. So can someone survive on their content alone without having to worry about SEO?

Is it possible to have good SEO by having great content?

The short answer is, yes, it is possible, but for this strategy to work, you need desperately need time and content exposure. Now for the long one;

Search engines broadly judge the quality of the content under six broad categories. This is just an over-simplification, and the actual factors number in hundreds. But here are the six major categories;
  • Keywords & On-page optimization - All on-page stuff and topical relevance goes into this category
  • Content Quality - How good the content itself is
  • Domain Authority - How authoritative a website in general is (PageRank etc.)
  • Page Authority - Based on the links that point to all the pages on a given domain that tell Google or Bing how important those pages are
  • User and usage data - How useful do users find a content on the page, how well optimized the page is, and so on
  • Spam analysis - Does a page contain spam?
The bottomline is, even if you have all others, without Domain Authority and Page Authority, it is almost impossible to rank well for competitive keywords, and very difficult to even rank in the middle. However, it isn't a lost cause, and some marketers have devised a different strategy.

Getting DA and PA automatically

Instead of building links and focusing on DA/PA, some marketers let links come to them automatically. This can be done by focusing on other things that are important for customers. These include;
  • Product Quality
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Offline Marketing
  • Word of Mouth
  • Email marketing
  • Content strategy
For this strategy to work, you need exposure - lots of it. If your content is great, people are automatically going to link to it. These potential people find about your brand through social media, press, email, ads, long tail search, blogs, content, and so on. Focusing on these channels to find people who will link to you is one of the strategies you can adopt if you're not looking to invest your time or money into link building.

It is, however, a very big leap of faith. You're working on the assumption that people landing on your site are automatically going to link to you because your content is so awesome. It is a somewhat naive approach, and might not work all the time. People have all sorts of preferences, and even though this strategy works, it is not for everyone.

The upshot to this strategy is, you're focusing on creating great content which is the ultimate goal. It is a great strategy if you know how to work it. And even if you have link building going on, you can still use this approach to strengthen your marketing strategy and might give you a much better return on investment.

Bottomline: It is possible, but recommended in a few instances only. There's a ton that SEOs can do to optimize and nudge and create intelligent, non-manipulative ways of earning links that are a little more powerful than just sitting back and waiting, but it is possible.

Disclaimer: This post has been inspired by Moz's Rand Fishkin's video on a similar topic

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  1. I think that if you focus on good-quality deciduous posts, and promote them on social media every time their season comes around, the rest of "SEO" will look after itself.