Content is king is a popular phrase in the SEO community that is almost as old as the Internet itself. Content is king means that no matter what else you do to optimize your website for the search engines, producing high-quality content, frequently, is what makes the biggest difference in SEO.
But is content still king in 2020?
Once a full moon, an SEO expert will come around on their blog and shake the box, by claiming that content is not the most important area of SEO:
A quick Google search reveals that it’s not exactly an original thought:
While I suspect that the motivation behind such headlines is more about click-baiting than anything else, there is some truth to the sentiment.
Content is not enough to get your website to dominate the search results pages on Google and other search engines. Especially since Google started taking labeling websites as unsafe in 2018 if they don’t use HTTPS on their website.
In 2020 moving forward, not only does your content have to be good, the platform you serve it on needs to be:
- Cross-device compatible (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.)
All those technical SEO factors have an impact on how search engines determine the quality of your website/platform.
We don’t know exactly how the search engines’ algorithms work, but we do know that all the technical criteria above have an influence. Google has been open about this themselves, and there’s plenty of documentation on sites like Moz and Yoast to convince any company to take it seriously.
I would go as far as saying that for any new website, technical SEO should be the foundation of your platform. If your website is not new, but you haven’t gotten its oil checked recently, now is a good time to do it.
One of my clients used to have a decently sized blog (100+ articles) that couldn’t even rank in the top 5 on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for their own brand name because their website was unsafe and slow. If you know anything about SEO, you know how bizarre and unacceptable that is.
We got that disaster fixed as soon as they got their SSL Certificate (HTTPS) and started using lazy loading and progressive loading on their images to speed up the website — especially on mobile.
Although I just stated that technical SEO is arguably the most important element of SEO in modern times, I still consider content as the king of SEO, when you look at the bigger picture.
No matter how secure, fast, accessible, and compatible your website is you’re not getting anywhere if you don’t produce enough content to cover a big enough surface for adding keyword phrases that match what people are searching for.
What has changed in SEO over the past 3-5 years is that content is no longer king if you produce garbage content. You used to be able to leverage all types of dirty tactics (Blackhat methods) to mass-produce backlinks and keyword stuff the shit out of your content pages to the point where you ended up dominating those keyword phrases on the search engines.
Blackhat SEO still exists, but the search engines’ A.I is so good nowadays that it can detect and swing the ban hammer (de-index) on most companies that use dirty tactics. That’s great news for anyone who takes pride in the quality of their products and services.
So mass-producing garbage content (and backlinks) are no longer kings of SEO in terms of SEO tactics. Now you have to do hard and meaningful work if you want your website to dominate the search engines for your target keywords:
- You need to produce high-quality content that matches users’ expectations. The more you produce the bigger surface you have for keywords.
- You need to serve your content on a technically solid platform that is safe, fast, accessible, and cross-device and cross-browser compatible.
We need to rephrase the original saying from content is king to something that checks all the important SEO/UX boxes: