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Back-Links and Website Content. Which is more important?

It is a longstanding Google guideline for websites that, “Content is king”, as I had written in a 3/17/17 post a few days ago. I had an objector who claimed that “no matter how good your content may be, your site will not rank well without good quality backlinks”. So which is the real King? Content or Back-links?

I believe content is still #1 because you will have great difficulty getting other websites to link to yours without very good to excellent content. This means content which is, in Google’s words, “Rich and relevant”.  “Rich” in terms of content that is useful, well organized, engaging, easy to navigate, and read, etc.,  as well as being highly “Relevant” to the keyword or key phrase being searched. 

But how does Google rank this kind of excellence when it uses largely algorithms or mathematical formulas?  That would seem to make it difficult (or impossible) to judge quality pages. They can see “keyword density” and total number of words, see charts and tables, and videos, and still direct searchers to unhelpful websites. How does Google judge quality websites for so many millions of websites? Alone they cannot. 

So, Google lets others “vote” for websites, count those votes, and use them to rank web pages accordingly. These “votes” are “recognized” by the number of other related and quality websites that “link back” to that site. So a backlinks campaign is actually a political campaign to convince other good websites to link back to your site because of its quality and usefulness, relative to a particular search term.

(See also that includes a list of sources for back-links

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