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The Truth About the Concept of Content Being King

If you've participated in automotive internet marketing for long enough, you've very likely heard the concept that "content is King." It was in play back in the days when I started researching search engine optimization all those years ago and it never really stopped. There was a dirty little secret that few of us in the SEO community ever mentioned, but it's been safe to say it for a little over a year now.

Content wasn't really king. It was important, but it wasn't king - not by a long shot.

When I started at TK Carsites in 2007, I wanted to prove that point. I was given a single website that belonged to the company that we wanted to rank for the important "used cars" keywords. They had a gameplan that included creating pages for every major metro in the country, populating them with tons of unique content, and playing the game the way that it's supposed to be played. I told them to hold off for a while. This was an opportunity to do some testing.

We didn't add the content... nothing. The homepage was flash and had three words in the title tag - two of them being "Used Cars". I then went through an extremely aggressive link-building process and started attacking dozens of cities. In less than two months, we were ranked in the top 3 for over 30 major metros and #1 for a dozen. These weren't easy keywords. "Baltimore Used Cars". "Dallas Used Cars". "New York City Used Cars". We Google-bombed the site and it paid off. Sadly, we didn't develop the site very much after that, but the point was made.

Fast forward about a year and we started recognizing that Google was changing the game. I was certain that they were heading towards a set of quality-control mechanisms that would make the spammy techniques obsolete. We started shifting towards a content model that included high-value sites, blogs, and guest posting. We still used some of the lesser link-building styles such as directory submissions, but we stopped all forms of footer/sidebar/signature link building. If it could be done in bulk, we weren't going to use it. Google was catching on. I was sure of it.

2009 came and went. No major change. Content was a little more important, but link-building still ruled. In fact, our high-touch, high-maintenance technique was working but not much better than the spammy techniques some were using that we had long-abandoned.

2010 - same thing. I was getting worried. I was sure Google was close. They had to be. Unfortunately, I was getting a little pressure from the SEO team because they were seeing that the techniques that I assured were evil were still working.

2011 - Panda. YAAAAY! No, wait. It didn't address the links. The spammy techniques were still working and my expensive strategy was having trouble fighting off the bulk players.

Then it happened. Penguin. April 24, 2012. The day that I thought would be coming in 2008 or 2009 finally arrived and all of the things I had hoped for came true. Some of our competitors fell of the map, Death-Star-style... "as if millions of SEO's cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

Today, the strategy, a content- and quality-based strategy, is alive and well. Finally.

So what was the point of all that? Today, content truly IS king, but not in the way that most perceive it. The reason that I built a new company that focuses solely on content, search, and social is that the three are now part of the same digital marketing strategy. You cannot do well with any one of them without doing well at the other two. Content is king because the quality necessary for pure link earning and social media marketing is finally bridging the gap. Unfortunately, that's bad news for the vast majority of dealers because the boilerplate content that populates so many dealer websites is hurting you. Chances are you're not really feeling it because you've never experienced the difference; if nearly everyone is doing it wrong, then "bad" is actually average.

Here is a good infographic that demonstrates many of the connections that are associated with content as part of SEO and thus part of the holistic digital marketing strategy, via Enjoy!

Views: 793

Tags: 2014, Infographic, SEO, Search, Search Engine Optimization, Search Marketing


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Comment by Mauro Rodriguez on December 31, 2013 at 12:20pm

You did it again JD Mother Rucker. You always have great info. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Britt Hoffmann on December 31, 2013 at 7:16am

JD, great article! It's great to see an SEO write about the real meat and potatoes of SEO. The car business is flooded with guys still trying to beat the system with link building and vomiting keywords all over their websites. This article is spot on. I'm glad there's someone else out there advocating doing things the right way instead of constantly trying to work loop holes. BTW, thanks for the props you gave Netsertive on Dealer Refresh! Reading a great piece like this shows what a compliment you gave us!

Comment by Alexander Lau on December 31, 2013 at 6:53am

I was the ghost writer for this piece, but it goes along with your article:

Content is King, but it has to be executed Correctly

The dynamic face of SEO has changed and will continue to evolve. It’s not that content has failed to be an essential part of solid SEO strategies; it’s become even more of a vital SEO component today. The impact of content marketing done right is irrefutable and in today’s competitive digital marketing environment, quality content publishing is critical.

One of the most significant components of any healthy website and potent digital marketing strategy is the incorporation of an on-site, seamless blog. A good blog is not only unique and targets a specific audience; it provides informative and relevant content that can be syndicated. Building content within your blog that engages will help your other important pages such as inventory, specials, and the homepage itself rank better organically. Sometimes providing content your audience wants to see first, can lead to a better overall conversion rate. Educational, entertaining, customer experience and community focused content all engage well.

Additionally, sharing quality blog content on social networks is a good way of promoting your products and services. It’s widely accepted to have a 80/20 split, with 80% of your updates not self-promotional and 20% self-promotional. If you use the 20% self-promotional updates to share links to your blog content, you’ll give your audience something more valuable to read than a product or service sales page.

Comment by Alexander Lau on December 31, 2013 at 6:50am

Comment by Alexander Lau on December 31, 2013 at 6:39am

Great article, per your usual self.

Are Keywords Still Important to Google Hummingbird?

Search engine results used to be about matching keywords and phrases rather than the true meaning of the query. While the new algorithm presents a shift from results to answers, keywords will not go away completely.

Hummingbird has confirmed that the majority of searches are long-tail queries with low search volume and frequency. As we know, such long-tail keyword phrases also tend to have higher conversion rates. The keywords within a query are still important – our focus should be on incorporating them naturally into our content. Use grammatically correct phrasing with less emphasis on placing keywords upfront in headings and sentences in an unnatural way. The goal is to provide answers to real-world long-tail questions using natural language.

Here are some topline SEO techniques to follow as they apply to Google Hummingbird:

Technical SEO Foundations

  • Machine-readable content – ensure your website is accessible, crawlable, and indexable. Embed structured data ( and related markup) in your HTML to help Google understand the context of your web pages.
  • Structured data – ensure that information is structured to answer the questions people ask. This can improve clickthrough rates in organic search results when displayed as rich snippets; it also provides the information Google needs for the Knowledge Graph.
  • Information architecture – ensure all web pages are within four clicks of the home page, with simple readable URLs.
  • Avoid duplicate content – use canonical directives to indicate the primary URL you want the search engines to crawl.
  • Build a mobile-friendly version of your website.

Optimized Content Marketing

  • Content is still king – continue to publish fresh, original, high-quality content that answers the questions your target market is searching for.
  • Put visitors first – address the real needs of the people who visit your website and provide them with relevant, useful content.
  • Understand your audience – what matters to them, and tell them how you can help.
  • Be an authority – provide thought leadership on a specific topic and answer related questions better than anyone else.
  • Optimize at the page level – focus on one topic per page with links to related content, use straight forward page titles, synonyms and long-tail keywords.
  • Types of Content:
    • Question and answer content format, e.g. How To’s, interviews, FAQs, answer the 5 W’s, Ask the Expert
    • Wide topic coverage – don’t rewrite the same topic in several different ways, Google knows it’s the same
    • Current news/events; answer questions on current topics
    • Videos
    • Infographics
    • Publish unique information (e.g. proprietary research)
    • Educational resources – build awareness and trust, include target keywords, earn authority in your space

Social Signals

  • Create link- and share-worthy content – make it easy for people to like, tweet, +1, pin and share your content with social sharing buttons on every page of your website.
  • Share your content with your audience on social networking sites that make sense to your business to help build audience relationships and engagement.
  • Google+ Business Page – link your company’s Google+ business page to your website to help ensure your business exists as an entity in the Knowledge Graph.
  • Use Google Authorship – connect your web content to the Google+ accounts of the people who contribute to your website to help build trust with your audience.
  • Get reviews.


  • Increase domain authority – obtain quality backlinks from topically related websites or sections within sites.
  • Expect that most links will (should) be earned passively/naturally.
  • Get to know the influencers in your space – build relationships with authors, publishers and clients who will link to your content.
  • Contribute to relevant online communities.
  • Anchor text – ensure it matches or relates to the web page being linked to.
  • Remove bad quality links – use the Google Disavow links tool if/when needed.


Alexander neglected to give credit to his source for the above "comment" which was taken from the following article written by Lori Gariepy...

"Google Hummingbird: Keep Calm and Optimize On"
Posted December 19th, 2013 and written by Lori Gariepy
Comment by J.D. Rucker on December 30, 2013 at 7:11pm

Jason and Trish - thank you!

Brian - absolutely. That sounds like a great idea and I think Ralph and I should collaborate on it. I appreciate the kind words as well. This is something that I'm very passionate about and I sometimes wonder if it's making a difference. Even if it isn't, I'd still keep at it!

Comment by Trish Rowsell on December 30, 2013 at 2:18pm

Great article. 

Comment by Jason Mitchell on December 30, 2013 at 2:12pm

excellent post

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