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Digital Marketing King
13 min read

Who is king in digital marketing: Content or Backlinks?

Ruling SEO – Content or Backlinks?

SEO – a digital marketer’s best friend and the greatest tool at their disposal; what would it be to you? It depends on what you want out of it. As a digital marketer, many find themselves in the middle of one burning question – are they prioritizing content or backlinks? And hence, content and backlinks are forever locked in a war of wits, a war over who is suited the most to be the King of Digital Marketing. So which king do you support, and whom should you be supporting?


Any digital marketer worth his salt would know what backlinks are and how much they factor into digital marketing as a whole. For the uninitiated, backlinks are those hyperlinks that bring people from other websites to yours. These backlinks work well when you want to increase your website traffic and optimize your SEO for some quick exposure.

Content Marketing

Looking back, like really back, words have been one of the most vital parts of civilization as we know it, if not the most vital part. The same translated well into the field of digital marketing, as content marketing continues to rule this domain since the conception of the internet itself. Through content, you can usher in a huge user base and improve your repeat user base through engaging with your users on a more intricate level.

It is often mentioned, and with good reason, that content is the king of digital marketing. As we move further, insights are provided on these reasons as to why content is king.

Backlinks v. Content

Often, you might have come across a roadblock in your digital marketing campaign, where you get your doubts on what to prioritize. At times like these, backlinks and content rise above all else as viable marketing strategies.

Facts supporting Content:

  1. In case your user base is focused on gaining information, content is your way to go. This way, user engagement is tweaked
  2. Keywords that are organically inserted in quality content ensures more clicks, in turn promoting more traffic
  3. An aware customer is a happy customer. You promote brand awareness through your content, and everyone who reads it becomes aware of your product or service
  4. Content also influences your site’s structure, making it look better organized, and this helps to guide people to resources that you offer

Facts supporting backlinks:

  1. If your website is referred to in other websites, automatically that works as a tweaking force to your ranking in the search results
  2. Backlinks get the attention of crawlers. These bots give you an edge when it comes to the number of visits you get
  3. When you get backlinks from quality sites, your credibility skyrockets, and rightly so
  4. One thing worth mentioning about backlinking is that it is a means to instant results in terms of website traffic.

In 2018, Sundown Marketing Legal conducted a study to gauge the effectiveness of both content and backlinks. They planned on making three websites and noticed how they fared over the span of three months, from Feb to April:

One with just content and no backlinks (Website A),

One with just backlinks and no content (Website B), and

One with both content and backlinks (Website C).

While website A projected traffic up to about 60 to 80 sessions per week, no matter how many times the traffic peaked, it couldn’t sustain the same peak for long as there was no content to ensure that the users stuck to the page.

Website B averaged at around 60 to 80 per week as well but also ranked in google more than website A because of all the relevant keywords. This was due to the organic and natural keywords that were used in the content, making users take an interest without destroying the flow of the content. The curve encountered growth, although at a snail’s pace.

Website C, as you might have guessed, obviously fared a lot better than the rest of the websites as it had the highest traffic among the three. It used content averaging about 850 words, and backlinks were used from various websites. Ultimately, this website shot up in traffic rates, in addition to capturing repeat audiences for the same. Unlike website A, its popularity didn’t diminish over time, and unlike B, the growth of the curve was pretty solid and fast.

Why content is king in digital marketing

Brand awareness is paramount for any form of marketing to flourish. And the ideal way to establish said awareness is through content. Content of optimum quality is sure to get hits on your website, and in turn, improve your ranking in SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

And through this, you get an added benefit, a loyal user base that gets built up through constant updates and advice. In addition to all this, the content also defines what the page is all about, making it the body of the whole website.

Long-form – The burning question

Some “experts” might tell you that long-form might affect your rankings, but that is fortunately not the case. Quality content in long-form always attracts because of the fact that it is explanatory and hence better understandable. Of course, as a user, you wouldn’t want to scavenge bits and pieces of information from the ocean that is the internet.

2012 saw a study covering the necessity of long-form when it comes to SEO rankings. SerpIQ’s study had utilized as many as 20,000 keywords for searching. This, in turn, shone a light on the fact that the content, which averaged more than 2000 words, made the top 10 spots in the search results pages.

Another study from Quicksprout inferred that content spanning more than 1500 words rendered more hits in social media, as it has 68% more engagement than the shorter content.

Renowned search engine giant Google has also suggested that the choice of long-form for your website is indeed a viable option, if not a beneficial one.

One thing leads to the other, and before you know it, your long-form will have attracted more backlinks by itself. And, of course, more backlinks get you more chances for a better SERP standing. Therefore, as bleak as they may seem on the surface, your long-form guarantees a rank boost proportionate to the quality of your content.


To infer, as mentioned, content and backlinks are pretty much like your two eyes. Though one can always function very well without the help of the other, for your optimum gain, you should be using both. However, if you were to prioritize, content is your best bet going forward because people link with your content, while they frown upon just bare links without any content to back it up.

SEO experts around the world are of the same view, that content is more important than backlinks. Content is your way to go if you focus on the bigger picture. Even though you don’t get instant gratification, you can gain a lot more than just a tweak in website rankings; you can gain a loyal user base. And this is the reason why content is king in digital marketing.