Ah, the oldest cliche in SEO. And we’ve all heard it a million times. Content is king.

Every time I hear that, I feel like the dirt farmers in the Holy Grail.

People are all:

And I’m like:

Before I rant I have to mention that I completely agree that great content is essential to SEO. But suggesting that a site only needs to focus on having good content basically dismisses complex SEO strategy and internet marketing in general.

It’s essentially like telling a small business owner “product is king”. Yeah,  just have a good product and it’ll sell itself. Any small business owner will tell you that there’s a hell of a lot more to it than having a great product or service.

Great marketing can overcome a not-so-great product, and vice-versa. But the goal should be to have the best of both, right?

Of course you need high quality content if you want to have a successful web presence. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

The reality for almost any site that relies on organic search for new customers is that the site is going need a full SEO strategy in order to be successful.

Many small businesses (not blogs, but real brick-and-mortar businesses) don’t have  a sexy industry that lends itself to kingly content. A plumber’s website for example, needs to have pages that talk about different service offerings, different locations covered, and needs to target the right keywords.

The writing doesn’t have to be fantastic. But having pages with actual written text targeting the right keywords, and having a logical URL structure will do much more for the site than cleverly written copy.

It’s also very important to know how to appear in Google and Bing local results and how to build local citations. The company also will need to know how to encourage and make the most of reviews.

In addition to a site architecture and keyword strategy, a site also needs to be technically sound for SEO.

Having a kingdom of content is great and all, but if the site is blocking all pages in your robots.txt file it’s not going to matter. If all pages have noindex, nofollow tags, no one will ever see the content. If the CMS is creating hundreds of duplicate pages, or there is a redesign and site reorganization without a redirect strategy, the content might be all 404 pages.

So yes, content is important. But king? As our dirt farmer friend puts it: “supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony”.

The “masses” in this case are all of the things that go into SEO. I’ve touched on a mere few of those things here, but feel free to read Everett’s post on the seOverflow blog about the increasing complexity of SEO, and you’ll see a lot more evidence that while content is important, SEO has no king.