Content Isn’t Always King: The Invisible Webby Awards

posted February 28th, 2013

All of the 251 US keywords that award-winning site Beetle.com shows up for in search are branded, according to SEMRush.

All of the 251 US keywords that award-winning site Beetle.com shows up for in search are branded, according to SEMRush.

This article, called “The (invisible) Webby Awards” appeared originally in .Net magazine, issue 0239. I write the monthly SEO column for .Net, and while I don’t typically blog the columns, I thought it was important to share this one because of the tired adage “Content is King” when it comes to SEO.

No doubt content is a powerful driver of SEO, and this content marketing trend is just the latest indicator of that. However, there are times when even sites with the best content don’t do well in search. Paul Boag recently suggested in an infamous Smashing Magazine editorial that Content Marketing and legitimate SEO are synonyms. Here are four reasons why that’s not exactly the case.

“Bryson Meunier questions whether award-winning content alone is enough to get your site top-ranked
The (invisible) Webby Awards

Sometimes content isn’t king. Believe it or not, having an award-winning site isn’t always enough to make it visible in search engine results.

Yes, Google says in its guide to making a Google-friendly site, “Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do.” But, when you look at sites judged as the highest quality sites on the web – such as the winners of the Webby Awards – some of them are nearly invisible in search engine results. For example:

BLA BLA (http://blabla.nfb.ca) is the winner of the Netart category in the Webby Awards. It’s generated thousands of links and shares, yet only ranks for 10 branded keywords.

The Beetle (www.beetle.com) is a fine example of parallax scrolling – but not of SEO. The site won three Webby Awards. Yet Google only returns it for branded terms, and it doesn’t even rank number one for search term, ‘Volkswagen Beetle’.

Kinetic Fanzine Vol 1 (www.kinetic.com.sg) won in the Best Visual Design – Aesthetic category. It’s beautiful and creative – yet not accessible via search engines. It ranks for eight keywords, only one of which is unbranded.

Sesame Street Muppets (www.sesamestreet.org/muppets) is the official Muppets site but sits bottom of the first Google page for search term, ‘Muppets’. Despite winning in the Youth category and a People’s Voice award for Best Homepage, it’s nowhere to be found for such non-brand terms like ‘best websites for kids’.

While a number of other Webby winners do get a lot of organic search traffic from Google, high quality content isn’t the only driver. Great content or not, good SEO can help sites get the organic search engine traffic they deserve.”

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