As Google’s algorithm evolves, is it better to have exceptional links and mediocre content, or exceptional content and mediocre links?
Google always has to trade off the balance between authority and topicality. If somebody types in “Viagra”, which is one of the most spammed terms in the world, you want something that is about Viagra, you do not just want something that has a lot of authority, like Newsweek or Times, that is talking about right in an article and they have one mention of Viagra, where they say: “Oh, this is something like Viagra”, just to throw off a phrase.
You do want authority, you want the sites that are trustworthy, that are reputable, but you also want topicality, you do not want something that is off topic. You want it to be about what the user typed in. So we try to find a good balance there. I would try to say: have a well-rounded site. Great content has to be the foundation of any good site, because mediocre content tends not to attract exceptional links by itself, and if you’re trying to get exceptional links on really really crapy content you are going be pushing up hill, it is going to be harder to get those links, you are going to have to do stuff that we consider bad or scuzzy for the web, like paying for them.
It is much better to have great content (you get those links naturally) and then you have both. You get great content and you get great links. Then, trying to have something that’s really really not that interesting and trying to just push, push and push and bug people and send out spam emails and ask for links and all those sorts of things… You want to have a well-rounded site and one of the best ways to do that is to have fantastic, interesting, useful content, great resources, great information and then that naturally attracts the links. And then search engines want to reflect the fact that the web thinks that you are interesting or important or helpful.
by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team