This is a question that has been hanging over SEO for years. For ages, we have been hearing that content is king; it is, however, great content can appear nearly non-existent to the search engines if the structure of the site is discouraging the search engine’s spiders from indexing it.
I often tell people to think of a very thick book. Say you have pages that are very well-written, but they are jumbled throughout the book in no particular order. Would you read that book? You probably couldn’t get through that book no matter how hard you tried.
This is the equivalent of having high-quality content, but poor technical structure in a website. The search engines can’t understand the story you are trying to tell and, therefore, rank you poorly.
Conversely, if the technical structure is perfect, but the content is too short, or badly written, the search engine spiders aren’t getting enough information to decide where you should appear in the SERPs (search engine ranking pages).
Again, using the thick book example, imagine a fantastic table of contents that really grabs your attention, but the pages have either just a few words each, or are blank as you turn them. How long would you continue to turn those pages searching for the story? The spiders don’t turn too many blank or badly-written pages before doing what you would do and leaving.
The perfect blend of technical accuracy and well-written, interesting content that provides a quality experience for the site visitor is what creates numerous first page rankings on the search engines.
Write your content to communicate with the site visitor, and not strictly the search engines. The search engines are smart, and they can differentiate between content written strictly to attract them, and content that provides a great user experience.