Yes, when it comes to SEO, content does have a crown on it’s head.
The value that a website has is normally related to the content (in one way or another) that the website has to offer. The assumption however that content is the only thing that matters is simply not true.
Content is just one of the many search engine ranking factors.
Q: Can you have a well ranked website without any content at all?
On some websites (including government websites), webmasters put a “noindex” tag on the home page which effectively blocks Google from reading the content, but a link to the website can still appear at the top of some searches (just the url by itself, nothing else).
So in effect there is no content on these websites from Google perspective but the ranking can still be very good. A Google software engineer explains in this short YouTube video.
Q: Can search engine rankings be improved without changing your websites content?
Many times, I have been approached by clients who have a good website with good content but they want to improve their search engine rankings.
I achieve that for them, not by changing their content significantly, but by using other techniques that essentially tell Google which phrases are the most important i.e. the phrases that we particularly want to rank well for.
A few weeks later, Google acknowledges the changes and you can often see a new plateau in the number of daily visitors the website gets.
Here’s an example.
The screenshot below shows the increase in visitors from the day that “clean urls” were implemented on a clients website. Essentially this one change doubled the daily visits from an average of 150 a day to 300 a day.
Showing the new plateau after a single SEO change