Responding to a question submitted to him on February 26, 2009, Matt Cutts of Google provided the following answer to someone in the British Isles who wanted to know how to optimize en e-commerce website.

How do I optimize an e-commerce site without rich content?

More specifically, the questioner wanted to know how to improve the value of an e-commerce site that was lacking in rich content.  This seems to be a question that practically answers itself, but Matt gamely treats it with serious consideration and offers a number of strategies to enhance the experience of the site visitor.

In doing so, he lets drop some information about user feedback received by Google. In essence, many users bitterly resent going to a site and finding that it offers no value in and of itself, but merely offers an additional list of sites to plow through in order to reach whatever destination the user has in mind.

This seems to circle back to the argument about content versus links in many ways.  While he does not have a lot of positive advice to offer, Matt does suggest that the site builder put on their “user hat” and examine the problem from the viewpoint of the customer, rather than from that of someone interested only in generating revenue clicks.

He warns against the dangers of creating useless content aggregation sites that serve as nothing more than sub-search engines and suggests that the site operators might find better ways of employing their resources than in creating irritating content.