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SEO: Should You Always Be #1 in Search Results?

When plotting out your long-term SEO roadmap, you might wonder: should your aim be to edge out the competitor directly ahead of you in the organic search results, or should you aspire to topple the current kingpin, the No. 1 listing? I usually respond with a resounding “neither”. Let’s unpack why.

In this piece, we’ll explore:

  • Who is your real competition?
  • The insights to be gleaned from search results
  • The concept of striving to be “the least imperfect”

Who’s Your Actual Competitor in Organic Search Results?

The critical question is, who’s your genuine competitor in the organic search results? Is it the website that holds a rank above you or the dominant entity in the No. 1 spot? Arguments exist for both views.

However, I maintain that concentrating solely on one listing restricts your competitive landscape. Examining the entire search engine results page (SERP) as a comprehensive guide to inform your SEO strategy is more insightful.

Remember that not all high-ranking listings are your direct competition. Some may be untouchable, like .gov websites, Wikipedia pages, or Google’s direct answers. But they can still provide valuable lessons.

A consistent high ranker for several of your target keywords signals the need for a deeper look at their tactics. Generally, everything on Page 1 is fair game, including multimedia results like videos and images. An encompassing approach to SEO strategy opens up a wider field of competition and opportunities.

What Do Search Results Reveal About SEO Rankings?

Focusing on surpassing just one specific competitor (either the listing right above you or the #1 listing) leaves a vast wealth of information unexplored. Also, remember that algorithm updates can cause a huge shift in rankings. If your only benchmark is hit, you could follow suit.

Here’s how to use search results to inform your SEO strategy:

Intent: Search results show the types of content search engines believe align with a query’s implied user intent. For example, if a .gov website or Wikipedia page ranks above you, it doesn’t mean you should mirror them. Instead, analyze how these high-ranking pages are serving user needs and incorporate those elements into your site.

Ranking: Page 1 of the search results is a directory of websites that have met some of the algorithm’s criteria for a particular search query. Understand that no webpage is a flawless example, and Page 1 ranking doesn’t imply identical algorithmic adherence. This means there’s value in learning from each result on the SERP, offering a broad view rather than a single-target strategy.

Should I concentrate on outperforming the organic listing just above my listing or aim for the No. 1 spot in search results?

In a nutshell, the answer is “neither.”

Your SERP analysis should embrace an all-encompassing view. Your competitors span across all results on Page 1. This panoramic perspective offers valuable insights from varied sources, allowing you to tailor your SEO strategy accordingly.

Remember, not all listings on a SERP are your direct competitors. Websites like government domains, Wikipedia pages, or Google’s direct answers may serve diverse functions and require different approaches to rank highly. Analyze why these listings rank well and incorporate relevant features into your website design.

SERP analysis is a gold mine of information about user intent and search rankings. By carefully examining SERP results, you can uncover invaluable insights into the types of pages or content search engines find most pertinent to a given query. Utilize this information to refine your SEO strategy to meet both user and search engine expectations.

Striving for Perfection: The “Least Imperfect” Approach

Given that no website can be perfectly optimized, what’s the game plan? The strategy is to aim to be the “least imperfect” among your competitors.

This means maximizing your website’s optimization, delivering high-quality content, and ensuring excellent user experience. It also involves understanding your competitors’ strategies and tweaking your approach to outperform them.

SEO tools and WordPress SEO plugins can reveal optimization targets based on top-ranking websites’ averages. Remember, even when you’re up against a behemoth, informed decision-making, consistent research, and strategic analysis can guide your competition navigation.

Securing a position on Page 1 is a victory in itself. It signifies that you’ve outpaced millions of other search results for a specific query. That’s your entry ticket into the competition. From there, use the insights gleaned from the entire SERP to refine your SEO strategy and increase your online visibility.

Contact Capstone Digital Marketing Today!

Ready to outrank your competitors with savvy SEO strategies? Don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation today. We’re here to guide you every step of the way by helping you understand your competition, uncovering new opportunities, and providing you with the tools and insights to reach your SEO goals. The race is on, and it’s time to step up to the starting line. Your journey to the top begins now!