We need a slight edge in PR—we need SEO.
Growing up playing hockey, our coach often reminded us, “Second place is the first loser.”
Tough love, I guess.
Inbound marketing is kind of the same. It’s disproportionally expensive to come in second.
But the silver lining is that you only need to win by a little to win big.
And this seems to be especially true for SEO.
The Wimbledon Prize Money
We’re all somewhat familiar with the benefits of finishing first, but we rarely acknowledge how devastating it can be to finish second.
In the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, the male and female singles winners collected £2,000,000 in prize money.
The runner-ups? They received half of that—£1,000,000. That’s a lot of money, but only half of the winners got it.
The singles winners also collected 2,000 valuable championship points, whereas the male runner-up collected 1,200 points and the female runner-up 1,300 points.
In addition to prize money, there’s the massive publicity boost that comes from winning the Wimbledon tournament. Including the effects on sponsorships and fanbase growth.
“To the victor go the spoils,” right?
In the case of Wimbledon, we rarely encounter tournament winners that are twice as good as their finalist opponents.
In other instances, the runner-up fair even worse. If ten companies compete for a single customer, nine out of ten will lose out on 100%. And it doesn’t matter how small the losing margin was.
The benefits of success are rarely evenly distributed; it’s the natural outcome of the power-law distribution.
The Winner Takes All Principle
Still, the “winner-takes-all” is no new concept in economics.
David S. Evans and Richard Schmalensee, authors of Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms, argue that such markets are less and less of a sure thing in today’s networked economy.
In an HBR article, the authors conclude:
“The message is simple: beware of the siren song of network effects, winner-take-all, and first-mover advantages. Network effects can create great value rapidly, but they can destroy it just as fast.”
The Slight Edge in SEO
A slight edge can have massive effects. The market leader might only have to be 1% better than their closest competitor to win 80–90% more business.
Finishing second in SEO is long-term expensive. Because most of the time, the winner does take the most of it.
As for SEO, the slight edge seems to be of significant importance:
If you manage to rank in Google, it matters that organic first-page results will collect 90% of all traffic. The first, second, and third organic search results will attract 61% clicks. And out of all the traffic, the number one organic search result will collect 33% of all traffic while the second organic search result will get nearly half—17,6% (The First Page of Google by the Numbers).
As any social media natural will tell you, there are plenty of online tactics to take advantage of the slight edge. One instance is where you strive to build content skyscrapers (also known as the skyscraper technique) by barely adding just enough quality to push yourself onto the top position.
Either you go after it (a top keyword rank, an interest group or segment, a target conversion rate etc.), and you make 100% sure to get it—or you’d be better off shifting your resources elsewhere.