SEO is the Slight Edge in PR

Miss SEO by an inch and you miss PR by a mile.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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.

Here’s why:

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.

In sum­mary:

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. 

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


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