SEO Does Not Have Participation Awards

Do. Or do not. There is no try. –Yoda, “The Empire Strikes Back”

In youth events, participation awards are often given out to recognize those who didn’t quite win the trophy but put in the effort.

There’s certainly no shortage of controversy around this everyone-is-a-winner practice. Nonetheless, at its core, it’s about acknowledging that someone tried their best.

But in SEO, there are no participation awards. You don’t get all the visibility in the search results and all the traffic coming to your site by giving it the old college try.

That’s because search is a zero-sum game. If you’re not front and center in the search results, you’re a loser. And for that, don’t expect any slaps on the back or rewards for simply showing up.

SEO does not have participation awards - quote graphic.

From Good to Great

Good is the enemy of great … it’s one of the main reasons why we have so few things that become truly great.Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great”

Solving organic traffic puzzles is a daunting task for most and it is way too easy to just do the basics of SEO (of course, we want to do those really well) and hope for the best.

The fact is: It’s not just about showing up and doing “good.” It’s about being great.

I’ll give you an example of what we’re up against. For years, we’ve had those data points that Position No. 1 gets the most clicks. And that may still be true in many cases.

But now we’re facing more challenges in getting those clicks. Consider first that some results are now competing with Google itself for clicks.

Then add the fact that, for products at least, 70 percent of searchers look for a known retailer when it comes to selecting search results.

On top of that, you have the AI-powered RankBrain, which has been known to study user engagement with the search results to learn the most relevant results over time, and then serve those up.

So you can begin to see that it may not just be No. 1 we’re after anymore — as if that wasn’t hard enough.

All of this is to say that just being “good” in SEO today is not enough. We have to be great to get results.

No Prize for “Almost Ranking”

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. –Former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi

SEO is a competitive sport. If we want to win, we really need to sharpen our SEO skills and then get into the game focused on being competitive.

Participation awards have their place in some scenarios. But in SEO, we have to be in the business of winning. Anything else is just losing. And there is no prize for “almost ranking.”

Want to talk about your SEO needs? We’re here for you. Contact us today.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (2)
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2 Replies to “SEO Does Not Have Participation Awards”

You have explained the topic in a very beautiful and unique way. Yes nobody gives awards for staying on page 2. Marketers will have to pull up their socks and continuously focus on creating quality content that adds value to the audience, get authoritative links, and enhance the user experience for their brand. That is the best way to get higher SEO rankings.

Thank you, Bruce!
This is an awesome article!
“Almost ranking” is nothing to be boast of but position 1 matters!


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