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.

FAQ: Why is basic SEO not enough in today’s competitive landscape?

Businesses striving to gain online visibility are confronted with a harsh reality: basic SEO is no longer enough. Here, we’ll unravel the reasons why basic search engine optimization strategies fall short in today’s fiercely competitive landscape and how you can adapt to thrive.

The first critical point to understand is that search engines have evolved. Google’s algorithms are now more sophisticated than ever, taking into account factors beyond keyword optimization. They prioritize user experience, mobile-friendliness, and website performance. Ignoring these elements will inevitably lead to poor rankings and reduced organic traffic.

Furthermore, content quality has become paramount. With the influx of content creators and the emphasis on experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T), basic SEO can’t cut through the noise anymore. To be effective, your content needs to be engaging, well-researched, and informative; this requires time and resources.

Link building is another area where basic SEO falls short. In the past, quantity often trumped quality when it came to backlinks. However, today’s search engines favor high-quality, authoritative links. Building such links requires relationship-building, content partnerships, and a deep understanding of your niche.

Technical SEO also plays a pivotal role. In a competitive landscape, website speed, mobile optimization, and structured data can make or break your SEO efforts. Basic SEO often overlooks these aspects, leaving your site at a disadvantage.

Basic SEO practices, while a fundamental starting point, are insufficient in today’s cutthroat digital environment. You must adopt an integrated SEO strategy that includes advanced techniques, quality content creation and authoritative links, technical optimization, and technical improvements if you hope to outshine the competition. Doing this successfully takes expertise, dedication, and the ability to adapt quickly in an ever-evolving SEO landscape.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Your SEO Strategy for Today’s Competitive Landscape

  1. Understand Search Engine Evolution: Familiarize yourself with the evolving algorithms of search engines, such as Google, which now prioritize factors like user experience and mobile-friendliness.
  2. Embrace User-Centric SEO: Shift your focus from keyword-centric to user-centric SEO by creating content that provides value and addresses user needs comprehensively.
  3. Prioritize Content Quality: Invest in creating high-quality content that showcases your experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) in your niche.
  4. Adopt a Strategic Link Building Approach: Move beyond basic link-building and establish relationships with authoritative websites and influencers in your industry.
  5. Implement Technical SEO: Ensure your website is optimized for speed, mobile devices, and structured data to improve its overall performance and user experience.
  6. Conduct Thorough Keyword Research: Use advanced keyword research tools to identify long-tail keywords and search intent to tailor your content.
  7. Create a Content Calendar: Plan and schedule content publication to maintain consistency and relevance.
  8. Monitor and Analyze Competitors: Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and adapt your strategy accordingly.
  9. Optimize for Voice Search: Consider voice search optimization as voice-activated devices become more prevalent.
  10. Leverage Local SEO: If applicable, optimize your online presence for local search results by claiming and updating your Google My Business listing.
  11. Invest in Paid Advertising: Complement your organic SEO efforts with paid advertising to gain more immediate visibility.
  12. Measure and Analyze: Regularly monitor your SEO performance using tools like Google Analytics and Search Console.
  13. Adjust and Iterate: Based on your analysis, make data-driven adjustments to your SEO strategy to improve results.
  14. Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates through reputable industry sources.
  15. Seek Professional Help: Consider consulting with an experienced SEO agency or expert for guidance and support.
  16. Engage with Your Audience: Foster a strong online community through social media and user engagement to build trust and authority.
  17. To stay ahead of the competition, don’t be intimidated to experiment with new SEO tools and techniques.
  18. Educate Your Team: Make sure that every member of your team understands SEO and their place within the strategy.
  19. Maintain Patience: Understand that SEO results take time to manifest, and consistent effort is key to long-term success.
  20. Adapt and Evolve: Be prepared to adapt to the ever-changing SEO landscape and adjust your strategy as needed to stay competitive.

By following these steps, you can enhance your SEO strategy to meet the demands of today’s competitive digital landscape effectively.

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)
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!

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!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919