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The Second Ranked Website Is The First Loser

I think that everyone understands that top-ranked websites receive more traffic, more sales and more brand recognition than lower-ranked websites. But do you know what surprises me? Those top listings also gain a higher level of esteem and authority than lower-ranking websites.

It would appear that search results are perceived to be more of a top-10-best listing than an alphabetical phone book listing. In other words, people don’t believe that a website gained the first position because its company’s name starts with the letter “A”, but because it is inherently more valuable than the other listings.

This is a form of social validation and unconscious preference that is deep-seeded within all of us—the thing that everyone wants or that comes first must be the best, right? In other words, second place is the first loser.

So besides all the traffic and sales benefits your website gains from a top listing, it also gains an important brand value that drives consumer loyalty. And why should you care?

Good for The Small Guy. Bad for The Big Guys.

The good news is that small, unknown companies can glean esteem and authority by gaining top-ranked position within a SERP. A position that can be earned by providing excellent products AND with hard work from a responsible and determined Internet marketing team.

The combination of quality products and marketing is important, because there is nothing more painful than earning a consumer’s distrust. Back in the pre-Web days, one dissatisfied customer would tell 10-20 other people about his or her bad experience. Today, with the ease of social communication, that number could easily bee 100-200, 1,000-2,000, or more. If you earn your top position through manipulation (Bad SEO. Bad.), you are only setting yourself up for failure.

On the other hand, the bad news for larger, well-known companies that simply don’t care about or believe in the Internet, Internet marketing, and/or SEO is that they can actually lose esteem, authority and customers by not ranking at the top for their related keywords.

Have you ever searched for a specific product, looked over the results, saw the companies you expected to see, but then clicked on a listing that was ranked above them? Just to see? In that instant, the older, more established company may have just lost a loyal customer—and the upstart may have gained a new one.

That is the effect of our first-is-best subconscious.

Every Company Is an Internet Company

With each passing day, an older analog generation fades, and the new “Google it” generation grows. It may seem like an obvious statement to make, but with all the debate over SEO being dead or “snake oil”, it was never more true now to say, “Every company is an Internet company, and every Internet company needs responsible and capable Internet marketers.” I don’t want to label it as “an SEO guy” because it is much more than that. But if a company doesn’t have a dedicated, capable resource to look after its web presence, it is only inviting disaster.

I have no doubt that when television, radio or newspapers first appeared, there were entrenched industry giants that thought, “We are already successful. We don’t need to do that.” Only to wonder later how the new company on the block suddenly devoured so much of their market.

Take a new look at your company’s rankings for its related keywords. If you are not at the top—or if there is a relatively unknown company above yours—don’t dismiss your lower ranking as an unimportant “SEO” task that your company does not want to waste time or money attempting to improve. Help them be concerned, and help them take the appropriate action.

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