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Why You Might Not Want to be Number One in Google

I was talking to a prospective client a while ago and she was fixated on being number one in Google for a highly competitive keyword. It’s not that I didn’t have the ability to help her accomplish this as I have obtained countless top 10 positions in Google over the past decade. Her problem was that she didn’t have the finances to have the work done in order to make it happen.

I tried to help her by crafting an affordable proposal that would get her website found on the search engines for lesser competitive (long tail), but equally effective terms. She seemed to still be fixated on her keyword of choice. I posed the question to her about how much business she thought she would get if she were at the #1 spot. Specifically, I asked her if she was prepared to handle the amount of inquiries and customers she would receive if she was #1 for a high level and highly searched term (knowing that she was not based on the size of her company vs. those in the top 10). Her reply was something to the effect of “that would be a great problem to have.” I agree it would be a problem, but I am not sure it would be a great problem for her.

We talked a bit about her plans to grow her business and she really did not have a plan in place, which I am sure would have sent her into panic if the need arose as quickly as it would have.

There are plenty of stories of companies that have grown too fast to their detriment. There are multitude of reasons, but they all revolve around not having the resources to serve the needs of a massive influx of customers all at once. This all has to do with business planning, which is the first point of failure for most small business owners. You’ve heard the saying I am sure; “people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan“.

So my question is not “do you want to be #1 on Google” but rather “are you prepared for what it may look like?”

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2 Responses to “Why You Might Not Want to be Number One in Google”

  • Here is an old school reference some will recognize: Jim Wilson. When he came to Lennart Svanberg’s Internet Marketing Conference in Las Vegas back in 2000 (I believe), he had a profound thing to say to people who want to be number one on a competitive term: Can you afford the traffic?

    Bandwidth can be expensive, and back then it was more than it is today. What’s true is, the so-called ‘Digg effect’ of melting sites is something akin to what Jim was saying back then. Imagine being number one for travel, what that would mean in terms of traffic and new bills. Immense. Can you *really* profit, or would you melt down?

    So, be careful what you wish for. I’ve spoken to a number of people who have at times been number one for search engine optimization. I’ve determined it to not be trouble that I want to invite, personally. It can lead to business, sure, but the offset is all the other stuff that starts happening.

    People will try to take you down and you get so many inquiries that aren’t worth anything that it becomes tough to sort the value from the mess. You invite envy and anger from all the sites beneath you that are trying their best to vie for your spot. You get crawled by more bots, your content and code gets poked and prodded and criticized and mischaracterized.

    Thank you Jim Wilson. RIP.

  • oldschool:

    Disa, thanks for your further insights and validation of my point. Thanks as well for the memories. I do remember Jim Wilson of JimWorld Fame.

    A funny story RE: “be careful what you wish for”. I had a friend who used to work at Yahoo and he had someone ask “can you send me a million hits?” to which he replied “ahh, you want a million hits from Yahoo?” The guy insisted… something about seeing something amazing in his stats.

    Well, the funny thing is that after some back and forth dialogue, he did just that and sent 1,000,000 hits (pings) to the guys site and crushed his server. Then the guy got upset with him. I won’t out him (he doesn’t work there anymore), but I’d be curious to know if anyone reading this worked at Yahoo during that time and remembers that story. If my memory serves me correctly it was around 2001.

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