The goal of SEO is to rank your website of choice number one for your phrase of choice.

Not front page, not third or second, but FIRST.

one unique tree

It's that first natural position on Google and other search engines that is the holy grail for search engine optimizers.

This position generally reaps 3.5 times the clicks and visitors as the second spot according to AOL search data leaked a few years back.

And from my experience, users who click on the first listing are more click happy, more likely to fill out a lead form, and more likely to buy something. Because the number of visitors is multiplied by increased conversion rates, the Power of First is exponential.

Don't get me wrong, ranking a website in the top 10, or top 5 is not a failure. It just means there's a lot more work to do. Now hold that thought.

Unlocking the Power of First

4 times 1

It's no secret that SEO is becoming more mainstream.

Chances are, you have self-reinforcing high ranking websites already in your vertical. This increases the difficulty in cracking that top 10, top 5, and especially the first spot.

Part of the reason those top ranked sites are there might be because they were utilizing search engine optimization first. They probably have more links, or better quality links. Their links are probably older, which is something just can't be replicated.

So you are going to have to work a little smarter, and work a little harder than those guys ahead of you had to. If you want to crack into that top spot, it's gonna take work. And there is another good reason for it...

Google's search patent shows that previous rankings for a website or a web page factor in to the algorithm for current rankings. So we can chalk that up as another variation of the Power of First. The Power of First is self reinforcing.

Branding the Power of First

Kid with sunglasses making the V sign

Although we are talking strictly about SEM and SEO right now, the "power of first" is not a nuance of search marketing.

In fact, it is time tested trick that's been around at least as long as print advertising. Just take a look in the Yellow Pages (not the website, the actual book made of paper folks).

There are a staggering amount of companies in each state or metro named things like "A1A Contracting", or "AAA Plumbing", etc. You'll notice the first page of virtually any category is littered with companies who seemingly put branding aside for more direct responses.

But the funny thing is, that being first becomes part of a company's brand. It seems to have a psychological effect that states "AAA Company is Number One for Blue Widgets". Therefore, the Power of First is a brand.

Selling the Power of First

If you're a firm or a consultant who takes SEO clients, you need understand just how big the power of first is, so you can package it up in a nice pitch, and sell sell sell it.

It might help you land a contract or two, but more importantly, it could help you retain existing clients. Say it with me: "the job is not done until you rank number one" (catchy eh? I just copyrighted it so don't even think about it... FIRST!).

Your client needs to know just how much more business they can generate by getting those top spots.

They need to understand why they are not there yet, they need to know what it will take, and they need to know why you can get them there. Once your client fully grasps the importance of the first spot, and how much effort it will take to get there, they will be more likely to retain your services if you've already been able to show them some concrete results.

And since the power of first will either help you land clients, or help you retain current ones. The Power of First is money.

There can only be one number one. :-)

Chris Hooley is an SEO in Phoenix, currently harnessing the power of first across numerous verticals.