I keep hearing people say that they want to be "Number One" on Google or that someone-or-other is going to get them to Number One.
But - number one for what? There are no search results on the Google homepage: before you see a list of search results you need to enter some search terms. There's no point being number one for searches that are completely unrelated to what you do, or are so esoteric that nobody will ever search for them.
If someone is promising you "Number One" on Google without talking about search terms?
If they do tell you they can guarantee you the number one spot for a particular search term?
Nobody can guarantee your placement in the organic* search results.
Here's what Google say on their SEO guidelines:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.
Matt Cutts released a great video today on this subject (see below) and he ought to know what he's talking about - he's head of the webspam team at Google.
Generally the more popular a search term is (ie, more people search using those words) the more competition you'll have for that number one spot. While there's not a lot of point optimising for search terms that nobody is using, there's also not a lot of point getting a high ranking place for a popular search term if the people using that search term aren't your target market.
There are some great resources (check out Google Insights) out there for looking at the popularity of search terms, but it's not just about numbers.
Ask yourself: What sort of terms are my potential customers using to search?
So watch Cutts' video and let me know what you think!
*"organic" search results are the results that appear in the middle of the screen when you do a google search. not the paid results which are generally on a yellow background and labelled "sponsored links": if you want to be number 1 on the sponsored links that's not so hard; you just need to pay more money than anyone else advertising on those keywords
+ p.s the first few results on google.com.au for "gullible" are a bunch of dictionary definitions.. pretty boring.