Once upon a time, there was a chicken. This chicken loved to win. As luck would have it, the pigs on the farm where he lived sponsored competitions of all sorts every week. He competed fiercely, and often won.

After a while, the chicken got cocky. :-) One day, a cow dropped by to tell him about the next day's race. The cow droned on about the course and the rules. "Ho, hum," the chicken thought, and his mind began to drift.

The next day, he showed up at the starting line, ready to run. The gun sounded (how the pigs got ahold of a gun, I'll never know), and off he shot like a bullet.

Everyone else must have eaten something funny that morning, because the chicken's lead grew much faster than usual. In a minute and a half, he finished the course and sat down to watch everyone else.

7 minutes later, a horse crossed the finish line in second place. Over the new few minutes, the rest of the competitors completed the course.

When they'd all finished, the head pig stood up to pass out prizes. "First place goes to the horse," he said.

The horse?! The chicken couldn't believe his ears! Maybe he'd been so far ahead, they'd forgotten he'd been in the race.

"Excuse me, but I believe I crossed the finish line first, in under 2 minutes," he said, trying not to sound too proud.

"Oh?" said the pig. "Let me check." The pig picked up a box that was sitting next to the finish line and fished around in it for a few seconds. "I'm sorry, I don't see your light bulb," he said at length.

"My light bulb? What light bulb?"

"The light bulb you were supposed to drag, unbroken, around the race course."

If you want to win the prize, it helps to know the rules of the race.

Search engine optimization isn't only about getting the top spot in Google. It's also about what's going to happen when you get there (or get close).

Last month, Keith Baxter wrote a post about how he sometimes gets more clicks from a #5 listing than from a #1 listing:

Reader Comment:
Lee Davis said:
Have to tell you, Antone, I haven't been this sore in a LONG time (just got up off the floor after laughing for, like, five minutes - this'll make a great party joke!). I wish you had put this info out a few weeks ago when I was redesigning my site ...
(join the conversation below)

In one of my markets, I own the top 6 positions with 6 different sites (all focused on the same keyword).

Position #5 get MORE organic traffic than spot #1.

The DIFFERENCE is that the title on the site in position #5 is a direct response call to action.

You could work your tail off and use every trick in the book to grab the coveted top spot for your primary keyword, and still lose the race if the #5 competitor knows this one rule: a direct response call to action in your page title will get you more clicks.

On the flip side, you could save yourself a lot of work and still reach your traffic goals, even without grabbing the top spot, if you know the rules of the race.

Of course, a good call to action in the #1 spot would be even better.

If you haven't optimized your page titles to maximize click-through, now would be a good time to stop running the SEO race and go get a light bulb.

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