SEO is a Zero Sum Game

July 06, 2014
Mike Dolpies

The “Zero Sum Game” (reality)

Theory… It’s not really my thing.

I prefer facts and results… and facts about results.

But one “Theory” I deal with often in my line of work is…

The Zero Sum Game Theory…

According to Wiki…
“Zero Sum can be linked to Game theory and economic theory. A zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Thus cutting a cake, where taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others, is a zero-sum game if all participants value each unit of cake equally.”

In our work as web developers and internet marketers the “SEO” Game usually comes up.

Search Engine Optimization.

And when it comes to talking SEO with local service businesses and local establishments too often the “Zero Sum” thing is pushed under the rug.

Not by us…because I like to bring it up.

Let’s explore…

Fact… the amount of Search Marketing effort needed to win is directly related to the amount of completion there is in the market place.

Because SEO is a “Zero Sum Game.”

Let’s use our old stand-by… “desktop search” on Google. Google controls almost 70% of all searches.

And… usually… just for the sake of this post… there are ten results shown when you pop that keyword/phrase into Google.

Just ten… But… what if there are twenty… or thirty… or more websites/businesses that want to be one of those ten on page one?

Well… that’s where SEO comes in.

That’s where the “Zero Sum Game” applies.

You win and they lose there are only ten spots!

And never under-estimate what it can take in a super-competitive market to win the SEO game.

To win requires a few moving parts working together as part of a good strategy.

The truth… I really love games that are not “Zero-Sum.” I love creating.

But you can’t always have it that way. The first step is knowing which games are Zero-Sum so you can play accordingly.

SEO is a Zero-Sum Game!

About the author

Mike Dolpies Mike Dolpies (aka Mike D.) owns “Ocean View Publishing, LLC” - a diverse media/Internet Marketing and Consulting Company. He started his first business when he was just 18 years old. By the time he was 23 that business had generated well over a Million Dollars in sales and was consistently in the top 20% of its industry. He's the Author of 6 different books. His first book, “Motion Before Motivation, The Success Secret That Never Fails,” became a bestseller on He's been a guest on the Fox Morning News several times and has been written about in many newspapers. His work has also appeared on and Fox