What do these three have in common? None of them are real. (OK, Sasquatch might be).

Now, I know…you actually can get to the first spot of Google’s results for a certain search. Someone always has to be number one. It may fluctuate, it may differ based on location, and others might see different rankings entirely, but yes, it is possible. But that’s not my point. The point is…you can’t just make it happen.

Yet we see it all the time: Can someone get me to the top of Google? If it was that easy, everyone would be at the top of Google. See the issue here?

I understand where this misconception comes from. SEOs have been telling business owners for years that they can get a site to the top of the search engines for specific keywords. But if everyone gets the same promise, who wins? No one.

Of course there are actually practices you can use to increase the visibility of your website. Everyone knows quality content that addresses your target audience’s needs is important. And there are obviously on-page factors that matter, but it’s mostly common sense. And yes, quality inbound links are still a signal that your site provides some authoritative value.

But none of those practices are instant fixes. There is no magic word that’s going to do it all for you. And if there was, wouldn’t everyone be using it? (see issue above)

And this doesn’t even take into account the state of the modern search engine results page (SERP). SERPs haven’t been limited to ten blue links for a while now. There are countless rich listings battling for your attention, while organic results slowly rock back and forth in a sea of ads, maps, images, and local listings.

You’re #4 one day, #3 another, then back down to #5 as you bounce above and below the no man’s land of local listings. It’s a stalemate fit for 1917, and that’s enough to drive any small small business owner crazy. And then you’re reminded that everyone can potentially see a different SERP for the exact same search. I know, why bother at this point?

And then you have to know for what searches you want to be “on top.” A high ranking for one page doesn’t guarantee a similar ranking for another on the same site. Sure, it might be an indication that the content on this site may be valuable, but the site actually has to provide relevant value for the second search as well.

It’s a moving target. An unpredictable myth. A mountain range of infinite “tops.” And there is no one-size-fits-all, push-a-button-and-it-works solution. There are no dials to turn or rituals to perform. There’s only good, helpful, shareable content.

Be aware of what people need and search for, and tailor that content accordingly. Write about what your audience wants to read. Write about what they need to read. But stop chasing the unicorn-riding Sasquatch at the end of a rainbow.

Because the top of Google? It doesn’t exist.