(Part of the series on Sun Tzu's ; The Art of War – from the SEO perspective.)
Sun Tzu said:
The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat, but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy. Hence the saying: One may KNOW how to conquer without being able to DO it
We cannot seek victory by securing our own assets and positions. Ultimately, you must find weaknesses, tactically or strategically, to ultimately prevail. This can be pages ranked above or below you. Against companies not only individual query spaces. It can be considered on a few levels. We consider not only rankings but also budgets. Think big.
But ultimately we can only do our best to position ourselves well in the battle, seek the advantage strategically and come what may. You won't win all the battles, but quite possibly the war. To best position against defeat we conceal our dispositions (make your tactics hard to detect, so they aren't even sure a 'professional' SEO is on the job).
Sun Tzu said:
Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.
Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.
The general who is skilled in defence hides in the most secret recesses of the earth; he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven. Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves; on the other, a victory that is complete.
Right away the old (sports) saying comes to mind; you can't play 'not to lose'. There are times to play it safe, close to the chest, but one also must know when to move. Not to lose, is avoiding aspects that can bring it crashing down (glaring search engine offences). Taking the offence is being the first mover on a news story.
To be successful you need to wield both the sword and the shield. Tactics is about knowing when you are weak. Don't waste resources on campaigns that offer little or you're ill equipped to carry out. Protect those above the fold rankings and go lateral taking #1's on the flanks.
Employ offence and defence strategically.
(tune in Thursday for the next edition)