(Part of the series on Sun Tzu's ; The Art of War – from the SEO perspective.)
Sun Tzu said;
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
This one is hard to relate, unless of course to entirely take over a competitor is to inevitably buy them out or shatter their brand presence. We can also imply that crushing a competitor on one query space can make them obsessed with 'taking you down' in another. Foster aggression without creating animosity.
A more tempered campaign will enable you to conquer the enemy while not provoking them. Create a sense of futility competing with you and 'allow' them to accept being second best.
Sun Tzu said;
(Thus) the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.
To balk is to counter attack and the junction is you enemies allied against you. We must know the competitors well. When they launch a campaign we must heed and prepare to create a better reply in response.
But when one conducts a campaign, in light of your competitors activities, do not once more participate in long drawn out battles. When they are entrenched in a query space, do enough to keep the engaged, but begin to move to other query spaces while they are distracted.
(tune in Monday for the next edition)