In football, there are four quarters to a game – a beginning and an end – a winner and a loser – and usually another game right around the corner that you have a chance at winning or losing. A score is kept and it's very easy to understand how points are awarded. Teams study their opponent and game plan against said opponent before even playing the game. And more times than not, it's not just the skilled and flashy players that you see in the highlights that are the reasons for winning and losing. You have to look at what's taking place at the line of scrimmage and the 'big uglies' that block, push, tackle and hold all game that usually determines the outcome.
If the offensive line is pushed around then the quarterback is sacked, the running back can't find holes to run through and it's a low scoring affair. If the defensive line is beaten up, the ball zips right through them to the lighting-fast wide receivers running towards the goal line and the running backs have a field day breaking tackles and slashing their way around the field.
So for this exercise, we'll equate the search engines to the line of scrimmage – and all the websites listed in the rankings as the linemen or the 'big uglies' (no offense to the web designers, you do beautiful work.)
SEO or search engine optimization is like a football game that's missing the game clock – meaning there is no end to the game, it's ongoing and to have a chance to even lead the game and be at the top takes a relentless battle at the line of scrimmage where, thankfully, pushing, pulling, holding, and tripping is also penalized like in football. You should play by the rules or risk getting caught because of unnecessary roughness or just plain stupidity and illegal tactics.
It's a never-ending battle at the line of scrimmage (search page) because, not only are the other linemen your direct competitors, you're also competing against random websites that may include something similar to yours. Those sites might have a keyword that you have and out in the business world you are not really competitors at all. Unfortunately, search engines don't know that and will lump you into the same group. That's why optimizing your site on-page and off-page is so important for your business and it takes a lot of work to make that happen.
Try this to get an idea of what your website might be up against at the line of scrimmage: Go to Google and enter 'fishing' as the search term, you'll see the normal ranked sites at the bottom and the sponsored sites along the side – also notice this at the top 'Results 1 - 10 of about 140,000,000 for fishing' and that indicates what you're really up against. That's 140 million webpages that Google has indexed as something related to 'fishing'. Those are your competitors whether you like it or not if you have a fishing website (you better be using the best bait!)
And you can even narrow the search for more specific keywords and phrases like 'framed prints' which isn't as bad as fishing with only 5.4 million webpages within Google.
The important thing to remember is that SEO takes time, patience and constant work to take your site from the deep thousands or so within Google all the way to the first search page. Luckily, a majority of those 140 million fishing webpages are not being actively optimized like yours should be. So with some quality SEO work, you should see your site move up in the rankings and eventually be the 'biggest ugly' of them all at the line of scrimmage pushing your weight around and leading this never-ending game.