It would seem that both Google and perhaps the SEO industry have oversold the importance of that #1 ranking. #1 does not give a licence to print money. It’s what comes up when you click that “I’m feeling lucky” button, but that alone will not guarantee successful sales growth. There’s a lot more to sales than that.
Great article on the elusive number one ranking in Google. Yes, have I sought the number one ranking for certain phrases. Did I do it arbitrarily? No. I had the hindsite of website stats and sales stats. Using those and the long tail phrases I catch daily, I have been able to rank number one for many phrases that no one else is looking to rank for. And the benefits, many.
I have dealt mainly with huge ecommerce sites. After throwing a behemoth site on the net and getting a few links to it, you are bound to get some hits. Once this happens and you continue general linking campaigns, you can outrank the biggies out there in visitors even though they rank higher for the general keywords. It's all in your stats.