I've been pretty successful at ranking over the past year. In two particularity tough niches I have finally got traction, however I'm noticing that on truly high competition terms the rules of engagement seem to change once you flirt with the top two pages. These are terms that drive TONS of traffic, and have million+ results. I'm not so worried about the top half of page one because its rules by the usual Google Monopoly of cronies: Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, Target, CostCo, and such... but these terms are so valuable that even being on page two drives insane amounts of traffic. I know this because I briefly broke into the second page and it was amazing... while it lasted for a few weeks. What I've noted, however, is that the sheer amount of link authority needed to push up even a single spot is insane at that level. And the constant velocity is bank-breaking. One issue I was running into was that every competitor above me pulls significantly more traffic per day. This is a huge problem in that A) Google loves sites with HIGH traffic, and B) that traffic earns these sites natural links at a faster clip than mine. I tried to overcome this with fake traffic (not the typical cheap bot crap, but high end traffic exchange) and it actually hurt me. So I've since been trying to focus on getting higher authority links, however due to a non-infinite budget that means that I must slow my overall link velocity. This is in its early stages, so the jury is still out... but so far it has not restored me to my brief glory. If anybody here has experienced a similar journey I'd love to hear your thoughts. I've noticed that the game is a LOT different than ranking for even your normal "high" competition terms. Maybe this is a fool's errand, but after getting a taste I am determined to make it!