The importance of being on page 1 of the search results
There can be only 1, well 10 if you're talking about search engine rankings. (From Highlander, watch the long drawn out movie scene). One of the challenges of SEO is that you can't be satisfied with helping a client go from ranking 100th for a phrase to 11th. Sadly, an 11th spot, page 2 in most search engines, will bring you little to no traffic.
Ranking 10th or better is a must
I spent the first 6 months of an SEO campaign moving a client from outside the top 100 for a phrase to the top 15 (not shown). Since then, I've been working on getting them from 15th to the top 10. I've attached a report below showing the progress and traffic resulting from SEO work. The search engine position is indicated by the blue line, and the search engine traffic is the gray line. As soon as the client hit 10th, you can see the traffic starting to build. And the 4 months of being on page 2, resulted in basically zero traffic.
In case you were wondering, the SEO report above comes from a Raven Tools account synced with Google Analytics. Our SEO clients really love these reports, as you get a clear picture of how search engine rank impacts traffic.