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Google: Small Sites Can Outrank Big Sites

The latest Webmaster Help video from Google takes on a timeless subject: small sites being able to outrank big sites. It happens from time to time, but how can it be done? Do you have the resources to...
Google: Small Sites Can Outrank Big Sites
Written by Chris Crum
  • The latest Webmaster Help video from Google takes on a timeless subject: small sites being able to outrank big sites. It happens from time to time, but how can it be done? Do you have the resources to do it?

    Some think it’s simply a lost cause, but in the end, it’s probably just going to depend on what particular area your business is in, and if there are real ways in which you can set yourself apart from your bigger competition.

    Do you see small sites outranking big ones very often? Let us know in the comments.

    This time, Matt Cutts specifically tackles the following question:

    How can smaller sites with superior content ever rank over sites with superior traffic? It’s a vicious circle: A regional or national brick-and-mortar brand has higher traffic, leads to a higher rank, which leads to higher traffic, ad infinitum.

    Google rephrased the question for the YouTube title as “How can small sites become popular?”

    Cutts says, “Let me disagree a little bit with the premise of your question, which is just because you have some national brand, that automatically leads to higher traffic or higher rank. Over and over gain, we see the sites that are smart enough to be agile, and be dynamic, and respond quickly, and roll out new ideas much faster than these sort of lumbering, larger sites, can often rank higher in Google search results. And it’s not the case that the smaller site with superior content can’t outdo the larger sites. That’s how the smaller sites often become the larger sites, right? You think about something like MySpace, and then Facebook or Facebook, and then Instagram. And all these small sites have often become very big. Even Alta Vista and Google because they do a better job of focusing on the user experience. They return something that adds more value.”

    “If it’s a research report organization, the reports are higher quality or they’re more insightful, or they look deeper into the issues,” he continues. “If it’s somebody that does analysis, their analysis is just more robust.”

    Of course, sometimes they like the dumbed down version. But don’t worry, you don’t have to dumb down your content that much.

    “Whatever area you’re in, if you’re doing it better than the other incumbents, then over time, you can expect to perform better, and better, and better,” Cutts says. “But you do have to also bear in mind, if you have a one-person website, taking on a 200 person website is going to be hard at first. So think about concentrating on a smaller topic area – one niche – and sort of say, on this subject area – on this particular area, make sure you cover it really, really well, and then you can sort of build out from that smaller area until you become larger, and larger, and larger.”

    On that note, David O’Doherty left an interesting comment on the video, saying, “I can’t compete with Zillow, Trulia or Realtor on size so I try to focus on the smaller important details, neighborhoods, local events, stuff that matters to people. Focusing on a niche, creating trust with the visitors to your site, providing valuable original content is paramount to success. It’s not easy and takes time and I have a lot of help but it appears to be working.”

    “If you look at the history of the web, over and over again, you see people competing on a level playing field, and because there’s very little friction in changing where you go, and which apps you use, and which websites you visit, the small guys absolutely can outperform the larger guys as long as they do a really good job at it,” he adds. “So good luck with that. I hope it works well for you. And don’t stop trying to produce superior content, because over time, that’s one of the best ways to rank higher on the web.”

    Yes, apparently Google likes good content. Have you heard?

    Do you think the big sites can be outranked by little sites with enough good content and elbow grease? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Image via YouTube

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