If you run a smaller website, it can be frustrating to know your site has better content, but you aren’t getting as much traffic as a well-known brand. What can webmasters for small sites in this situation do to improve their rankings and beat large sites in the search results?
This is the topic of a recent webmaster help video featuring Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts. Cutts said he disagrees with the premise of the question. He tackled a similar question not too long ago, in which he said that larger websites don’t automatically rank higher on Google.
Smaller websites can update quicker and achieve higher rankings in larger sites that might not be updated as frequently, he said.
“Over and over again we see the sites that are smart enough to be agile and be dynamic and respond quickly and rollout new ideas much faster than the sort of lumbering larger sites can often rank higher in Google search results,” Cutts said. “It’s not the case that the smaller sites with superior content can’t outrank the larger sites. That’s how the smaller sites often become the larger sites.”
Cutts said there are numerous examples of smaller sites that came along and took over a particular market area. For example, Facebook overtook MySpace in social media and Google overtook AltaVista in search. Instagram and Pinterest used to be tiny sites as well.
“They do a better job of focusing on user experience, they return something that adds more value. If it’s a research report organization, the reports are high-quality or more insightful or they look deeper into the issues,” he said. “If it’s somebody that does analysis, their analysis is more robust. Whatever area you are in, if you’re doing a better than the other incumbents, then over time you can expect to perform better and better.”
He also talked about the challenges that many solo webmasters have, where they are one person working on the site, but try to take a run at a site with many more full-time people working on it. Cutts offered some suggestions to webmasters in such a situation about what they can do to try and gain some traffic.
“Think about concentrating on a smaller topic area, one niche, and … make sure you cover it really, really well,” he said. “And then you can sort of build out from that smaller area until you become larger and larger and larger.”
It’s a really good suggestion. Don’t try to be the authoritative person on a large subject area, focus on a small area and many have substantial amount of great quality content on it, and a lot of people know the you have the best content on that particular subject, then you can start on the next subject area or niche, until you do have as much content on the large subject area as the big sites you want to compete against.
“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 and changing where you go in which out the use of which websites you visit, the small guys absolutely can perform with the larger guys as long as they do a really good job at it,” Cutts said.
Producing superior quality content is one of the best ways to achieve higher rankings, he said.
[embedded content] Google also recently looked at the smaller sites vs. larger site issue by collecting feedback on smaller websites that aren’t ranking as well as perhaps they should be.
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