If you run a smaller website, it can be frustrating to know that even though you have great content, you aren't getting as much traffic as a well-known brand. What can webmasters for small sites do in this situation to improve their rankings and beat larger sites in the search results?
This was the topic of a recent webmaster help video featuring Google's distinguished engineer Matt Cutts, who tackled a similar question not too long ago. In it he said that larger websites don't automatically rank higher on Google.
Smaller websites can update faster and achieve higher rankings than the larger sites, which might not be updated as frequently. According to Cutts, sites that are smart enough to be agile, dynamic, have a quick response time, and rollout new ideas in a timely manner, can rank higher in Google search results. This has been witnessed frequently, he noted.
"It's not the case that the smaller sites with superior content can't outdo the larger sites. That's how the smaller sites often become the larger sites," Cutts said.
There are numerous examples of smaller sites that have come along and have taken over a particular market area, Cutts added. For example, Facebook overtook MySpace in social media and Google overtook AltaVista in search. And 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 often higher-quality, more insightful, or delve deeper into issues," he said. "If it's an analytical focus, the analysis is generally more robust. Whatever area you are in, if you're doing it better than the other incumbents, then over time you can expect to perform better."
For a solo webmaster running a site, it can be a much tougher feat to instill changes compared to the bigger contenders that have numerous people working with it. But Cutts offered some suggestions to drive extra traffic in this scenario, too.
"Think about concentrating on a smaller topic area, one niche at a time, and make sure you cover it really, really well," he said. "Then you can build out from that smaller area until you become larger and larger."
Cutts' suggestion definitely makes sense. Rather than attempting to play each position in a large team, be the one who sticks to their area, focusing on the goal and eventually becoming the best player. The same goes with great-quality content - become an expert in a specific niche and soon enough you will be recognized as being the source of information for that subject.
Once you've conquered one subject area or niche, you can then move onto the next one. Before long you will have as much content on a 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 in changing where you go, which apps you use, and which websites you visit, the small guys are able to perform just as well as the larger guys. It's just about having a plan and doing a good job at it," Cutts said.
Producing superior-quality content is one of the best ways to achieve higher rankings, he commented.
Google also recently looked at the smaller sites vs. larger site issue by collecting feedback on websites that aren't ranking as well as they should be.