The key to outranking larger sites

By James Riches topicIcon Weekly Wrap

Knocking big names off their perch is possible

If you've just finished creating your new site and can't wait to start introducing your ideas to clients, it can be a bit of a buzz kill when you don't make any immediate headway in search rankings.

After all, if no one can see you, no one can engage with you. This is particularly galling if you can see big name competitors near the top of the rankings who appear to be putting much less effort into their site than you are.

One webmaster was so frustrated by this that he put the question to Google's webspam chief, Matt Cutts, in the hope of finding a solution.

"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."

Matt immediately offers a ray of hope by suggesting that this is not a definite outcome; larger brands have no divine right to rank higher than you.

Indeed, it can be easier for smaller companies to get fresh content out there more regularly, and this is where David can steal a march on Goliath.

As Matt rightly points out, a big brand started out as a small brand, and therefore their site will at one time have been in exactly the same position as yours is now. He cites examples such as Facebook and Instagram that simply got on with producing useful content, which over time has elevated them to where they are today.

Using your time and resources wisely

Of course, no one is underestimating the challenge of a smaller site taking on a well known, established one, but it can certainly be done.

The key here is patience; you cannot overtake your rivals overnight but it is important to keep doing the right things as the rewards will arrive eventually.

The 'right thing' in this instance is regular, quality content that improves the user experience. If you consistently provide this, you are much more likely to catch out a big name that is caught standing still.

While it can be tempting to try and trick the system in order to rank higher more quickly, cutting corners is certainly not recommended.

Google is more determined than ever to clamp down on black hat techniques such as keyword stuffed content or building links from low quality sites, and this can even affect brands, as we saw with Interflora last year.

Matt suggests focusing on a niche to begin with. There will be plenty of time to broaden your field of expertise later, but initially it is important not to spread your efforts too thinly and aim for unrealistic targets.

If you can establish yourself in a niche and become a trusted resource within it, that is the time for expansion and attempting a broader approach. As ever, the importance of quality, relevant and frequent content cannot be overstated.

To see Matt Cutts' response to the question in full, have a look at the video below: