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Can small sites compete with big sites with SEO

This is an interesting question that was asked of John Mueller

The basic answer is yes but it’s going to be very hard. It’s not really about large vs small, it’s about how competitive the SERP is.

Here is the transcript

[Question]Within some industries, would it be unfair for Google Shopping ads to run alongside the ads displayed on the top of the search as it pushes organic search results in smaller organisations further and further down the page? Who smaller organisations have a chance and competing with larger companies?

[Answer]I think this is almost like a philosophical question. From our point of view, it’s definitely not the case that we’re trying to kind of like focus on big websites or anything like that. But from from a purely practical point of view, obviously, if you’re a small company and you’re trying to compete with larger companies, then it’s it’s always going to be hard, and especially on the web.

One of the things that I’ve noticed over time is that in the beginning, a lot of large companies were essentially incompetent with regards to the web and they made terrible websites and their visibility in the search results were really bad. And it was easy for small websites to get in and kind of like say, well, like, here’s my small website or my small bookstore, and suddenly your content is visible to a large amount of users. And you can kind of have that success early on.

But over time, as large companies also see the value of search and the web overall, they’ve kind of grown their website, they have really competent teams. They work really hard on making the fantastic web web experience. And that kind of means for smaller companies that it’s a lot harder to kind of gain a foothold there, especially if there’s a very competitive existing market out there. And it’s less about large companies or smaller companies. It’s really more about kind of the competitive environment in general.

And that’s something where you kind of as a small company, you should probably focus more on your strengths and the weaknesses of the competitors and try to find an angle where you can shine where other people don’t have the ability to shine. Which could be specific kinds of content or specific audiences or anything along those lines, kind of like how you would do that with a normal physical business as well.

So unless you have a lot of money or are really creative, you are unlikely to get any results from SEO. Even with a lot of money, as SEO is a zero sum game, you probably will still lose.

Is Google Search dying?

I read an interesting blog post on Google Search is Dying. It’s a great read and some great discussions on it on Hacker News and Reddit.

The gist of the blog post is that the internet is filled with SEO optimised content written by professionals and users no longer trust the results. More and more users are appending “Reddit” to the end of the query, so search Reddit specifically.

I actually do this myself. The web does seem to have gotten worse over time and I don’t know if it’s possible to index and rank it all in a useful way. It’s sort of when Google decided to put Wikipedia at the top of a load of SERPS. In the future, they may well just put Reddit posts at the top.

Is there an opportunity for traffic?

There probably is. I don’t know if the ROI is going to be there but it’s probably better to monitor subreddits where your audience may end up from Google search than to write the content on your own site.

No doubt in a few years marketers and bots will ruin Reddit too but for now, it’s a good place to look if you are struggling with ranking yourself.

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