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General Search Engine Marketing Issues Forum

Can a small niche site compete against a mega-site
in the SERPs?

 2:35 pm on May 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've got a small niche site about "fuzzy blue widgets." I've done the basic SEO that I know and I've got several links from related sites, including many that link to me with that phrase. However, several mega-sites about all types of widgets, including one or two types of similar blue widgets, are presently outranking me.

My site that covers only fuzzy blue widgets and has tons of useful information about them is much more appropriate for the search user than the big sites that only briefly mention them (IMHO). However, it seems that because the mega-sites have such huge PR to pass down to individual pages, I'm having trouble out ranking them.

Has anyone else faced something similar? What can I do to improve my ranking?



 2:50 pm on May 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Create more content about fuzzy widgets and get more links with more than just "fuzzy widgets" get... "cheap fuzzy widgets", "new fuzzy widgets", "company name", "website name", "Cheap widgets".


 3:46 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

AgentQ, small companies and sites always have certain advantages over big companies and big sites. If you're not sure what your advantages are, take some time to figure them out and then figure out how to best exploit them. IMHO, this is the essence of what it takes to succeed as a small business. ;-)

To get a bit more specific regarding your question, you should absolutely be able to outrank them in some SE's at least, but to an extent it will depend upon the category. Do not think just in terms of going out and getting links, however. Think hard about your true advantages. That path will lead you to more effective marketing strategies and tactics, typically ones that will also positively affect your rankings in the SERP's.


 12:10 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

yeah just keep analyzing the bigger sites compared to yours, no site is 100% perfect if you examine them more i am sure you can find some weakness that they have and use it for advantage to your own site.


 12:50 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else faced something similar? What can I do to improve my ranking?

Write content ... lots and lots of good content. Become "the" authority on your topic. Don't think of yourself or your site as "the little guy". You are the top dog and your site should reflect that.

Its a lot of work, but it is an effective strategy. Most of the big sites which have one page of generic information on any given topic often outrank really good quality sites with dozens of pages of excellent info. Its not right ... but its the way it is.

To outrank them, you have to put in the effort to get noticed. By getting noticed, you will eventually begin attracting natural links. Its a very slow process, so be prepared to wait a loooong time and put in many, many hours of work to topple them.


 3:18 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the big companies with mega pages (like that site that is "about" stuff) have a huge internal linking advantage. You have to get a lot of good links to overcome that.

But you can beat them on a lot of long tail searches.


 3:28 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

You have to get a lot of good links to overcome that.

Not really annej, you just have to get a few good quality (natural) links with good anchor text. Really! I have a site which outshines many of the big sites for various keyword searches that aren't what I would consider "long tail". Two words is all it takes. Single keywords searches are admittedly very difficult to beat the big sites on.

But if you provide the information people are looking for, you can eventually beat even the mega sites.


 3:56 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are four big sites that I just can't seem to beat but that is for my top single search word. I do think they have an advantage with thier size and internal linking clout.

I guess my point really is that beating the big sites isn't really necessary. The long tail and even the not so long tail can overcome them if have you have articles with good information on a lot of specific but related topics.

The competition isn't between their homepage and your homepage. It's how well you do with thousands of search phrases that bring visitors to your various topics.


 4:16 am on May 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

Without knowing the specifics, it's hard to know. Personally I agree with both sets of comments. There are some categories where it's just not feasible or wise to beat the top players, if they are big and well established enough. Factors include which SE we're talking about, what term, how competitive, site resources and a slew of other things.

But generally, in most cases, I've never seen a SERP that can't be penetrated. That said, often, it's not the top, sexy, category defining term that wins the game. That's just bragging rights. The winner of the game is s/he who makes the most money, and that's a combination of battling on the bigger terms and being smarter on the longer tail terms.


 11:33 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

many things matter on the SERP's positions, such as how old the site is since google prefers older websites and for internal linkin the bigger websites just maybe have a bigger budget then you, to get effective links, but i believe too that SERPS are breakable you just need to analyze your competition and figure how to beat them


 1:41 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

It appears to me the large number of pages make more internal links possible giving large sites a bit of an advantage. Am I wrong on this? Do internal links matter or not?


 1:45 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

You're not wrong annej. Internal links matter and the IBL's to those internal links matter. All links matter!


 2:05 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Don't forget the age of the site. It is very important. I have a 6 year old site which is able to rank for a couple of keywords which have about 100 million results. The page targeting these keywords only has a tiny paragraph of text, and the rest of the page is outbound links to sites that actually provide the service. I am not ranking because I have a great seo strategy, but simply because the site has aged enough, and has had consistent (same type) content over the past 6 years. I have average PR.


 2:07 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some spot on advice in here from Caveman.

Have you got something you can use as a gimmick that might have some viral potential? This can often be the key to outgunning the big guys.

An online "How blue is your widget" java/activeX/whatever app? Anything like that.

It has to be useful of course. Not always easy, but sometimes if you give it a bit of thought for an hour or two you can come up with an interesting/creative idea.

Don't think "me too" when competing with another site, think "me different".



 2:09 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Big is not always beautiful you know, or useful, or user-friendly or valuable in any other way.

Try to find out how to outperform the bigger competition by offering real value in use, meaning: something that bothers you at your competing sites.


One smart CEO once said: "If you can't compete, DON'T!"

You can't compete with size, pick something else.

That's the name of the game in ANY COMPETITION.


 3:27 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Don't forget the age of the site.

I think many forget about the importance of age. It has taken me 7 years to have top rankings in all of the SE's. No matter how new or large my competitors are it will not be a simple task to overtake me. Many have tried and not succeeded.

There is a reason that sites have high rankings and most are well aged sites. Many expect to achieve the same thing with newer sites, which will probably not happen.

I believe the single most important factor in SE rankings (from experience) is the age of the site. I am thankful for this factor because it will always give me the advantage over spam sites and MFA sites.

I'm not saying that new sites should give up on SE rankings, but they should look for alternative traffic until they have been around for a while.


 4:38 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Bigger sites with products in multiple levels of directories are hurting from the Google indexing bug. If you are competing with only one of their products you might be able to outrank them for that product's keywords if that is your focus on your home page which will have more PR that your product page. Make sure that product's keywords are optimized to the fullest on your home page (remove other text not relevant). You will be competing with them on their PR level however and their age of site.


 4:38 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

The biggest mistake that small sites make is trying to rank for some term they think is their money term. In my experience those terms suck. If you do finally get that term you may be very disappointed on what it brings you. It will bring you lots of traffic but hardly any sales. I read the other day that 20% of searches on Google are terms they have never seen before. From my experience over half my traffic on a busy site is from terms that were only typed once in Google in a 30-day period. Stop spinning your wheels on some term you may or may not get and may or may not make you money. Spend your time getting the thousands of other easy to get terms that will bring you money. I would much rather get 1000 visitors from 1000 terms than 1000 visitors from 1 term. The 1000 visitors from 1000 terms will out convert the 1000 visitors from 1 term every time. Donít give up on the big term just donít spend all your time on it. What you have to do to get all the other little terms will play a role in getting the big term as well.


 5:15 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

not if the one term is "sites where i can buy fuzzy blue widgets now" ; )


 1:12 am on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi AgentQ

Re "What can I do to improve my ranking?"

What do you want your visitors to do when they reach your site? Do you want them to buy a fuzzy blue widget from you?

If you do, make SALES your goal. All the traffic in the world won't help if your site visitors look and leave. Create a compelling sales page and buy some PPC traffic.

OTOH, if you've got an AdSense site, create an info product related to fuzzy blue widgets, and advertise that. You could create a report or ebook on how to use fbw, how to save money on fbw, ec.The people who don't buy the info product may click on an ad. :-)


 6:06 am on Jun 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am not ranking because I have a great seo strategy, but simply because the site has aged enough, and has had consistent (same type) content over the past 6 years. I have average PR.

another proof that PR doesn't guarantee serp and traffic. I've realised that Alexa rating is actually gives a better overview of a site's TRUE importance.

okay, back to the topic.
I'm more into blogs right now, my experience on "real" sites is still minimum. but one of the most effective method I know is publish and ping.

publish, and then spread the word immediately. put your content on one of those press release sites, or get your content aggregated by related (and popular) newsmaster/aggregator sites.


 2:12 pm on Jun 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

exchange links with other high traffic sites!

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