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Ways for Small Sites to Beat Larger Sites
goodroi

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 1:00 pm on Jan 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

The great thing about the internet is that it is possible for smaller businesses to compete with larger businesses. I am not saying it is easy or that every small business is capable of this. With a good mix of passion and creativity, it is possible for your small website to outperform even the biggest companies.

Find Your Niche
Since you have limited resources don't try to cover the entire industry. For example a huge car manufacturer website has enough writers to cover the entire automotive industry. It would be smarter for you to just pick one specialty niche like 4x4 off road trucks or motorcycles with sidecars. Now you can be the master of your niche and do a great job on it.

Move Faster
The large corporate websites have huge teams and countless meetings for all of these teams to talk to each other. You don't need to waste time on this, so you can move faster and respond to the changing public demand before the corporations even schedule their conference calls. You need the courage to make fast decisions. If you waste time being indecisive, the large corporate competition will catch up to you.

Steal Their Research
I am not talking about breaking into their offices but their are many ways you can take advantage of the research the competition does. When you are at a search conference, look at the name tags and you might come across a loose lipped competitor. At one conference, one of my competitors bragged how great he was and exposed their entire strategy to show-off without even realizing who I was. Pay attention to press releases and industry interviews. Larger companies often give sneak peaks of what they are working on. Also set-up Google alerts for your larger competitors. This will help to notify you of whenever they make changes which you should be able to quickly recreate for your own site.

Develop Brand Advocates
If you do a great job, you can develop of strong following of advocates that will virally spread your brand. This will lead to more direct traffic, type-in searches and other strong usage signals. Make it easy for your fanatic fans to spread the word about you. Keep your urls short & easy to retype into twitter or email. Send out interesting emails that have a stronger chance of being forwarded. Don't be scared about offending someone and avoid being plain vanilla. Develop a personality for your brand to make you unique from the large faceless corporate companies.


What other ways would you use for a smaller site to beat larger sites?

 

hannamyluv

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 6:18 pm on Jan 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

So to really make money in this Internet business

How do you define "really make money"? That is different than "become the new Amazon".

Can you build up a site and sell it for a million or so without those things on the list (well, except for the business plan - if you don't have at least a vague one, you are kinda screwed)? Yes, you can. It happens everyday and you just don't hear about it.

Can you build up a site that becomes a mega site worth a few billion without those? No, not really.

A relatively small site can make pretty good money but still have to compete against much bigger competitors. Sites worth millions are different than big sites. So which are you talking about? You need to define that first.

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 6:42 pm on Jan 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is it still possible to build a new Amazon out of nowhere?

Ask facebook about snapchat....

Read recently that when facebook bought instagram they only had 13 employees. Were a whopping 15 months old...

Little sites still go huge.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 7:18 pm on Jan 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

The issue is not competing with the big guys, the issue is coming up with a better idea and better execution in the first place.

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 7:30 pm on Jan 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Ways for Small Sites to Beat Larger Sites

I kinda read that as "How small sites can thrive in the shadows of the big sites"

Makes me think of the small local Mom and Pop shops that thrive in the shadow of Walmart.

Adapt.

.

graeme_p

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 5:04 pm on Jan 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

There are far fewer small shops than there used to be. The economy has been drifting to towards larger businesses in general.

Like everything else, there will be some small successful businesses on the web, but the general drift is inexorable (short of some sort of drastic political, economic, or technological change).

SmallP

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 7:23 pm on Jan 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

Small is the new big :)

Big = cumbersome. Small means you can move fast. React to events quickly. Move with trends in your area before the big site has even booked the meeting in or commissioned the article.

Big = boring. Have you noticed how many big sites look the same? Present their information in the same way? Offer the same products? Small means you can be different, exciting, quirky even. And you can make an impression.

Big = impersonal. Small can be personal, if you put the effort in. And personal service, and personality, keep visitors coming back.

Big = clunky. And often slow. Be fast, be nimble. Load quickly.

Big = fluffy. As in lots of people needed to make decisions, to form strategies, to get funding, to sign off on things. Small gives so much more flexibility. Take advantage of it.

Big = uniformity. Big sites, managed by many people, need to conform. Often individual pages suffer as a result and huge numbers of pages are lost, don't show up in search engines etc. Small sites can optimise each page and make each page worth visiting.

Small sites can be innovative, cutting edge, exciting.

And remember, small sites don't need to grow big to compete with big sites. They can live alongside each other. They can serve different purposes.

MikeNoLastName

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 9:07 pm on Jan 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

It is quite tiring when you are a 1 or 2 person website and you're up against a multi-million dollar conglomerate with hundreds of employees who basically copied your site throws millions into TV ads/shows, print ads, sponsoring high profile events (because they have visibility and clout) etc. so as to dominate the market and make everyone think THEY are the ONLY site like them, and can do 100 times the online production, deals and sales, because they have influential connections and people "recognize" their name now and from their prior businesses. Yes you may be able to turn on a dime, and create something new and creative (tiring to have to constantly innovate and not be able to sit back on your laurels), but they watch you like a hawk and can duplicate whatever new innovation you come up with, in a week with their manpower.

Near and convenient is not a factor online. It is just as easy to type one url as another (especially if they literally spent $1 million on a short and easy to remember domain name). All else being equal, lowest price is mostly the deciding factor online now. I've seen many of our similarly sized competitors give up and fade away. Thus the only way we have been able to keep ahead of the big guys and "survive", (other than having good backlinks and SERPs from being around a few years before them) is to do the ONE thing they won't or can't do. Give it away and sell ads to their competitors! Either underprice them on everything they sell (usually difficult, since, as a much bigger company they are able to negotiate bigger margins and deals) by GIVING everything away at cost or less or link folks to where to get a manufacturer discount or find the item cheaper than the big guys, just to attract repeat visitors and then selling Gadsense ads or direct sales ads to support your site. In other words, become mostly informational on where to find the same item the cheapest. DO keep in mind, this can result in numerous threats on your life and property when dealing with a certain type of "big guys" whose business you are detouring.

P.S.
"Have you noticed how many big sites look the same? Present their information in the same way?"

Nowadays you HAVE to look the same as the top listed sites (and/or Wiki-), because that is obviously what G wants. Uniformity so they can figure out what your site is about. Otherwise you won't get onto the top page.

iamlost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 5:17 pm on Jan 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

IF one confines the competition between big and small business to the results pages of Google it certainly can be an uphill grind.

IF one simply treats Google as one of many referrers then the options open rather substantially.

Of course this is the Google SEO forum and most smaller webdevs are Google fixated.

lgn1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 8:35 pm on Jan 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

All else being equal, lowest price is mostly the deciding factor online now


For some things yes, but if this is the case, you are in the wrong niche. There are plenty of niche area where there are plenty of impulse shoppers.

I have even seen some sites that sell above MSRP, and have been around for 15 years.

Maybe we should start looking at things another way; how can we make as much profit as possible by doing the least amount of work, rather taking the exact opposite approach (i.e. Amazon)

MikeNoLastName

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 9:50 am on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

"For some things yes, but if this is the case, you are in the wrong niche."

Perhaps. Interesting perspective Ign1. Although we have a couple sites dedicated to 'more offbeat' niches and the traffic, even when we are in the top 3 SE positions, is just not there to float-the-boat to dedicate the labor to keep it current.

"I have even seen some sites that sell above MSRP,"
You referring to concert ticket scalpers ;-)?

I'm totally for making more profit with less work (I planned to be retired by now - and probably would have been if I'd stayed with computer programming) but in my experience just about any popular niche, where there is a buck to be made, there's bound to be a gaggle of geeks who will do their best to snatch their part of that buck. Even more so in popular niches which almost everyone needs. Unfortunately there are so many television ads these days for sites in the travel/tourism industry, (an area we literally pioneered in the early 90's) especially the more recent type of sites which "compare prices for the lowest rates," that customers have been wholly 'conditioned' to comparison shop for the best rates.

Granted, I guess I can't complain as it seems from anecdotal info we are doing better than many, but it's definitely not the 2006-07 environment which we had grown accustomed to. Fortunately we invested those funds in other areas.

Likewise, I don't know where you live, but here in the USA I have seen many people browsing the electronics stores, playing with items, then scanning barcodes with their smartphones and using apps to compare prices between Amaz, et. al. and the brick and mortar.

iamlost: Google is probably our primary search results but probably only about 40% of our overall incoming traffic. We have a LOT of return visitors. We do social media (which so do our competitors... in spades, with video productions and contests for large free prizes), PPC ads (which they 10x our bids, so we turn to long-tail keywords), and we do trade-shows which surprisingly they do not, probably because it is beneath them and not enough bang for the buck, they think, but I think with proper targeting we get a LOT of long-time repeat visitors.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4635503 posted 4:27 pm on Jan 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Yep, but the bottom line is, there will always always always be someone out there willing to undercut you on price. So you had better have other tools in your toolbox, or you're in the wrong niche (or the wrong business entirely).

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