Search engine optimisation specialists are often asked the question “How can my website compete with the big boys?” by the owners of smaller sites. According to Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s web spam fighting team, it is perfectly possible for smaller sites to reach the top of Google. Matt believes that the real advantage that the owners of smaller websites have over those operated by large organisations is that they can adapt to change more quickly. Small businesses are more agile than large ones and they can change far more rapidly than the large businesses they aspire to evolve into. In a recent video he gave the following tips on how a small website can outperform larger websites on search engines:
1. Focus on User Experience
One of the main factors that will help you to rank higher is the user experience that your site offers. Think about how your users will interact with your website. Start with basics by asking what is the goal of a user on your website? How does the user achieve that goal? What steps does the user have to take to achieve this goal? Can this be streamlined?
Probably the best example I can give you about website user experience is to think about how smartphones have changed the way that we use the Web. Responsive websites are becoming the norm rather than the exception. The reason for this is because if you try to view a website that has four or five columns across the page it is virtually unusable on the small screen of a smartphone. As more and more people are using their phone or tablet to surf the Net so the need to have websites that display content in the most appropriate way for the user’s device becomes paramount.
Facebook is a classic example of a small website that became large. You can also see how they have adapted their mobile strategy over time. They created a Facebook app that offers mobile users a much better user experience than trying to use the desktop version of the site on a mobile browser.
2. Create Quality Content
Your website needs to prove to users, including Google and other search engines, that you are an authority in your chosen field. In order to do this you are going to have to start producing regular content that reinforces this idea.
Write in depth articles around your chosen field. If you are trying to rank for specific keywords ensure that the articles that you post are closely aligned to those keywords. If you regularly blog off topic you are diluting the message that both your customers and search engines receive.
3. Focus on a niche
Carry out some keyword research to discover niche areas to target your content at, look for keywords that have high search volumes but low competition. . If you sell green widgets then try variations on green widget such as “best priced green widget”, “quality green widgets”.
Use Google’s Keyword Tool in AdWords, it’s free to use and you don’t have to buy any ads to use the tool). Use the Keyword Planner and use the option for “Search for a new keyword and ad group ideas”. Enter a list of possible keywords and you will get a results page that shows the keywords that you entered plus others that Google thinks might be of interest to you based on the keywords you originally entered. You will see that for each keyword you get data for the average number of monthly searches from the last 12 months and also a competition value of either low, medium or high. This competition value tells you how much competition there is for the keyword within AdWords but you can assume that keywords that have low competition in paid search are likely to have less competition in organic search too. So what you are looking for are keywords that have relatively high search volumes but low competition. These are the type of keywords that will want to optimise your website for.
Although the title of this article talks about ways that small websites can out rank large website on search engines the tips that are given are applicable to any size of website. The truth of the matter is that by following all of these tips you are likely to increase the number of people that link to your content. Google still places a lot of emphasis on the number, and quality, of links to your website. Each one is seen as a vote of confidence in your content and, as with any poll, the more votes you get the better your result will be. The aim is to attract links naturally because inbound links are still the lifeblood of search engine optimisation.