Google Demonstrates How to Outperform Reddit and Major Brands

  • July 3, 2024
  • SEO
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In a comprehensive interview published on YouTube, Google’s Gary Illyes imparted valuable insights for small websites looking to compete with industry giants such as Reddit, Amazon, and other major brands.

Understanding Big Brand Dominance

Back in May, Google’s Gary Illyes addressed key questions related to SEO. One of the notable queries was about strategies for smaller websites to stand a chance against well-established brands like Reddit.

Though it might seem that Gary downplays Reddit’s dominance, his broader perspective is about the ongoing challenge of competing with large brands on search engine results pages (SERPs).

An audience member posed the following question:

“Since Reddit and big publishers dominate nowadays in the SERPs for many keywords, what can the smaller brands do besides targeting the long tail keywords?”

The Evolution of Big Brands in SERPs

Gary elaborated on the history of major brands in SERPs and how SEO practices have evolved in response. He recounted about About.com, a once-dominant site that ranked for nearly every topic, which many SEO practitioners of the time resented.

Setting the historical context, Gary pointed out that the frustration towards Reddit is an echo of similar feelings that have cycled through various dominant brands over the years as trends in SEO shifted.

Gary provided the following insights:

“Before I joined Google, I was doing SEO work for large publishers… like server and cluster management. We frequently encountered questions about competing with major players like Amazon or About.com. Essentially, every few years, the dominant name changes.”

How Small Sites Can Outshine Big Brands

Gary stressed that the history of SEO also tells the story of small sites learning how to outmaneuver larger competitors. Numerous big brands began as small entities and broke through by developing effective strategies. For instance, Reviewed.com started as a small passion project before being acquired by USA Today.

Gary emphasized two key approaches:

  1. Wait for others to find a successful strategy and then emulate it
  2. Innovate your own strategy to lead the way

However, by the time you follow others’ successful methods, it may be too late.

He elaborated further:

“People always find ways to compete with the dominating players. Whether you wait for someone else to innovate a successful strategy or start developing your own marketing tactics to rise in the SERPs, it’s crucial to be proactive. An inspiring aspect of SEO is utilizing empathetic marketing to carve out your competitive edge.”

Gary’s points highlight that agility and strategic boldness are significant advantages for smaller sites, unlike the bureaucratic inertia that often hampers larger organizations. A robust strategy can indeed help smaller entities outrun bigger brands, as evidenced by numerous past success stories, including Reviewed.com.

Long Tail Keywords and Other Effective Strategies

Gary also addressed the significance of long tail keywords. Despite misconceptions, long tail keywords are not merely elongated phrases but are characterized by their low search volume. They are often overlooked by big brands, which gives smaller sites a competitive advantage.

The question posed to Gary implied that targeting long tail keywords is akin to picking up the scraps left behind by major players. Gary clarified this misunderstanding:

“Claiming that you’re left with only long tail keywords overlooks their potential. We see a significant percentage of new long tail searches every day, which presents immense traffic opportunities that small sites can capitalize on.”

Focusing on long tail keywords can help establish a site’s relevance, which in turn, can attract attention to broader, more competitive keywords. Many small websites fail because they aim for high-traffic keywords without building a foundation in the long tail.

Empowering Small Sites

Gary concluded by reiterating that there’s tremendous potential within the long tail and emerging trends. Small sites possess the unique ability to adapt quickly and make strategic decisions without the hindrance of corporate bureaucracy. This agility enables them to take bold initiatives that can lead to significant gains.

From personal experience and client work, it’s clear that smaller sites can indeed surpass longstanding, bigger competitors. The history of SEO has numerous examples of nimble small sites outperforming larger, slower-moving brands.

Watch Gary’s Full Response at the 20-Minute Mark:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB

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