Google’s Advice for Small Companies Competing with Large

3 min read

During Google’s Office-hours Hangout, recorded on February 4, 2022, Google’s John Mueller provided significant advice, mainly aimed at small businesses looking to compete with industry giants. A thoughtful and pertinent question from one of the viewers highlighted this discussion. The viewer inquired about the fairness of Google’s practice of running Shopping Ads prominently at the top of search results, consequently pushing down organic results. This situation often disadvantages smaller companies, as they miss out on valuable visibility that top rankings provide. To compound the query, the viewer wondered if smaller companies had any realistic chance of challenging the dominance of more prominent players in this context.

Competing against big companies is never going to be easy, online or offline.

Here’s the question posed by the viewer.

“In 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 and smaller organizations further and further down the page? Do smaller organizations have a chance in competing with larger companies?”

To which, John said.

“I don’t know… 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 focus on big websites or anything like that. But from a purely a practical point of view, obviously if you’re a small company and you’re trying to compete with larger companies, then it’s always going to be hard.”

John’s answer seem to address the issue in a general sense rather than taking the Shopping Ads factor into account, or maybe it’s all in there and kind of a given.

Size doesn’t matter. Or does it?

John further added.

“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 was really bad. And it was easy for small websites to get in and kind of like say, well, here’s my small website or my small bookstore, and suddenly your content is visible to a large amount of users.

And you can have that success moment early on. But over time, as large companies also see the value of search and of the web overall, they’ve grown their websites. They have really competent teams, they work really hard on making a fantastic web experience. And that kind of means for smaller companies that it’s a lot harder to gain a foothold there, especially if there is a very competitive existing market out there.

And it’s less about large companies or small companies. It’s really more about the competitive environment in general.”

John stressed that success in online competition hinges on the quality of your website’s optimization and the user experience it provides rather than the sheer size of your website or brand. He cited historical instances where smaller companies outperformed larger ones to support this assertion. However, this often occurred because certain major corporations needed to fully appreciate the importance of implementing robust SEO strategies over an extended period. Consequently, this oversight created opportunities for smaller brands to enter the market and make their presence strategically.

For a small company, its strength is its biggest asset.

John continued.

“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 as well. 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.”

While it might initially appear that large brands possess an inherent advantage over smaller ones, this is only sometimes true. Small websites have unique strengths that can be leveraged effectively. One notable advantage is the potential for faster page-load times, a factor that can be optimally utilized. More prominent brands often do not prioritize this aspect due to their established status. A prime example of this is observed in the case of Shopping Ads. However, smaller websites can exploit this gap to their benefit.
Another significant advantage for smaller websites is their ability to strategically build links and make informed choices regarding content and relevant primary and secondary keywords. For instance, well-crafted and visually appealing content focused on an off-the-beaten-path trekking destination can surpass many established players in the competitive travel market. It’s all about capitalizing on the resources at your disposal.
So, can small companies hold their ground against their larger counterparts? They can. For a comprehensive understanding of this perspective, you can watch John Mueller’s complete response to this question, starting at the 38:15 minute mark. Additionally, consider staying tuned for the rest of the discussion, as it may offer valuable insights.

Source: Search Engine Journal