small vs big business

Sometimes I think I am the only person in the search world that doesn’t watch Matt Cutts videos. I probably am. I think I’ve seen 5. Matt is the head of the webspam team at Google. No offense to Matt, I am certain is a brilliant guy, his videos are just geared towards beginners. Once in a great while though, one will catch my eye, like the one below. It does provide good information.

The video is titled: How Can Small Sites become popular? The first thing that popped into my head was a small business doesn’t have to have a “small site”, which is why I titled this article Can a small business compete against a big business online?

Here is the video:

A small business can absolutely rank with the big boys organically:

In a past life I owned a computer repair center that concentrated on fixing laptops. At one point I outranked IBM for terms such as ThinkPad repair. How? Content. I might even consider it easy, but then again I’ve been ranking websites for a very long time. I wrote about the computers we repaired. The site was so successful a point came where people started shipping their machines in for repair. My repair facility was in North Carolina and after a while 50% of our business was from Los Angeles. The day came where people started sending them in from Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Mexico and England. It was amazing. Trying to figure out how to safely get paid and ship things to other countries is a great problem to have. Sure, Geek Squad and others with huge multimillion dollar budgets existed, but it didn’t matter. They spent millions on ads. I put detailed information onto WordPress. I was on page 1 often in the #1 position for thousands of terms. It always has been, and always will be about the content. In every business I look at I instantly see room for improvement on their content. It needs to be “good”. How is it good? It varies from business to business and city to city. I can’t tell you here how to write content- it would be like me telling you how to change oil; the process is very different from vehicle to vehicle. The strategy for every business is different.

Small Business vs Big Business and Paid Advertising:

Could a small business compete with a big business in paid advertising? Yes and no. There will always be things the larger companies miss in their paid ad campaigns. They might target “plumbing” and forget about “sink repair”. You can make a great living swimming behind the big fish picking up their scraps. There are entire species of fish that survive in the ocean this way.

Big businesses have big budgets. It is easy to be intimidated by them. In the computer industry I had to deal with Geek Squad and other large businesses. Many of these big businesses were run very poorly and actually did a disservice to the community, but the average person would not know that by seeing their ads on TV, their company cars driving around town, and their massive campaigns online. But paid advertising will only get you so far.

Paid Advertising vs Organic Rankings:

I won’t pretend to be the PPC expert, however, I have run several different Adwords ad campaigns. Some were cost effective, some were not. I’ve spent around $70,000 of my own money on PPC while on a shoestring budget and bootstrapping a company. Every, penny, mattered. I always treat my client’s advertising dollars this way. When I had the computer shop I used to spend around $1,500 per month on Adwords. When my site took off in the search engines it was great. Before long PPC was only making up around 10% of my traffic. Not only did the PPC only amount to 10% of my traffic, it was low quality traffic. People would land on the site and exit in seconds. I made my ads as descriptive as possible so that you had to know where you were going if you clicked on the ad. It didn’t matter. People that landed on the page via organic search were significantly more likely to stay on the page longer or click through to a second page. I do not have specific metrics although I’d value my organic traffic at twice as good as my paid traffic.

Note: When I used PPC I was only advertising on Google’s search network (and not the content network which is now called the display network).


Yes, a small business can compete with a big business online. You probably aren’t going to outrank for Windows any time soon but there is always a way to get your slice of the pie via content. In the video Matt states that one of the best ways to rank in Google is with content. This is not a secret.

If you need assistance creating great content, nailing down a content strategy, or outranking a competitor in a highly competitive niche please visit my content creation page.



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