Saturday, July 13, 2024

Google Shows How To Beat Reddit & Big Brands

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Google Shows How To Beat Reddit & Big Brands

In an interview published on YouTube, Google’s Gary Illyes offered advice on what small sites should consider doing if they want to compete against Reddit, Amazon and other big brand websites.

About Big Brand Dominance

Google’s Gary Illyes answered questions about SEO back in May that went underreported so I’m correcting that oversight this month. Gary answered a question about how to compete against Reddit and big brands.

While it may appear that Gary is skeptical that Reddit is dominating, he’s not disputing that perception and that’s not the context of his answer. The context is larger than Reddit because his answer is about the core issue of competing against big brands in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is the question that an audience member asked:

“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 History Of Big Brands In The SERPs

Gary’s answer encompasses the entire history of big brands in the SERPs and the SEO response to that. was a website about virtually any topic of interest and it used to rank for just about everything. It was like the Wikipedia of its day and many SEOs resented how used to rank so well.

He first puts that context into his answer, that this complaint about Reddit is part of a long history of various brands ranking at the top of the SERPs then washing out of the SERPs as trends change.

Gary answered:

“So before I joined Google I was doing some SEO stuff for big publishers. …SEO type. Like I was also server manager like a cluster manager.

So, I would have had the same questions and in fact back in the day we saw these kind of questions all the time.

Now it’s Reddit. Back then it was Amazon. A few years before that, it was I think …

Pretty much every two years the name that you would put there …changes.”

Small Sites Can Outcompete Big Brands

Gary next shares that the history of SEO is also about small sites figuring out how to outcompete the bigger sites. This is also true. Some big sites started as small sites that figured out a way to outcompete larger big brand sites. For example,, before it was purchased by USA Today, was literally started by a child whose passion for the topic contributed to it becoming massively successful.

Gary says that there are two things to do:

  1. Wait until someone else figures out how to outcompete and then copy them
  2. Or figure it out yourself and lead the way

But of course, if you wait for someone else to show the way it’s probably too late.

He continued:

“It seems that people always figure out ways to compete with whoever would be the second word in that question.

So it’s not like, oh my God, like everything sucks now and we can retire. It’s like, one thing you could do is to wait it out and let someone else come up with something for you that you can use to compete with Reddit and the big publishers that allegedly dominate nowadays the SERPs.

Or you sit down and you start thinking about how can you employ some marketing strategies that will boost you to around the same positions as the big publishers and Reddit and whatnot.

One of the most inspiring presentations I’ve seen was the empathetic marketing… do that. Find a way to compete with these positions in the SERPs because it is possible, you just have to find the the angle to compete with them.”

Gary is right. Big brands are slowed down by bureaucracy and scared to take chances. As I mentioned about, a good strategy can outrun the big brands all day long, I know this from my own experience and from knowing others who have done the same thing, including the founder of

Long Tail Keywords & Other Strategies

Gary next talked about long tail keywords. A lot of newbie SEO gurus define long tail keyword phrases with a lot of words in it. That’s 100% wrong. Long tail keyword phrases are keyword phrases that searches rarely use. It’s the rareness of keyword use that makes them long tail, not how many words are in the keyword phrase.

The context this part of Gary’s answer is that the person asking the question essentially dismissed long tail search queries as the crumbs that the big brands leave behind for small sites.

Gary explains:

“And also the other thing is that, like saying that you are left with the long tail keywords. It’s like we see like 15 to even more percent of new long tail keywords every single day.

There’s lots of traffic in long tail keywords. You you can jump on that bandwagon and capture a ton of traffic.”

Something left unmentioned is that conquering long tail keyword phrases is one way to create awareness that a site is about a topic. People come for the long tail and return for the head phrases (the queries with more traffic).

The problem with some small sites is that they’re trying to hit the big traffic keywords without first showing relevance in the long tail. Starting small and building up toward big is one of the secrets of successful sites.

Small Sites Can Be Powerful

Gary is right, there is a lot of traffic in the long tail and emerging trends. The thing that small sites need to remember is that big sites move slow and have to get through layers of bureaucracy in order to make a strategic decision. The stakes for them are also higher so they’re not prone to take big swings either. Speed and the ability to make bold moves is the small site’s super power. Exercise it.

I know from my own experience and from working with clients that it’s absolutely possible to outrank to big sites that have been around for years. The history of SEO is littered with small sites that outpaced the slower moving bigger sites.

Watch Gary answer this question at the 20 minute mark:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB

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