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How can a legitimate business compete online?

How can a legitimate business compete online? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from Arkansas. GrowthWill asks, ranking being so valuable, how does a true business owner that offers a legitimate business and has a vast number of customers supposed to compete and gain the traffic deserved over those that specialize in creating traffic? Is it supposed to be this hard for us? I wanted to tackle this question because there’s a lot of nuance to it. On one hand, the web is fantastic. It’s sort of like a universal, level playing field where anybody can compete. If you move faster, you can often do better than a lot of businesses that don’t move fast or that are stuck in ancient days and just aren’t as responsive to customers. So on one hand, I like that the web is a leveler. On the other hand, there is an aspect of Google search results where we do want to, all other things being equal, try to mirror the world a little bit. Now there’s a difference between mirroring the world and mirroring the online world. So for example, it might be the case that it’s relatively well accepted– take something like vaccines or something like that– the scientific community might have concluded that vaccines are a good idea. But unless that information is available online somewhere, it’s hard for Google to know what are the reputable sources. So maybe there’s a lot more people talking online about, well, we don’t like vaccines, as opposed to the relatively large consensus that vaccines can be helpful. So Google can’t really know who the important people are in the world, we can only know who the important people are in what we can find of the world. In particular, if you’re a large business, you can still have a bad website, and there are a lot of businesses that do have bad websites. I know because I’ve done site audits at search conferences and seen just how ugly and bad and how many chains of redirects to a 404 page you can have within a business’s website. So the things that I would think about are, make sure your website doesn’t suck. Make sure it’s not just really hard for mobile users to use. Or if it’s entirely Flash, then it’s not as useful for mobile users, for example. You want to make sure that you have good navigation, all that sort of stuff. So the first 1.0 sort of level is just make sure that your site is usable. It might not be as usable as you thought. The second thing to think about is you have, you said, a vast number of customers. So think about ways to engage with those customers. It can be the case that you can build up a mailing list a lot easier than a small business, for example. So there are a lot of opportunities that you might have where you could do local promotions or you have real-world events. You can sponsor races, all those sorts of things. So as a larger business, there are a few opportunities available to you that aren’t available to startups. So there is a lot of really complex stuff here. We want people to be able to find the best information on the web. Oftentimes, that is things that have reputation in the real world but certainly not always. You see plenty of websites where it’s a very large company, and they’re just not as dynamic. They’re not as responsive. They’re not as adaptive to users. They don’t provide as high-quality information. And so we try not to really judge a lot on– just because somebody’s a big site doesn’t automatically mean that they deserve to rank. We try to look at what the best resources are. So make sure that you’ve got a good website. You’ve got good resources. But then, if you have strengths, look at the ways that you can take advantage of those strengths in a way that other sites might not be able to, and that can help out quite a bit as well. So good luck. Hope that your search for traffic goes well. But don’t get so focused in just the search rankings that you forget there’s a lot of other opportunities available to you as well.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: