How Small Sites Can Compete with Reddit: Google’s SEO Tips


In a competitive digital landscape, standing out among giants like Reddit and large brands can be daunting. However, insights from Google’s Gary Illyes provide a roadmap for smaller sites to navigate and thrive in this challenging environment. This article delves into strategies to outcompete Reddit and big brands, emphasizing long-term SEO tactics, agility, and innovative approaches.

Understanding Big Brand Dominance

Historical Context of Big Brands in SERPs

Big brand dominance in search engine results pages (SERPs) is not a new phenomenon. Historically, platforms like held significant sway, dominating search results for a plethora of topics. Over time, the names and faces of these dominant players have changed, but the challenge for smaller sites has remained consistent.

Gary Illyes of Google highlights that the perception of certain platforms like Reddit ruling the SERPs is part of an ongoing trend. Every few years, a new entity seems to dominate, but this cycle also presents opportunities for smaller sites to innovate and carve out their niche.

Read More: Is Google SEO Gaslighting the Internet?

The Question of Competition

In a recent discussion, Gary Illyes addressed a pertinent question from an audience member: how can smaller brands compete with the likes of Reddit and other big publishers? This question taps into a broader concern within the SEO community about the visibility and discoverability of smaller sites amidst the overwhelming presence of big brands.

Strategies for Small Sites to Outcompete Big Brands

Embracing Innovation and Agility

One of the primary advantages smaller sites have over large brands is agility. Big brands are often bogged down by bureaucracy, making them slower to adapt to changes. In contrast, smaller sites can quickly implement innovative strategies and pivot as needed. Gary Illyes suggests that waiting for someone else to figure out the next big thing and then copying it is not the most effective strategy. Instead, being at the forefront of innovation and leading the way can yield better results.

The Power of Empathetic Marketing

Gary emphasizes the importance of empathetic marketing—understanding and addressing the needs and pain points of your audience. By creating content and marketing strategies that resonate deeply with your target audience, smaller sites can build strong, loyal communities. This approach not only enhances user engagement but also improves search rankings as user metrics become increasingly significant in SEO.

Leveraging Long Tail Keywords

Misconceptions About Long Tail Keywords

A common misconception is that long tail keywords are simply longer phrases. In reality, long tail keywords are those that are less frequently searched but often carry high intent. These keywords are crucial for small sites as they represent untapped opportunities to attract niche audiences.

Capturing Traffic Through Long Tail Keywords

Gary Illyes points out that a significant percentage of daily searches are new long tail keywords. By focusing on these, smaller sites can capture substantial traffic. This approach is not about settling for the “crumbs” left by big brands but strategically positioning your site to cater to specific, underserved queries.

Building Authority Through Long Tail Keywords

Starting with long tail keywords can help small sites build authority and relevance in their niche. Over time, as the site gains credibility and attracts a steady stream of visitors, it can gradually target more competitive, high-traffic keywords. This incremental approach ensures a solid foundation and sustainable growth.

Case Studies and Examples A Success Story

An illustrative example of a small site outcompeting larger brands is Originally started by a passionate individual, focused on in-depth, high-quality reviews that resonated with its audience. This dedication to quality and relevance allowed it to grow significantly, eventually attracting the attention of USA Today, which acquired the site.

Insights from SEO Veterans

Many successful SEOs share stories of starting with small, niche sites and gradually building them into authoritative platforms. These stories underscore the importance of perseverance, continuous learning, and the ability to adapt to changing SEO landscapes.

Practical Steps for Small Sites

Content Quality and Depth

Creating high-quality, in-depth content that addresses specific needs and questions is paramount. Smaller sites should focus on producing comprehensive guides, how-tos, and in-depth analyses that provide real value to users.

Technical SEO and User Experience

Ensuring that your site is technically sound and offers a seamless user experience is crucial. Fast loading times, mobile responsiveness, and easy navigation are factors that significantly impact user engagement and search rankings.

Read More: Google Search Bug with Not Indexing or Serving New Content

Community Building and Engagement

Building a community around your content can significantly enhance your site’s visibility and credibility. Engaging with your audience through comments, social media, and forums can foster a loyal following and drive repeat traffic.

Future Trends and Considerations

The Role of Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning are reshaping the SEO landscape. Small sites that leverage these technologies to enhance their content creation, user experience, and analytics will be better positioned to compete with larger brands.

The Importance of Adaptability

The digital landscape is continuously evolving. For small sites, the ability to quickly adapt to new trends, algorithm updates, and user preferences is essential. Staying informed about industry developments and being willing to experiment with new strategies can provide a competitive edge.


Competing with Reddit and big brands in the SERPs is challenging but not insurmountable. By leveraging their agility, focusing on long tail keywords, and prioritizing empathetic marketing, small sites can carve out a significant presence in the digital landscape. The key lies in continuous innovation, understanding your audience deeply, and building a strong foundation through quality content and technical excellence. With these strategies, smaller sites can not only compete but thrive in the face of big brand dominance.

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