The question: “How can smaller sites with superior content ever rank over sites with superior traffic? It’s a vicious circle: a regional or national brick-and-mortar brand has higher traffic, leads to a higher rank, which leads to higher traffic, ad infinitum.”
The answer: Matt Cutts states that many smaller sites have the advantage of being able to roll out new ideas and content more quickly than, “lumbering, larger sites.” This allows those smaller sites to get their innovative content indexed and ranked at a faster clip than larger brands. His message is to learn the best practices of correctly optimizing a site and to follow those strategies regularly. Use Moz as an example; they went from learning web SEO themselves to becoming a dominant player in that online space.
A strong point Cutts made was that outranking large sites may not happen in the short-term. Competing to produce authoritative content on a broad topic is difficult, as larger brands with hundreds of employees have the resources to push out a large quantity of content.
To fight this uphill battle, Cutts suggests that smaller sites should write and become an authority over a more concentrated, niche topic area. Once you have covered that area comprehensively, you can build out your content to cover additional topic areas.
Finally, Cutts discusses that Google’s algorithms have a history of ranking everybody on a level playing field. This may be a stretching the truth, but Cutts’ central point stands strong: produce quality, focused content over a long period of time to increase your rankings and traffic.
“If you look at the history of the Web, over and over again, you see people competing on a level-playing field. And because there’s very little friction in changing where you go, which apps you use, and which websites you visit, the small guys are able to perform just as well as the larger guys. It’s just about having a plan and doing a good job at it.”