How can a dwarf ever beat a giant? It may seem like an impossible battle. The same goes to small websites that aim to compete with larger, older and more popular websites.
But there is more than what it seems. While the uphill battle may seem to be impossible to win for the dwarf, there are still benefits of running smaller websites.
Small businesses are more flexible and agile. If small businesses are like ants and larger websites are like elephants, the smaller ants are more nimble. They can change direction as fast as they want to, without giving much (any) effect to the surroundings.
From agility, there are more that those ants can do that elephants can't. And this is where those smaller businesses should target the opportunities that larger websites can't, despite their natural advantages allowed them to do so.
First of all, let us know the obvious advantages of the elephants, the giants on the web.
Advantages of Popular Websites
They are large, powerful, influential and have high volume of traffic. Looking to only those aspects, smaller websites may just as well give up and stand down. They'll never have the chance to even think to fight. Then comes domain authority; the quantity and quality of links (in and out); trustworthiness, resources, and many others.
Going straight to compete with more larger websites that have the above advantages won't do any good to any small websites. The elephant will just squash the ant without even knowing its even there in the first place.
But having all the above will make any large websites a lot difficult to move. With all those assets and credibility, all those mentions, followers, fans and exposure. While a good strategy will make them even more popular, a mistake can create a chain reaction that will result to something even worse than anticipations.
This is where larger and more sophisticated websites tend to be more careful. They always walk carefully and never put a foot down to places they have no idea what will happen. They tend to think before doing, to again rethink and even more rethinking.
This is where small websites should know, and to know this is to understand how to take their agility to provide the competitive advantages.
Advantages of Small Websites
They can be small or large, but they aren't yet popular. They can be young or old, but haven't get that exposure they needed. But still, they have the power to move a lot faster than larger websites if they wanted to.
The advantages of small websites are:
Agility: From testing to research, to planning and commencing, all that can be done with lesser effort despite smaller gains. If successful, they'll see a growth. But if they fail, they won't have much to lose. Small websites don't have that complex workflow, so any sudden changes won't hurt them by much. Their small team can get more things done in a small amount of time, if compared to larger teams working on bigger projects.
Creativity: Small websites have less to no boundaries. They can achieve and think out-of-the box to then get inside the box again if they want to. They're allowed to go outside their comfort zone that has been set, execute an idea, and see what works and what doesn't. Team members have their voices to be heard better, and won't need a lot of approvals like those working on the more complex websites.
Focus: To-do list is a must. But small websites can choose to focus on one thing and forget the rest for a moment without affecting much of the workflow. They can grab each opportunity that comes without hesitation or much consideration. Larger websites couldn't do this because people in the team have a long list of things to do, long before accepting newer ones. They need to calculate their chances of winning, as well as the resources to manage. Small businesses don't have those headaches.
Appeal to unique audience: Larger and more popular websites have a more diverse ecosystem and users. They have a lot of traffic and a lot of influence to maintain. Smaller websites don't have that luxury, but they are more likely to appeal on a smaller groups of people larger websites failed to get, or often overlooked. The ratio of conversion can be high if the small website can do what it has to do.
With the above advantages, the ants have the bits of arsenal to compete. With the knowledge, they should never compete with the elephants directly, but take away their share by aiming to populate those places that the elephants couldn't fit.
To compete, smaller websites need to understand what they have on their disposal. If there are any other advantages they can make use of, better put them on the list straight away. The war won't be ending soon: getting a bite on an elephant's leg may not sting nor bother it. But a whole lot more bites certainly will.
Strategies to Compete with Larger Websites
Popular keywords are taken, and larger websites usually have a list of keywords they have ranked well. Smaller websites can't compete here straight away. Instead, try to target those keywords that the giants are unwilling, unable, has not chosen, or aren't yet trying.
This is where the ant's agility and focus are taken forward.
Seek for keywords that giants didn't acquire yet. Bigger websites couldn't just aim for every keywords they can think of due to their indirect path to ROI or other related issues.
Some types of keywords that can be explored and take to the advantages are: long-tailed keywords that are specific to details, comparison keywords that compare a brand to other brands, and editorial keywords to make contents that are constraints to larger websites.
Going to the details
Larger websites tend to have partners in its industry. While this generates them a lot of money, they can't go beyond the boundaries that have been set. Small websites that can go straight into the equation without much hesitation, can grab the opportunity to again bite the elephant on the leg.
Like earlier mentioned, smaller websites tend to have more unique audience. The reason for this is because of the more detailed keywords success achieved, or getting the attention by having contents that no matter how small, but have been neglected by bigger websites.
Again the larger websites have limits. They can't go beyond the border as easy as smaller websites.
Larger websites know that they need to pursue more than just keywords, but also contents to make conversion. Their focus is to create the best path that eases the process of making money. Smaller businesses just want to make money, no matter how they don't really care.
Here is where smaller websites can go where the larger websites couldn't. They can built trust to their small audience, in a way that hits harder and have more impact. They can create contents that larger websites wouldn't dare to create; they can sell whatever larger websites won't even think of; they can market products and/or services in a way that larger websites are restricted.
Resource vs. results ratio
Larger websites have a lot more resources to spend. They can use what they have on their possession to create any type of contents. Smaller websites have more limited resources, but they can invest more in a single piece of content than any other larger websites ever could.
From planning to researching for keywords, smaller websites can create a lot more contents in quantity. Putting more efforts, they can create quality to go well with quantity. The efforts and resources spent should be less than what larger websites would spend on doing the same thing.
We all know that behind any websites on the internet, there should be at least one person that manages it. While things are getting pretty much automated, people are still playing a huge role in giving that "personal" client-business relationship.
Larger websites have a more complex workflow. The people behind them, even their PR, may not be bothered by small problems when they were already occupied by bigger problems. For that, they tend to forget that those small people that want to connect to them, are potential people.
They tend to aim for the bigger complete pie while neglecting the smaller crumbs that if many, can also form a single pie.
1-on-1 relationship is what small businesses can excel. They can build and have more direct conversation and relationship with those people that want to connect with them. A human approach is a common difficulty that many larger websites usually have. This however, isn't at all a problem for smaller websites where even the owner can dive directly into the conversation.
Larger websites are like giants: they're the elephants that occupy a larger space; have more influence; are better seen and are much more powerful than any single ant for that matter. A small ant won't ever be able to compete with an elephant directly because of its smaller size that poses a lot more vulnerabilities.
Biting an elephant on the leg won't even itch, so why bother?
But smaller websites that can be as small as ants, they should be resourceful. Knowing what they have and know what they're capable of, they can use their agility and nimbleness to compete by having less to lose. So if one bite won't nudge the giant, a thousand bites should make it scream.
So will the ant survive? Probably. But if it does, it may soon evolve to become an elephant. Only time will tell.