Do Larger Or Smaller Web Sites Rank Better In Google?

Jul 9, 2013 • 8:06 am | comments (26) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

big and smallA WebmasterWorld thread is having renewed discussion around an old debate on does the size of a web site matter in Google.

There is no doubt, the more pages you have on your web site, the more chances you have to rank for more keyword phrases. But that being said, does a web site that is larger have a better shot than a web site that is smaller to rank for competing terms? If they are both trying to rank for [blue widget] does having a larger site improve your ability to rank for such a term?

Some say yes and some say no.

GoodROI in the forum thread responded to one small website owner saying:

This is funny because I have enterprise level clients that are complaining about the exact opposite. The big brand name websites complain that Google is unfairly penalizing them because Google changes the algo so fast that only the smaller sites can keep pace with the changes.

There are pros and cons to small and large web sites - but is ranking favor by Google one of them?

Take my poll:

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for big and small people

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: July 8, 2013



07/09/2013 12:13 pm

The answer is probably in the extremities. 1 pager or really small sites with not enough information will definitely suffer. Likewise, sites with large amounts of pages with low PR, bad PR Shaping and high bounce rates will suffer. There's a strong case for small sites to add content and larger sites to cull or block (noindex) pages with high Search bounce rates.

Praveen Sharma

07/09/2013 12:28 pm

I think it's not about the size of the website, it's about who is bigger as a brand in their niche from Google's prospective.

Andrew Smith

07/09/2013 12:55 pm

Well if you look at the spammier parts of the web many smaller sites win, with micro niche sites doing well and outranking the likes of Amazon and other big players. But this is more likely to do with EMDs, narrowly focused content and links than size. On the flip side having a bigger site generally makes it easier to build up a stronger link profile, with more pages that can rank and attract links which obviously builds up overall domain authority, passing equity to the pages ranking for head terms too. Also tough to separate the brand factor. If bigger brands do genuinely rank higher then generally bigger brands have larger sites, so is it the size or the brand playing a role? The biggest benefit to having a larger site though is the way you can diversify traffic by targeting the long tail and reduce dependence on a small number of head terms, making for much more sustainable traffic.

Graham Ginsberg

07/09/2013 01:09 pm

As an example, Zillow and Trulia have high rankings for real estate in Google and have millions of pages on their sites, but they don't offer the latest info, which changes within 1/2 hr, 24/7. That means Google cares more about how many flies are attracted to the food, rather than the quality of the food.

Courtney Cox

07/09/2013 01:25 pm

I think it really depends on the query. For searches like "luxury pools," some smaller sites are going to do better, but for "burger restaurants," the big websites with reviews and such do better.


07/09/2013 01:30 pm

There are differences in every niche. In my niche, Google seems to want to show a variety of results on page 1. There are the somewhat larger ecommerce niche sites, big box retailers and manufacturers, local businesses, extremely simple/small ecommerce sites, and 1 or 2 helpful/informative websites that don't sell anything(except maybe ads). It seems Google wants to rank a relatively large ecommerce niche site high. Next, are big box retailers and manufacturers. Throw in a simple/small ecommerce site or two and 1 or 2 informative sites or forums. The local results show up where Google sees fit at the top or below a couple organic results. Therefore, if you're an ecommerce site, it's not about becoming bigger or better than a manufacturers site or big box retailer. It's about being the best in what category your site falls into.

Jerry Kidd

07/09/2013 02:26 pm

I think the size is not very important factor. I have 2 small sites (about 20 pages each) in different niches and they rank better than their competitors with hundreds-pages websites. On my opinion it's all about content quality and backlinks quality. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Michael Martinez

07/09/2013 02:51 pm

Size is completely irrelevant.


07/09/2013 02:56 pm

Big site packed with Good information tops all. Having said that, the site should be as big as it needs to be and no bigger. Having a massive site doesn't equal good ranking but having lots and lots of good content pretty much does if basic SEO rules are followed. Basic lesson, make sure your site is packed with high quality content.


07/09/2013 04:22 pm

That's what she said.


07/09/2013 06:40 pm

and we all know shes a liar


07/10/2013 12:20 am

Short Answer - No, unless you're too big. If you're too big you could run into crawlability issues which can impact rankings and/or indexation. Longer-Answer:I do not believe that the quantity of indexed pages are a ranking factor in and of themselves. However, when a site becomes extremely large, say 20 million plus pages, then crawlability becomes an issue and deeper pages may never be discovered and indexed. Google will sometimes send warnings if your site is montrousand out of control. "Googlebot encountered an extremely large number of URLs on" - if you get these warnings then it probably means Googlebot got exhausted crawling your ginormous site and gave up.

Rahul Trivedi

07/10/2013 06:40 am

I think the smaller site is better working in now days.I think all the webmaster should have to run the test case by creating a small website with 4 or 5 page with meaningful content.


07/10/2013 11:52 am

In my opinion larger websites doing more business then small websites. In larger websites like you have better change to have more pages on your website and you can target more keywords on them. no of landing pages defiantly generate more business for you :)


07/10/2013 11:55 am

After the January 17, 2013 update (that wasn't confirmed) Google main goal is to demote and penalize top SEO brands, not brand name but sites that are dependent on Google for business for more than 5-10 years. Since, then Google is filling the 1 page with small owner new sites (not having large number of pages) having low quality content, coming soon page, keywords rich domain, keywords stuffed content, copied content sites, number of 404 pages, no contact page etc are coming in search. They will be in top for 1-2 months or for year or so and then will be replaced by some more low quality sites. I have seen sites that have scrapped content, title meta from wayback machine of a site that is now penalized and are ranking in top where the penalized site was as penalized site tried every thing from changing content to removing links to get back its ranking but will never do so. On the other hand a 2-4 months old domain who scrapped the content of this site is ranking in top. Keywords specific Linkedin, Facebook pages, keywords specific low level blogs, sites scrappers that list SEO factors, top 10 or 5 lists postings, Indeed job site, Glassdoor, craigslist, yellowpages etc are ranking for local city and country keywords in Google results. There is no place for website to get rank. Above the fold of search results is filled with Google Ads and other Google properties- Images, Shopping, Youtube, Places etc. There is no place left to get a good site in Google results. Earlier it's was possible to get what you want in top 10 results but now top 5 pages are filled with craps and things that are of no use. The motive of this is to compel users to click on ADS as they will never get what they searched for and in the last the Ads results seems better than organic results.


07/10/2013 01:07 pm

Hi Steven - before you buy the headline, you do understand that deep pages (tier 2+) don't rank without authority - so you can add and add and add content but that doesn't make it rank.. Content doesn't make a site rank.


07/10/2013 01:39 pm

Strange, I've heard this before but still the couple of big sites I work on, both get their deeper pages showing up in the search results...... as #1 for competitive terms, and I'm talking about 50,000 + competing sites. Beating both home-pages and tier 1 pages on other sites. So I tend to believe the results over unfounded rumours. Google want to display the best page for the search requested. They don't care if its a tier 26 or tier 1 page. When I do see this happening is with sites with poorly constructed navigation that Google has problems understanding or when the higher tier pages are lacking in content or irrelevant to the lower-tier page.


07/10/2013 04:57 pm

How often do you see a small authority site? Not very often. If you're targeting a keyword phrase you can do it with a small site.... if you're targeting a niche, size is a big factor.


07/10/2013 08:48 pm

Google doesn't care about "brand" - brands care about their brands. Search is about search for generics. Give up the theory, do the homework :)

Praveen Sharma

07/11/2013 04:25 am

David it's not me who is saying this, Matt Cutts himself explained this that try to become an expert (kind of brand) in your niche that everybody wants to link to you. This way you would be the top choice for customers and rankings. From that prospective, I said it's not about size of the website, it's about who is bigger (expert or brand of their niche) for rankings. And obviously, brand is something people trust on, so Google keeps it in top rankings.


07/12/2013 05:05 am

I think that the larger websites have a better shot at ranking because they have more content (assuming they're relevant, which should be the case) that give them the leverage of increasing their relevance for their target keywords.

Emma North

07/19/2013 08:45 am

It's definitely not impossible for small sites to become an authority and perform well in organic search and there are a lot of sites out there that do this well, but certainly larger sites have an easier ride. They already generally have more content, more natural links and are likely to have a better social presence and following. It just means smaller sites have a lot more work to do.


10/19/2013 03:46 am

OH please. Nobody can understand this anymore. Big Brands rule. Google obviously when you look up anything shows Walmart, Overstock, or whatever brand is favored by the public because #1 The larger companies came to the internet later on....thus they had to spend much money advertising....Thus google sees their hefty bank accounts, spending patterns. If I was Tom Cruise and wanted to start selling Wicker Chairs and I could burn 2 or 3 million in Adwords on all levels, market place, text , banner, everything google offers in terms of outlets.. I assure you Tom Cruise would be number one for Wicker Chairs. Nobody has Tom Cruise money so we are all stuck, America is forgotton for the little guy trying to get big. It's to late for all of us. Tom Cruise does not have to lay tile on the floor at 48 years old to make a living...I do - barely. God Bless you Tom Cruise wherever the sun is shining on you!


10/19/2013 03:48 am



10/19/2013 03:51 am

Let me help you: Big Brands Came to Net Late = They spend more to catch up. Therefore Google knows they have money and anyone spending big bucks on google, Google wants to keep internet based....Thus higher rankings. Google can do math....they know we little people will throw our childs last bottle of milk at an adwords campaign to keep it alive....God Bless Tom Cruise, George Clooney....I feel like going to my home in Milan, or wherever or buy a castle....yet Google thinks little puny me can compete? I doubt it. Say what you will SEO is gone and Tom Cruise is drinking lemon aid in the Hamptons. Enjoy what little life we have left.


11/24/2013 06:11 pm

I don't think large websites always rank. My site was ranking well for some key words like IPO or best investments. Now I am not sure how the ranking is dropped, but large websites are dominating in some cases.

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