Google's Matt Cutts Wants To Know Which Small Sites Should Rank Better

Aug 29, 2013 • 8:32 am | comments (67) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

big smallThe question of big sites vs small sites and how they rank in Google has always been one of those questions SEOs have asked. In fact, it seems that only 30% of SEOs believe web site size does not matter in terms of rankings.

That being said, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, posted a survey on Google Docs asking you to tell them which small web sites are getting an unfair shot in Google and should rank higher.

Matt tweeted it last night:

The survey itself makes it clear that no rankings will be impacted directly from this survey:

Google would like to hear feedback about small but high-quality websites that could do better in our search results. To be clear, we're just collecting feedback at this point; for example, don't expect this survey to affect any site's ranking.

I am glad Google is indeed looking into this.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for big vs small

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08/29/2013 12:38 pm

Here is hoping that this survey doesn't become SEOs spamming their clients or their own sites just because. Ha! Yea right. This is a nice idea but will be ruined by peoples inability to look at their projects/those of their clients in any sort of honest way.

Syed Waqas Bukhari

08/29/2013 12:40 pm

that would be mine probably :)


08/29/2013 12:51 pm

And the small website definition is .................. ???????????????? Is it number of pages ? staff ? credit line ? or .... ????

Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

08/29/2013 12:51 pm

Syed, you took the words right out of my mouth :)


08/29/2013 12:55 pm

Exactly what i was thinking....


08/29/2013 01:01 pm

Surely it´s 640 x 480 no?

Syed Waqas Bukhari

08/29/2013 01:20 pm



08/29/2013 01:24 pm

I like how you put a positive spin on everything ;)

Juggernart Games

08/29/2013 01:51 pm

Huh? Funny! Why this? I thought Google has search quality raters? And btw, why is it about "small" websites only, and what is a small website?! Are there only big and small sites in Googles eyes? Do big sites rank better anyway? Aren't there "big" sites that should rank better? Shouldn't the sites with highest quality content rank better anyway? Aren't there Panda and Penguin to determine it? Does Google search really work??? LOL!


08/29/2013 02:18 pm

Starter websites used AdSense to get really, really big. Once really, really big they drift to other higher paying forms of adverts. They really don't need AdSense anymore. Maybe Google is feeling the pinch? Reaching out to the small, the poor and needy? The majority of the small mom & pop websites tend to be really good because they don't Octomom articles. A site's size......well, I guess in Google's eyes, size really does matter.


08/29/2013 02:24 pm

What can I say, hanging out in Webmaster Central has made it painfully obvious that very few people have taken the time to ask themselves, "does my site really deserve to rank above..." But let's be honest; this survey is going to be spammed to death with crap, crap, crap...which is kind of hysterical.

Durant Imboden

08/29/2013 02:41 pm

Whether the survey is spammed really doesn't matter. Most submissions will be discarded in a few seconds--just like job resumes, manuscript submissions by would-be authors, and e-mail spam. I'd guess that any halfway-intelligent evaluator could go through thousands of submissions in a day. The real work will come after the first round, when the small percentage of surviving Web sites will need to be scored, discussed, compared to sites in existing search results, etc.


08/29/2013 03:34 pm

Good point, Anti-SEO. I'd like to know Google's answer to this. Is it one page? Two? Two thousand? Or perhaps two hundred billion? So much confusion. For example, first they preached that articles needed to be rich in content/length and contain x-amount of words. In a world where people are grasping quick information, this type of thinking is quite outdated. Twitter is huge - a tiny capsule of info, yet websites are being down-graded when they display scanty content. And Google realizes the lucrativeness of concise content/information. Just look at one of their most recent actions - displaying nutrition information for foods on the search page. Really bad idea because 1. People aren't going to visit websites which are most likely to be providing this information along with AdSense ads - so Google and the webmaster will lose revenue. 2. They are a search engine, not the new Jack Lalanne. 3. This practice is killing a lot of websites which worked hard to collect and compile this data along with rich content. One of my friends was hit hard with this implementation - and he not only displayed nutrition but also detailed information for the food. What next? Display symptoms of all medical conditions? Display how to repair everything from a toaster to a car? Tossing up hands. I'm finished doing what Google says to do because nothing they have suggested works to improve ranking from rel-author to Google+ to social media interaction and so forth.


08/29/2013 03:43 pm

I feel bit wierd, becz ranking sites wether its small or big doesn't matters. What matters is the quality of backlinks as far as the present situation is concerned. Becz google depends on the quality of backlinks, then where comes the small & big sites difference?


08/29/2013 04:06 pm

i think only google own sites deserve ranking. Just because google will not accept any another answer.


08/29/2013 04:09 pm

google lost in cyber space. Answer is really easy - all sites small and big is important. Small site can become big, but it up to traffic, nobody not will work for free. Soon google will see results of own zoo.


08/29/2013 04:55 pm

This is offtopic, but just to give you some info to think about ... There are two types of information - objective and subjective. One can't beat Google in the providing of the objective information, like nutrition is. Google has everything to be the best regarding the objective info. Google has problems regarding the subjective info. I will not explain why, since this is obvious. I believe, that Google is looking to be mostly provider of the objective info. This market is very easy to be occupied and it will exist forever. So, I don't agree with you, that this is bad idea. This is just the competition and your friend lost it. This is how the market works. Your friend should be aware. I, being the Google user, am satisfied of how do they work with the objective information. In fact I use Google mostly for the searching of this type of information : definitions, grammar, translation, facts, etc. I find it convenient to use Google. Why use other websites ? So, providers of objective information are in trouble. They can't beat Google here. re "They are a search engine" Google stopped to be search engine far ago. Google even is not an IT company. Google is an IT based advertising company. Try to think about Google from this point of view and you will see different picture of their goals.


08/29/2013 05:40 pm

This is great! I am very happy they even care enough to make the survey. I just gave them a very long note of which ended with this sentence: "I have spent countless hours investigating the traffic drops that hit during panda and penguin and I have seen painfully obvious favoritism on Google's part towards big business. I think this is a sad state of affairs to say the least." Maybe they will listen. I would be surprised though. Big business means big $$$ The little guy is not important.

John Broadbent

08/29/2013 05:50 pm

Power to the small business owner!


08/29/2013 07:21 pm

You'd better spent countless hours building your website ))

Durant Imboden

08/29/2013 07:34 pm

Why waste time worrying? If you have a site that *you* consider to be small, and that ought to be ranking better by any objective criteria, submit it. (Filling in the form shouldn't take more than a minute or two, so how much do you have to lose?)


08/29/2013 07:38 pm

this survey is not mean anything, it just "dust in the eyes" to get more time and $$$ before making something real (and again for google, not for small webmasters).


08/29/2013 07:40 pm

LOL Guy on the 'zoo' comment. At times, I believe all of this has turned into a circus and I'm unsure just who the clowns are.... :-)


08/29/2013 07:44 pm

Anti, I agree with much of what you said, particularly the search engine comment. As to the subjective/objective, there are billions of bytes that could be generated on either, so the issue is where does it stop. Nonetheless, I still think it was an unwise move because they are taking traffic away from potential ad revenue because the viewer will garner the data from the Google search. I think they may be slowly realizing that short and sweet is in; long-winded content is out. Those of us who worked to create rich content are screwed....


08/29/2013 07:49 pm

google trying to make us a circus pets. it very easy to see at this days.

David DuVal

08/29/2013 07:55 pm

Is he asking if small sites should appear HIGHER on the search results page? Because on popular searches there will be no small sites visible because the page will be dominated by ads. He is failing to consider that smaller, quality sites appear lower now simply because of ads.Let's keep in mind that ads used to only be on the right side, and there were about 7 organic links above the fold. Why can't the "spam team" be as aggressive about paid SERPs as they are for organic? Otherwise, why even bother having this department at Google? I think it may be obsolete before much longer.


08/29/2013 08:04 pm

because google antispam crusade = "money into google pocket". nothing else. But it funny to read googlers stories how good are they in fighting spam and how hard they work to help people to recover. I think they just penalized most of non-internet coalition websites (with any dofollow links) and now spend all their time to create matt cutts videos and explain us what we are unnatural peoples with unnatural links inside us. Oh, where old near perfect google pre-2012!!! ::cry::

David DuVal

08/29/2013 08:12 pm

If Matt Cutts was becoming obsolete because the SERPs pages were incredibly awesome, then great. Instead, he is becoming obsolete because organic results are replaced by paid results. You have to look at the WHOLE search results page. It's a bubble that won't last forever. And I will say the organic results are good. Matt has done great but to what end?


08/29/2013 08:20 pm

organic results is not good, it just high authority, like you search for "how to wash cat", but getting "what is cat" on wikipedia. Adwords ads is common MFA site ads, where ads used to provide real answers. So it just replacement for normal organic serp with paid serp. Who said before - "we never will sell results in organic serp", "don't be evil policy". Oh, yes, it again was Matt Cutts. But now here is unnatural organic serp, 2 type of ads above fold in top positions, etc. But google still keep talking us - "it all because of spammers" and your site tanked because today they wake up with feeling "something unnatural is going on". May be it links? May be it sites? May be it spam? Ok, replace organic serp with paid serp and no problems, only need to make view what we are "cares".


08/29/2013 08:32 pm

their MFA adwords work pretty well. it already has replaced organic serp. in few years they totally will remove it from page 1.

Durant Imboden

08/29/2013 08:43 pm

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, can I mention that ads also push *large* sites farther down on the SERP? I doubt if many owners of small *or* large sites are ready to say, "Ads are shoving organic results below the fold for some searches, so I don't care if my site ranks first or tenth."

David DuVal

08/29/2013 08:51 pm

The QUANTITY of ads on the page makes the organic results nearly obsolete in many cases, making the initial premise of asking which small sites should rank higher a question that misses elephant in the room.

Morgan Akchehirlian

08/29/2013 08:57 pm

Big sites always enjoys great benefit.They are big networks that got less penalties and they are maintaining their monopolies with it. We all knows Penguin update hit mostly small business.Let Google knows small business sites so they check your linkprofile and make it against you. Be careful about making right choice. Another good post by barry but not the link of explanation/clarity that you add in your previous blog posts.Adding it as suggestion.


08/29/2013 09:19 pm

The first who should be realizing are media brands. I read a lot of media every day and I never saw content less than 500 words. For ex. : I'm publishing rich content only. Furthermore, I routinely increase the level of "rich" to be published. No reason to panic here. Just your business model should be competitive.


08/29/2013 09:29 pm

Recent study shows, that Google's visitors don't see ads as ads. They just don't care. They request info - Google provides. That's it. Visitors are happy. Your blame has no support by science.

David DuVal

08/29/2013 09:53 pm

Well then, maybe Matt Cutts should talk about this study, because he "appears" to care about the quality of the search results page, though he hasn't spoken about smaller sites getting less traffic simply because those who can afford to pay google will be positioned higher on the page, the "elephant in the room".

Jan Dunlop

08/29/2013 10:32 pm

Yes large sites do have the advantage of size and internal resources but they are not immune either. The health vertical is a prime example, some large sites have been absolutely hammered in the last 12-18 months by both panda and penguin.


08/29/2013 10:59 pm

Matt Cutts is the millionaire already. He earned his money by his brain. If you want to have decent income as well, then you should know and talk about this study. Then your brain will work in right direction you'll get the chance.

David DuVal

08/29/2013 11:08 pm

I'm not complaining about my income or wealth. But you made a great point about many people not even knowing they are clicking on ads. That would be a good one for the FTC.

David DuVal

08/29/2013 11:38 pm

And most of the results for drug related searches have Google Adsense on their site. Hmmm....

Jan Dunlop

08/29/2013 11:53 pm

Adsense has got nothing to do with it.

David DuVal

08/29/2013 11:57 pm

If you look at the Canadian pharmacy lawsuit, history tells us otherwise. ;) Granted, maybe less of a deal now.


08/30/2013 01:08 am

Hm ... I never thought I will do something like this ) Thanks you brought considerable arguments )

Durant Imboden

08/30/2013 01:32 am

To carry your argument to its logical conclusion, Google should simply eliminate the organic search results and replace them with ads (at least for topics that attract advertising). Sounds like a win-win-win: Google earns more ad revenue, users don't have to scroll down the page, and traffic goes to the sites that want it most (as measured by how much they're willing to pay for it).


08/30/2013 02:34 am

Canadian pharmacy lawsuit didn't ruled, that Adsense can't be placed on the drug related pages.


08/30/2013 03:15 am

It would be easier to tell which big sites should not belong to top positions in many queries

Amit Kumar

08/30/2013 08:17 am

He is asking this because he want to send adwords coupon to these small site owners.......Great Strategy Matt..HAHAAAA


08/30/2013 02:16 pm

A strange request! I wonder how many people are sending their sites in to get a quick review?

osman musa

08/30/2013 02:20 pm

@Amit Kumar, they already mail adwords coupons lol. I think they are serious about this. I just sent mine in for review. I got straight to the point on why my small site deserves to rank better. I wonder if why he is asking this may be related to an upcoming rank update?


08/30/2013 06:46 pm

recent study by google??? i will more believe to santa claus study.

Amit Kumar

08/30/2013 08:35 pm

Its all about money game and people like you think matt is doing jobs for you or making algo to make your site rank up...Please grow-up and feel the heat of todays internet marketing world....;)

John Britsios

08/30/2013 11:00 pm

Your interpretation is just too broad. Can you please be more precise?

John Britsios

08/30/2013 11:02 pm

Or you are kidding us or you have too much time to play in the SEO community. Since when Google needs something like that to reach site owners?

John Britsios

08/30/2013 11:03 pm

It would be nice if you are right there, but IMO you are wrong. There are some many rankings and other factors that you must be able to examine and to tell if they are ranking unfairly.


08/31/2013 08:09 am

it possibly to define by one phrase - "my small site deserving top rankings"!


08/31/2013 08:18 am

they see what losing trustrank very quickly and trying "bear moves" to little bit improve situation and show what they are "care".


08/31/2013 08:21 am

wikipedia (white list, lot of exact match anchors, lot of links from spin content), youtube (lot of blackhat, bad anchors chart), amazon (IM, get lot of links for money - via affiliates program) for example

Amit Kumar

08/31/2013 01:05 pm

If they don't have intention like that. Please lets us know why they peoples asking for this? are they people really think that small site don't deserve top ranking. Read cutt's tweet carefully first then comment..


09/01/2013 03:58 am

Should the raking of a site be influenced by its size? If yes why? What does matter if a site is small on big when it comes to ranking and what are the measures that are used to determine the size of a site


09/01/2013 08:42 am

If Google want relevant content on sites, why should it matter whether it's a small site or a large one? Besides, if I was starting out small and I wanted my site to grow, wouldn't it be silly to have a small one, grow it to be a big one only to have Google slap you for successfully growing the content? Seems counter productive.

John Britsios

09/02/2013 06:50 am

It is amazing how confident you feel about your web site. Would be curious to see that site and its link profile.

John Britsios

09/02/2013 06:52 am

Like every software quality assurance process needs feedback, the same is with Google. Makes sense?

Seo Specialists India

09/02/2013 10:45 am

What is parameter of BIG and SMALL in Eye of GOOGLE Search.. 1) Does it mean BIG traffic or small Traffic? 2) Few pages of Big number of Pages... Unless this point get clear how MC would find the answer... As we know traffic do not influence Ranking System... Yes big number of Pages bit helpful to rank. It really a Question Why MC want to know this Difference... AS we know google SE DMAGED Se rank to all big and SMALL website...


09/03/2013 06:39 pm

small site never will grow to big one, if no traffic.

osman musa

09/06/2013 06:32 am

I don't know if filling out the form improved my rank or if other things I did improved it because on September 5th, i noticed like i am getting 100 visitors or more for most of my articles each.

Juan Manuel Garrido

09/12/2013 12:34 am

Another joke from Mr. Cutts!


09/12/2013 07:06 pm

Reminds me of when Sparta fought the Peloponnesian War. After they won the Spartan King asked an oppressed subjugated minority the Helots who did fight alongside of Sparta during the war “who among them thought they deserved recognition for their valor and contribution to the victory” Well a few Sad Sacks were gullible enough to stand up and say I do. Well those guys got the sword.

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