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Does Google Favor Brands?


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Presentation given at SMX West showing that Google has no algorithmic bias for big brands or big business.

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Does Google Favor Brands?

  1. 2. DOES GOOGLE FAVOR BRANDS? AN IN-DEPTH LOOK Bryson Meunier Director, Content Solutions Resolution Media 2/28/2012
  2. 3. AGENDA <ul><li>The Arguments For </li></ul><ul><li>The Evidence Against </li></ul><ul><li>Four Takeaways </li></ul>
  3. 4. THE ARGUMENTS FOR <ul><li>Google admits it </li></ul><ul><li>Brands rank above non-brands routinely in Google </li></ul><ul><li>There are many places for brands in search results </li></ul>
  4. 5. HASTY GENERALIZATION Cartoon originally copyrighted by the authors; G. Renee Guzlas, artist
  5. 6. THE EVIDENCE AGAINST <ul><li>Does Google Favor Brands? </li></ul>
  6. 7. RESULTS ARE ATYPICAL <ul><li>Only 7 queries studied in Aaron Wall’s original brand study </li></ul>[daily deals] [recipes] [new york hotels] [credit cards] [music downloads]
  7. 8. RESULTS ARE ATYPICAL <ul><li>Keyword-based rather than organic traffic based </li></ul>
  8. 9. RESULTS CAN’T BE DUPLICATED <ul><li>54% of the domains in Aaron Wall’s original brand study are no longer ranking </li></ul>
  9. 10. NO CLEAR BRAND BIAS IN DATA PRESENTED <ul><li>If you look only at OEMs vs store brands, only 40% of the domains in Aaron Wall’s query study are brands </li></ul><ul><li>If you segment it by store and OEM brands, 54% are brands and 46% are small brands or SMBs </li></ul><ul><li>Almost half of the queries presented are either deadlocked or have a majority of non-brands ranking today </li></ul>
  10. 11. ANALYSIS OF TOP SITES SHOWS OTHERWISE <ul><li>61% of top 100 SEMRush domains are not companies in the Fortune 500. </li></ul><ul><li>91% of top domains are not top 100 global brands </li></ul><ul><li>89% are not associated with the top 10 AdWords advertisers, and 30% of them don’t even buy AdWords </li></ul>Download the Whitepaper at
  11. 12. ANALYSIS OF TOP BRANDS SHOWS OTHERWISE <ul><li>Only 9 of the top 100 brands were also listed in SEMRush’s top 100 domains (9% of total): Yahoo! (#3), Google (#4), (#5), Apple (#8), eBay (#11), Microsoft (#16), Disney (#45), Adobe (#74) and MTV (#87). </li></ul><ul><li>Only 36 of the top 100 brands were within the first 1000 domains of SEMRush’s ranked list (3% of total). </li></ul><ul><li>The range for the rank of the top 100 global brands was #3 for Yahoo! to #251,000 for Nescafe. </li></ul><ul><li>The average SEMRush rank for the world’s top brands is 13,874 with a median of 1,900. </li></ul><ul><li>The world’s top brand, Coca Cola, fared worse than many brands below it, with a rank of 3,800. And Coca Cola has employed a full-time SEO agency for years. </li></ul> Download the Whitepaper at
  12. 13. RESULTS ARE ATYPICAL <ul><li>Car image sharing startup site went from 12,000 images indexed to 403,000 in six months </li></ul><ul><li>Monthly organic visits (the brand’s primary goal metric) grew 4198.61% from 1,083 to 46,554 in six months </li></ul><ul><li>Organic search went from 11% of total visits to 41% of total visits in six months </li></ul>Small brands/businesses can still succeed in organic search with white hat SEO
  13. 14. ENTERPRISE SEOS HAVE UNIQUE CHALLENGES <ul><li>Legal </li></ul><ul><li>Conflicting departmental standards/politics </li></ul><ul><li>Lost knowledge due to turnover </li></ul><ul><li>Design and development teams with no knowledge of SEO </li></ul><ul><li>Executives with no understanding of SEO and no buy-in </li></ul>
  14. 15. QUOTES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT <ul><li>&quot;Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool. </li></ul><ul><li>We don't actually want you to be successful. The fundamental way to increase your rank is to increase your relevance.” </li></ul><ul><li>Eric Schmidt, then Google CEO, addressing publishers and editors on October 8, 2008 </li></ul>
  15. 16. RELATED LINKS AND SUGGESTIONS ARE USER DRIVEN &quot;Brand affinity is clearly hard wired. It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.&quot; - Eric Schmidt
  16. 17. QUOTES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT <ul><li>“ And we actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or  New York Times  is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. </li></ul><ul><li>-Matt Cutts, “ TED 2011: The ‘Panda’ That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers </li></ul><ul><li>Wired, March 3, 2011 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>And you can really see mathematical reasons.”
  17. 18. QUOTES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT <ul><li>Times “brand” mentioned in the interview: </li></ul><ul><li>Zero </li></ul>
  18. 19. QUOTES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT <ul><li>“ But you know inside of Google, at least within the search ranking team, we don’t really think about brands. We think about words like trust, authority, reputation, PageRank, high quality. And so the Google philosophy on search results has been the same pretty much forever. It’s that if somebody comes to Google and types an X, we want to return high quality information about X. And sometimes that’s a brand search, sometimes that’s an informational search, sometimes it’s transactional, so there are all sorts of different information needs that people have.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Matt Cutts, “ Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings?”, March 4, 2009 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  19. 20. BRAND VS. QUALITY AND AUTHORITY <ul><li>Wikipedia is the top result in the SEMRush top sites list, with 3x the organic traffic of the number 2 listing, Facebook. Wikipedia also appears for more keywords than any other site on the Internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is operated by a non-profit called Wikimedia with 80 employees and $24.7 million in revenue ($6 million minus costs) for 2011. </li></ul>
  20. 21. BRAND VS. QUALITY AND AUTHORITY The #500 company on the Fortune 500 had revenues 177 times larger than Wikimedia Foundation in 2011.
  21. 22. FOUR TAKEAWAYS… <ul><li>Does Google Favor Brands? </li></ul>
  22. 23. 1. AFFILIATES AND SMALL BUSINESSES CAN COMPETE IN GOOGLE SEARCH <ul><ul><li>Move quickly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Build your brand, but focus on trust, authority and quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make your brand something searchers are already looking for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use ranking factors large brands won’t. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work on your business model. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. 2. BIG BRANDS ARE NOT ALWAYS WINNING <ul><li>Don’t get complacent </li></ul><ul><li>Staff appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>Use words people are searching for </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t handicap your site </li></ul><ul><li>Make SEO a priority from the CEO </li></ul>
  24. 25. 3. KILL YOUR SEO IDOLS <ul><li>Not literally </li></ul><ul><li>Argument from authority is a logical fallacy </li></ul><ul><li>Hold SEO experts to the high standards that got them where they are </li></ul>
  25. 26. 4. GIVE GOOGLE A BREAK <ul><li>No one in this room would have a job without Google </li></ul><ul><li>They are a large company with many stakeholders and still manage to focus on user experience in search results </li></ul>
  26. 27. <ul><li>Bryson Meunier </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Content Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution Media </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>@brysonmeunier </li></ul>THANK YOU! Scan to visit