I am sure most if not all of you have heard about “how Google is going to focus on branding” and have read the research over at http://www.seobook.com/ , it seems to have scared all SEO‘s into oblivion. Reading some of the comments under the article makes you think it is the end of the world!
“It is no longer a level playing field with big money firms being the only ones who can make it”
“No smaller businesses are going to be able to compete”
I am not going to go into the full story but what has basically happened is Aaron Wall at SEO book has published an excellent article showing recent pattern changes in the serps relating to some competitive keywords such as insurance, health, finance.
The results seem pretty convincing in the last 3 months brands in these sectors have jumped onto the first page, some from as low down as 200th place. Makes scary reading if you fully buy into the “brand theory”.
I won’t dwell on the theory any more, if you want to read more about it visit Aaron at seobook.
However what I will make clear to all my readers and clients is that I genuinely believe there is absolutely nothing to fear, as long as you are a genuine webmaster trying to fill Google’s index with real quality.
There are a few reasons why I personally believe this and I would just like to take some of your time to run through them.
1) Google’s aim is to put the best sites at the top
By this we mean the best quality, most relevant and most useful information. If Google simply turns to putting the main brands at the top of search results it is basically going to look like a long list of ads filled with annoying sales pitches.
2) How does Google establish a brand?
There has been uttering’s, suggesting Google may establish brands by analysing how often it is mentioned online and where it is mentioned. I think they will establish a brand a little differently and my theory is based on Matt Cutt’s comments on the webmaster blog .
Matt stressed the importance of analysing website trends, he mentioned specifically the Google Trends for websites . You can analyse a portfolio of websites a visitor may go to by analysing one website. Let me explain, is you analyse http://www.seobook.com/ you can see that visitors that go there also visit;
Why does this fit into branding. I firmly believe that your brand will be decided on where your visitors come from and where they go from your site. This is almost like the “good vs bad neighbourhood” debate.
The sites your visitors are associated with will determine the strength of your brand and trust.
How Does This Relate?
I think Google will measure a brand based on your trust factor, who your linking to and who you are receiving links from, where your customers are coming from and where they are then heading to. The more quality, the more trust a better brand!
Why should SEO’s be worried? is this not what we have been trying to do all along, help our clients and our sites gain better visibility by establishing them in there niche? I think so.
3) A side point
A quick point I also wanted to make relates to a statement by Matt Cutts in his presentation, he stresses the importance of analytics and the user experience for things to concentrate on in 2009.
We need to think about our bounce rates, ROI, and page views. Are visitors interacting with our content? If not, why would Google keep us at the top of the serps???
For me these are the things Google wants to see in 2009 “a better user experience”, some people accuse Matt of shying away from direct questions about SEO, not wanting to leak any algorithmic weaknesses, he is accused of talking up the “content is king” theory in order to duck out of other subjects. I personally feel he gives a lot of genuine information, he just doesn’t shove it in your face. Listen to the things he talks about even if it does not seem relevant and then think how it may apply to SEO.
As a quick tester I searched the highly competitive phrase “credit cards” to see what brands came up and sure enough, virgin money, co-op, mint all came up, however the top sites were all credit card review sites, which confirms to me that Google still wants to most “useful” info sitting at the top.
To sum up
- Does it matter if Google rewards brands?
- A brand is defined by it’s neighbourhood.
- Focus on where your visitors come from and go to
- Provide content that is useful and encourages interaction
- Analyse often
- Have patience and you will get there : )
No need to be worried, unless your a spammer with a site full of banner ads.
What do you guys think of this debate??
Author: Tim (293 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.