Google algorithm change – big brand bias?
Ian Lurie Aug 20 2010
Google just announced a change to their algorithm: They’re now going to show more pages from a single domain for certain queries.
You’re tempted to run out into the street, strip naked with sheer joy and yell OMG all our troubles are over reputation management now a cinch!!!
Wrooooong. Stay inside. Keep yer clothes on. Google’s webmaster blogging team is as detailed as ever (cough). They use the query ‘exhibitions at amnh’ as their example, and sure enough, that turns up 7 results from from amnh.org:
That may seem like a sign that you’ll dominate page 1 of the rankings for any branded search, but not so. Oh, if you’re a big brand, or a well known institution like the American Museum of Natural History, you’re golden. AMNH dominates page one for a brand query:
Alas, for us mere mortals, that’s not the case. Do a search for ‘Portent Interactive’, and you’ll see only two listings:
Search for ‘Portent Interactive info’, on the other hand, and you get seven results from my company’s site:
I did 6 other tests, comparing big and small sites. Same result. If you’re Toshiba, you’re smiling. If you’re Solar Joos, no change when it comes to a search for our brand name.
The way it (seems) to work
Here’s how the new algo appears to work: If you’re a big, big brand or organization, you can grab 5-7 of the top 10 positions with pages from your own domain whether someone searches for [brand name] + [informational keyword] or just [brand name].
If you’re a small brand/organization, though, you can only grab 5-7 of the top 10 positions for [brand name] + [informational keyword].
Uh. Why, exactly?
Google: Big brand bias, for real?
A lot of well-known SEO bloggers believe that Google now biases their organic rankings towards big brands. I don’t think Google’s intentionally set out to favor big brands, myself. I think it’s a side effect of their algorithm. But that doesn’t change the result. It’s sure easier to rank big if you are big.
This new change seems a little more ominous to me. If this algorithm change applies to all brands and sites for informational searches, why wouldn’t it apply to all brands and sites for brand searches, too? I mean, if someone searches for ‘Portent Interactive’, isn’t it pretty obvious they’re interested in my web site?
I have no answer. I’m going to go buy some tin foil for a hat, though…
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More