SEO Tip #29: Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings?

Matt Cutts: I’ll try to give a pretty complete answer to this. I was planning talking about it a little bit more at PubCon in Austin in just a couple weeks.

Inside Google at least within the search ranking team, we don’t really think about brands. We think about words like trust, authority, reputation, PageRank, and high quality. 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. Sometimes that’s the brand search, sometimes that’s an informational search, sometimes it’s navigational, and sometimes it’s transactional.

There are all sorts of different information needs that people have. So first off yes Google has made a change in our rankings. It’s one of over three or four hundred changes that we’ve make every year. So I wouldn’t call this an update. I would call it a simple change.

If you have to refer to it, Vince was one of the people that did a lot of work on it. And this particular change we sort of talk about it as being Vince’s change within the Googleplex. So I wouldn’t really call it an update, but I would say that there has been at least a change in how we do some rankings.

It doesn’t affect the vast majority of queries and most people haven’t even noticed it. I mean Aaron talked about it and I think even before that people on Webmaster were talking about it. But it affects a relatively small number of queries. It’s not like it affects a ton of long tail queries or anything like that.

I don’t think of it as putting more weight on brands. We really don’t think about brands and search quality that much. For example if you type Eclipse, if Google were really focused on brands we might return Mitsubishi Eclipse at number one or something like that.

If you actually go to Google and type in Eclipse, we’ve got because there’s a development environment. We have NASA’s Eclipse website. Then there are some commercial results. For example, Eclipse is the name of that book in the Twilight series so we’ve got a page from Amazon. It’s not that we try to always return brands. We try to return whatever we think the best results are for users.

So the net update, the net upshot of this change is pretty simple. We try to return high quality results. We think a lot about trust, reputation, authority, and PageRank. So what you should be doing doesn’t change. Try to make a great site.

Try to make it the site that is so fantastic that you’ve sort of become known as an authority in your niche. And it doesn’t have to be a big niche. It doesn’t have to be a huge well-known keyword; it can be a smaller niche. And if you’re still the expert that’s the sort of thing that people are going to want to link to that they’ll talk about, the sort of things that people really enjoy. And those sorts of sites, the experts that we want to bring back.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.