On March 4, Matt Cutts responded to questions from concerned SEOs and webmasters regarding Google’s apparent shift towards pushing known brands in the Search engine results.
The basic observation made by the SEO community at large is that since February 2009, search results for generic terms such as “car” or “laptop” have been favoring the big brand names more than ever before. Obviously, branded companies boast digital marketing budgets and consumer awareness that greatly surpass lesser known brands, but many, including Aaron Wall, speculate that this month saw a spike in the rankings of brand heavyweights like never before.
In his video response, Matt starts by explaining that while there was a recent change in the algorithm, it was not a major update, rather just one of 300 – 400 simple algorithm changes that Google performs annually. Some of the staff over at Googleplex have nicknamed this algorithm tweak “Vince’s Algorithm Change“, in reference to one of Google’s engineers extensively involved in its completion.
Matt goes on to explain that the concept of “Brand” does not really exist in Google’s indexing system. Instead, the notion of trust (TrustRank) is strengthened, relevant inbound links are discussed as usual, and Matt also touches on some of the other standard Google guidelines.
Take a look at the video. Oh, and for some humor, watch as Matt accidentally mixes his words at 2:48 in. “The um, net update, the net uh upshot of this change is pretty simple…”. Just kidding Matt!
…off to strengthen my brand.
If there’s any question in your mind whether social media is merely a passing trend or a major consideration in any internet marketing campaign, wonder no longer.
Last month, more than 200 major advertising and market research executive representatives attended the sold out Industry Leader Forum – “Transforming Research. Are You Listening” – held by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). The ARF, a leading Research Transformation initiative, will
enable members to stay ahead of the curve in a fast-changing, consumer-driven world.
The event, which took place in New York on Oct 29, focused primarily on methods of tracking the ubiquitous online discussions of brands, companies, products and services that numerous social media web sites and platforms host. Bob Barocci, President and CEO of The ARF, shed some light on several of the newer terms being used by advertising researchers, such as ‘listening pipes’, ‘storytelling’, ‘inspiration’, ‘content masters’ (referring to millennials), ‘consumer backyard’ and ‘brand backyard’.
Case histories of “listening” in action were presented by General Mills, MTV, Sony Electronics, and Unilever. Obama pollster Joel Benenson, revealed how public perceptions were gathered in the president-elect’s leading-edge electoral campaign.
The Arf’s Research Transformation Council are:
- Joel Benenson – Founding Partner & President, Benenson Strategy Group – Co-Founder, iModerate, & pollster for Barack Obama
- Jonathan Carson – President, International, Nielsen Online
- Kim Dedeker – VP, External Capability Leadership-Global Consumer & Market Knowledge, Procter & Gamble
- Jeff Flemings – SVP, Renaissance Planning, VivaKi
- Gayle Fuguitt – VP, Consumer Insights, General Mills
- Stephen Kim – Senior Director, Microsoft Branded Experiences and Entertainment, Microsoft Advertising
- Michael Perman – Senior Director, Levi Strauss
- Eric Salama – Chairman and CEO, Kantar
- Patti Wakeling – Senior Manager, Media Insights, Unilever
Pete Blackshaw, the Executive Vice President of the Digital Strategic Services group at Nielsen Online gave a presentation on the “Six Signals of Listening to the Unprompted Voice of the Consumer.“. Pete is a recognized expert in interactive marketing, word of mouth, and consumer understanding, and originally coined the term consumer-generated media (CGM). See Pete’s summary of the highlights from October’s event in his video below.
The ARF’s next Forum will be a one day workshop from 8:00AM to 6:00PM on January 27, 2009 at Bently Reserve, San Francisco. Confirmed speakers include:
- Kim Dedeker (Proctor & Gamble)
- Joel Benenson (Benenson Strategy Group)
- Michael Perman (Levi Strauss)
- Pete Blackshaw (Nielsen Online)
Very exciting stuff!
I just discovered The Poetic Prophet (AKA The SEO Rapper). Here he is rapping about how web standards and proper design can affect the ranking and conversion of pages on your site. Visit the Poetic Prophet’s YouTube page. You know you want to.
Yesterday, Google launched SearchWiki, the biggest news in Web 2.0 since sliced Wikipedia. Once logged into your google account, SearchWiki allows you move search results up or out of Google’s index, for your own personalized results on return visits to the Goog. As well as allowing users to edit, reorder, and remove search results to their liking, SearchWiki allows public commenting on search results, letting others know their opinions on individual web sites [Insert scary music here]. Google’s reasoning here is to make it easier for you to find the results that best suit our needs, with these custom indexed results stored in your Google Account.
Well, for those of us with hearts already 100% dedicated to Google, we’ll now have to find other parts of ourselves to dedicate to our beloved search behemoth.
Of course, these pseudo-bookmarked, tailored search results fit nicely into our relatively recent, present day social-media-heavy virtual existence. In the same vein as Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Digg, Sphinn, Reddit, Technorati, and countless others, Google now allows us to share our thoughts amongst each other – on the good, bad, and the ugly of all the sites in the Interverse. But wait. Google tells us that
The changes you make only affect your own searches. Well, we’ll see how long until Google revises that statement, because
once if those changes did affect public indexing, we might never have to leave Google for online bookmarking or social-networking communities at all. The comments you leave however, will be public.
I don’t know how I’d feel if Google did incorporate the voting system into their results. Actually, I think I do. Personally, I prefer to surf recommendation engines such as StumbleUpon, or other social networking sites such as Digg when I feel like browsing social media. The way I see it, the thing that sets the internet apart from all other forms of media is that the “hits” don’t necessarily prevail in search engines; instead, the Long Tail of media, including the “misses”, have as much of a chance of producing results in the SERPs – as long as the results are relevant. Granted, “relevant” results – while being based on indexing algorithms – do rely on some forms of indirect user input. One site linking to another, for example, counts as a vote in the eyes of Google’s Pagerank algorithm. I just don’t know if I’m ready to welcome the fact wholeheartedly that ‘what mainstream internet deems to be the best results’ could affect my Google experience in such a direct way. In any case, for now at least, the changes we make only affect our own searches.
So Google, you still do it for me, but…
As Googey-baby states:
SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the ‘See all notes for this SearchWiki’ link.
I don’t remember ever seeing an online
grafitti feedback system that wasn’t chalk full of gorilla marketing. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.
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