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Question: what's the fastest way to get top SERPs on Google?

Answer: after Google recently updated its algorithm, it just might be: be a big brand.

seobook.com's Aaron wall has an interesting post showing how a number of big brands just started ranking for lucrative keywords such as 'airline tickets', 'auto insurance' and 'watches'.

Wall states that these aren't anomalies:

There are thousands of other such examples across all industries if you take the time to do the research, but the trend is clear - Google is promoting brands for big money core category keywords.

If he's right about the extent of the update, this is obviously good news for big brands and potentially bad news for everyone else.

Needless to say, some who are competing for highly competitive keywords and who aren't on the Fortune 500 are concerned.

One comment stated:

...to add a little more proof, we've pretty much been outranking AT&T for several years, but most importantly for the keyword "phone cards" (no quotes). On Monday I did a quick check and noticed that AT&T was sitting pretty at #1 and I KNOW they don't try nearly as hard with their SEO efforts as do we and other smaller competitors.

Of course, Google does include trust factors in its algorithm and perhaps this latest update has changed the way they're weighted, although one could make the argument that big brands, while recognized by consumers, don't always engender trust when it comes to the customer experience.

Or it could be that Google is looking at other factors. Search Engine Watch's Frank Watson writes:

To make this happen Google had to use some method to measure - brands do not shout out numbers that an algorithm can measure - in normal circumstances. Are they being rewarded for years of PPC spend - not likely.

My theory - and is only that - is they may be using some sort of measuring of typed in traffic numbers. But no doubt the methodology will be explore quite a bit over the coming weeks and be a major conversation piece at SES NYC next month.

Whatever the case, if Google's last update is really as big as it looks, SEOs will have their hands full trying to dissect it and figuring out how to compete when they don't have a big brand advantage. The cat and mouse game continues.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 February, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2406 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Stephen Pratley

Stephen Pratley, Digtal Marketing Consultant at Visibly Better Marketing Limited

Hopefully the cat and mouse game ends and businesses can start focussing on building websoites that deliver valuable content, and attracting visitors from sites that have some genuine affinity with them.

SEM has stood for 'search engine manipulation' for too long, maybe one day we can get back to 'search engine marketing'

I'm as curious as anyone else  to know what they've weighted differently in the latest algorithm. If they have found ways to genuinely measure thigs like 'trust' and 'authority' then it means Google is now less gullible than many of its users.

Maybe they've just dropped everyone's adwords budgets into the mix, or started adding brand research panel data? That would be an interesting move!

over 7 years ago

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Eric Itzkowitz

Hi Patricio, nice follow-up on this topic.

I am the owner of the comment on SEOBOOK:

to add a little more proof, we've pretty much been outranking AT&T for several years, but most importantly for the keyword "phone cards" (no quotes). On Monday I did a quick check and noticed that AT&T was sitting pretty at #1 and I KNOW they don't try nearly as hard with their SEO efforts as do we and other smaller competitors.

As such, I want to clarify that we do continue to rank extremely well for that particular keyword (deservedly so), AT&T just moved up to number one.

Quite frankly, I believe that all of the trust factors came into play here (old crusty domain, old company, deep pockets, tons of content, lots of sitewide inlinks, big AdWords advertiser, etc.) along with this recent tweek to Google's algo. 

I also firmly believe that this is yet another very loud signal to affiliate marketers stating in no unclear terms, "We told you that your thin affiliate site(s) wouldn't last forever." Affiliate marketers (depending upon their business model), now more than ever, will really need to kick up their game and create a stronger brand for any site they develop if they want it to achieve strong long-term rankings. This is good news for SEOs. (:

Likewise, I also believe that this is another way Google can get more website owners to become paying advertisers. If you were ranking well and were earning a nice revenue, which just became significantly impacted due to a lower ranking, well you might just become an AdWords advertiser reeeeallly quick, right? Maybe this is part of their business plan--rotating rankings to ensure we all get addicted to traffic. LOL

So, in the end they will generate more advertising revenue and clean up their index. Just a thought. (:

over 7 years ago

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Anonymous

I'm sure that it's to do with increasing adwords revenue, like the guy said in the previous comment. We have been seeing a couple of occurances of this in our niche (footwear) over the past few weeks...

over 7 years ago

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