Google loves brands. Google's Vince update was referred to by many as 'the brand update' because major brands seemed to benefit most from it.

That Google would seek ways to incorporate 'brand equity' into its algorithm is not entirely surprising. After all, in many cases, there's an argument to be made that the websites of recognized brands are more likely to offer Google's users what they're searching for when it comes to particular queries.

Earlier this year, Google started experimenting with a subtle feature that, for certain queries, aimed to make it easy for its users to identify brands commonly associated with the subject of those queries. For instance, a search for 'diamonds' would highlight well-known diamond brands like DeBeers, Tiffany and Tacori.

That experiment continues, and now Google has added to it. Instead of recommending 'brands', Google has started to recommend stores as well as product types. A search for 'diamonds', for instance, returns the following:

While Google's experiment is subtle, it is important nonetheless. It serves as a reminder that brands, be they manufacturers or retailers, have many advantages when it comes to SEO, and that those advantages are only likely to get stronger going forward.

The truth is that as good at search as Google is, search is tough and getting tougher. There's a lot more chaff to sort through out there but at the same time consumers are expecting a search experience that's much more efficient and effective. So it's not really surprising that Google CEO Eric Schmidt once stated, "Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool." Brands, after all, represent familiarity, reputation and trust.

The question, however, is whether Schmidt and Google will look beyond 'Coca-Cola brands' and recognize that there are a lot of brands -- some pure-play internet -- that exist in small but nonetheless important niches. For instance, if I'm looking to buy a recumbent exercise bike, chance are I don't know the 'best' brands in this market and would probably value several recommendations here a lot more than I would a reminder about DeBeers and Tiffany when searching for 'diamonds'.

While I'm not sure how viable it is for Google to boost niche brands in this fashion, Google shouldn't overlook the potential benefits for everyone in letting smaller brands shine a little brighter in the SERPs too.

Patricio Robles

Published 2 November, 2010 by Patricio Robles

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

2642 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (6)

Save or Cancel

Nick Stamoulis

`This is a good example of why it is so important for those smaller brands to put some major efforts into establishing brand presence, in order to show Google that their brand is important enough and boost visibillity.

over 7 years ago

Simon Gornick

Simon Gornick, Owner at Moovd LLC

Google gets to have it both ways, soaking the little guy for adwords revenue, and sucking up to the 'big brands' at the same time, most likely for big fat fees. The irony, is that within the 'cesspool' of Schmidt's own description lies the consumer information that may help you with that exercise bike. The best alternative, of course, is actually trying out a few bikes at the store. But Google don't get any page views from that so surprise, surprise it's not something they'd really recommend. It's really time we stopped treating Eric "Don't be Evil" Schmidt as anything more than just another businessman trying to make a buck.

over 7 years ago

Toby Kesterton

Toby Kesterton, Head of Digital at Lab Lateral

As far as i can see Google are just split testing this idea - it is not rolled out to the wider public yet.

p.s. The logic makes sense as Site links have proved popular.

over 7 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, Chairman at Strategy Internet Marketing

"Google CEO Eric Schmidt once stated, "Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool." Brands, after all, represent familiarity, reputation and trust."

Interesting, brands taking the place of link building as a builder of trust and reputation? :-o

over 7 years ago

Steve Harvey-Franklin

Steve Harvey-Franklin, Director at Attercopia

I believe that this is just a test at the moment (as Tony K mentions). It will be interesting to watch this space.

  • Many of Google's "experiments" don't run their full course to full roll out. But they are usually more resolved with search experiments
  • It would be interesting to understand the belief system underlying the change
  • Is it giving users what they want?
  • Is it giving users what they think they want?
  • What happened to the democracy of the Internet when big brands can perpetuate their advantage and new and smaller companies face yet more barriers to entry/competition?
  • Does it help clean up internet fraud by favouring proper companies rather than scam companies?
If I can say this (after the election) .. "I agree with Nick" above, it does indeed heighten the urgency for smaller brands to establish their presence. I also think that it increases the likelihood that the smaller brands have to increasingly "box clever" and fight winnable battles rather than go head to head

over 7 years ago


san antonio gym

Hi Patricio,
Keeping the previous strategics in mind I think Google will go head to far and one of the secret of Google to get users attention and to earn business.

over 6 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.