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Online Branding – big brands vs. little brands vs. any brand

General Definition:
Brand = Trade Name; A Name given to a Product or Service

Google’s Definition (aka Matt Cutts):
Brand = x + Trust, Authority, Reputation, PR, High Quality
where x = whatever name/names given to a product or service (as above)
Synonym for Brand = Known in your Niche

Reading posts and listening to interviews on the Google “Vince” update/changes released about a month ago has me shaking my head at the concerns of supposed favoritism towards “Big Brands” in the Google search results.

I see and hear things about companies having significant ranking drops after this update. Really?? Why?? Who is doing your SEO??

And, what do you mean by brand? I give some definitions above, but, as examples, to me, Nike is a brand, so is Adidas. Starbucks, Arm & Hammer, Kleenex and Ford are also brand names. But, at the same time, Running Shoes, Coffee, Baking Soda, Facial Tissue, Cars and so on are not brands – these are generic terms otherwise known as broad keywords. If, for example, you are not Nike and you do not own the company, the name or the product, but you sell Nike Shoes, are you one of those that lost some rankings? Did you out-rank for the keyword “Nike Shoes”?

Maybe, just maybe, a few quick logical suggestions will clear the air for those sites that were affected by ranking drops and get them to work at doing what they should have been doing all along and/or correct their misleading rankings.

It seems that the “Big Brands” were not affected by the Google “Vince” changes but that the “Small Brands” were affected. Let’s consider why or why not a site might have had ranking changes related to a brand:

1) A “big brand” is probably a “smart brand” because we categorize them as a “big” brand! They wouldn’t be “big” if we had never heard of their name or brand, would they?! A “big brand” is a big brand because they are known in their niche.
2) A “big brand” needs to use their brand so we know that name. If they didn’t then why would we know of that brand?
3) A new brand name is probably going to be the first to use that “new” name before anyone else if they expect it to become that brand. If they don’t use it first then they may lose the opportunity to be that brand as someone else may take that name.
4) To “use” your brand online means you will need to have the text version of your name/brand somewhere online – sorry, graphics are still not actually seen without a text-based alt tag! A smart brand will use that name/brand on their site. If they don’t mention their brand on their site then it’s quite likely no one will know that they are that brand.
5) And if that brand is really smart, they’ll actually own the domain name that has their brand name in it. It might be difficult for a “big brand” to be considered a “big brand” if someone else owned the domain name of that brand!
6) If you do not own that brand but you sell that brand, are you really the authority for that brand? Should you be?
7) Wouldn’t it just be possible that when Google algorithmically sets up certain criteria that affect a page’s rankings that they might be looking at the age of the page, the Page Rank and inbound links referencing that site page by name, notice how many sites or viewers refer to the site page, and see the domain name, word use, and more across the website pages? Do you think Google needs a checklist of sites that should rank over others just because they are a big brand? Should Google have a checklist of all brands? When does a “small” brand cross over to become a “big” brand so they could get on this list? If you really think those are questions that should be answered or discussed then I strongly recommend you start doing a little more research on how rankings are achieved!

The Google “Vince” update/change did not apply to brands specifically. It applied to how you use your words, when you use them, the associations with those words, who points to you using them, and who started using them first. It has been tested time and time again that one can make up a word and rank #1 for that word. Why wouldn’t they, why shouldn’t they. So, start your own brand and see. But you will still need to work hard at developing your information if you want that brand associated with a generic term as well? That’s what trust, authority, reputation, PR, high quality is all about.

I will let you in on a little secret. I did get one client who signed up for SEO Services with me years ago. First thing I noticed is that they didn’t rank for their own name and, their partners, affiliates and resellers all out-ranked them for that name. Well, it wasn’t surprising, they didn’t once mention their own name on their website. They only ever referred to themselves as “we”. Their partners, affiliates and resellers all mentioned them by name. It didn’t take much to turn that one around. They rank #1 for their name and other keywords too now! So, use your name, use the product name you sell or service, use your brand along with the broad keywords describing your product or service, work at becoming an authority, develop the trust, reputation, etc. and you will get your just deserts with rankings and hopefully decent conversions too!! And… you won’t be affected by silly little tweaks made by Google. Also… stop thinking Google is out to play favorites with certain sites when they may not really be deserved! Take your time and get to work rather than complain or blame.