Here at Epiphany, we have been well aware of the lack of search engine optimisation being undertaken by the vast majority of SuperBrands for a long time now, and even continually monitor SuperBrand visibility in the Market Insights section of our website. Last month, my colleague Alex blogged about how SuperBrands rely almost completely upon their brand name and associated terms within search engines, ignoring all product and service search traffic. Well, last week Google announced a radical change in its search algorithm that could possibly help SuperBrands out in this respect.
The change lets a single brand dominate over 80% of all organic listings in a SERP. Google deems that if a user searches for a domain, or associated brand terminology, that they only wish to view websites of that particular brand and they remove all but 20% of other results from page 1. Google said of this in a statement: “Today we've launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site. For queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain, like [exhibitions at amnh], we'll now show more results from the relevant site. Prior to this change, only two results from www.amnh.org would have appeared for this query. Now, we determine that the user is likely to be interested in the Museum of Natural History's website, so seven results from the amnh.org domain appear. Since the user is looking for exhibitions at the museum, it's far more likely that they'll find what they're looking for, faster. The last few results for this query are from other sites, preserving some diversity in the results.” Now, this obviously opened a huge can of worms in the SEO community and sparked a great deal of debate. Will it benefit or hinder SEO? My personal opinion is that regarding brand and domain searches on their own, very little will change. If a search for a domain or company term is made, the chances are that the user is already well aware of what information they require from Google. It will also help to protect the brand names against potential reputation issues. The impact will come in terms of product searches that include the brand name. It appears that in the UK this change has not yet been fully rolled out, however in the US, a search for “Apple iPod” or “HP printer” for example, returns only official brand websites on the 1st page. This bumps all other retailers of the product down onto the 2nd page and beyond. The impact of this will be huge on non-SuperBrand businesses. Optimising for brand terms will be almost useless, unless Google users become savvy enough to realise that they must now view page 2 and onwards of a SERP in order to start shopping for products from stores other than from the brands themselves.