Brands In Google Search Results
Google has made a change recently to the search results that mean certain brands are set to dominate the SERPS for search terms closely related to their company. This is something that has been discussed before but the results have been more noticeable of late. What seems to be happening now is a keyword term that is regarded as a brand related search brings back a dominated list of results for that brands website. It’s actually more than just a brand though, any search term that is describing an entity seems to work in this way .
Just to be clear this means that if you search for a certain term and Google can recognise that the user is likely looking for something on specific website, it will dominate the search results with results from that website either entirely or mostly. So for example we have noticed this on client called Turquoise Holidays which their website is on www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk.
If you make a search for the brand name “Turquoise Holidays” then the first 7 results are all from the turquoiseholidays.co.uk website. Only a few weeks ago the results were completely different and would show only 2 listings at most and the second result was an indented version of the main site, most likely the honeymoons section as it appeared Google was assessing which part of the site was the most dominate area. This is the same as doing a search now for “wmps” where you see our main site first then the blog home page as the indented second listing.
This even goes one step further though and applies this rule to search terms where the entity is included but not just on its own. So for example “amazon books”. Typing in this search query brings back almost all the results as amazon pages. Granted some are for the .co.uk version which appear at the top as I am searching from the UK but also some from the .com and one even from a sub domain of the .co.uk. There is only one other result in there which is from the Nectar website. The SERPs still feature alternative displays where neccessary which is postive such as news posts, images, videos etc.
What does this mean for users and brands?
Well it means quite a lot actually, for one the brands that are benefiting from these searches have just eliminated a mass of affiliate or sneaky competition who were appearing in the natural search listings underneath there site. Obviously this means the days of losing clicks to competitors who have a nicer sounding META description than yours are potentially over, well that is until you consider the paid search ads which will now be increasingly desirable for any competitors.
If you are going to be cynical you could even argue that this seems to have been done at a time when Google has relaxed rules on competitor trademark advertising even more and potentially means a new stream of revenue coming in from competitors who want to appear for a search term of one of their closest competitors as the paid search route is now the only way to cash in on this.
For users it means seeing results more suited to what they likely looking for in the first place in my opinion. A search for Amazon books really doesn’t leave much scope open for what else the user would want to have seen apart from a selection of web pages from Amazon offering books for sale and book reviews. This is taking nothing away from the competition who arguably offer a similar service and sell similar items who will be annoyed that they are no longer appearing for free, but its not what the user wants to see based on their search term.
The immediate effect that brands should see is a rise in overall longer tail traffic to their website that includes the entity or brand term within it. Similarly competitors and affiliates should start to see that traffic tailing off. At this stage the list is not exhaustive for all brands and there are a lot that are still not functioning in this way.
How does it work?
This is something I am currently pondering myself, as what determines whether a brand or entity term is necessarily related to that website is not an exact science. It was about as exact as deciding which website to rank top for the same search result before this update was made but now it’s a lot more important as if Google gets it wrong, you will not only have to scroll down one or two places to find the site you were actually looking for but now even go onto the next page of results.
Even the prospect of how Google identifies whether the search is a brand / entity full stop is interesting enough. This is debated in a recent post on SEO by the sea and is covered in more detail than I can do justice here.
Essentially though Google will work this out on the same way it works out relevant websites for any query. If a website URL, META data, content, inbound links and previous click through rates from that keyword all support the same brand term then that is likely to be a safe enough bet that its the right site. There will undoubtedly be times when this is wrong and you see a page of irrelevant results for the search you made, and this will either mean the way people search will change slightly to accommodate for it, or more likely that Google will refine the algorithm even further to make sure it works more of the time.Tweet