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Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings?

Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: Hey, so we posted at 8:00 AM if anybody wanted to put some questions online. And it’s 11:00 AM, and we have 114 questions in three hours. So let’s try looking at a few of this. The first question is, “Can you verify that Google is putting more weight on “brands” in search engine rankings? If the answer is “Yes”–what is the definition–Google’s definition of a brand?” And that’s inspired by Aaron Wall’s recent blog post. That comes from Monica in Madison, Wisconsin. So I’ll try to give a pretty complete answer to this. I was planning on talking about it a little bit more at PubCon in Austin in just a couple of weeks. But, you know, inside of Google at least within the search ranking team, we don’t really think about brands. We think about words like trust, authority, reputation, page rank, high quality. And so the Google philosophy on search results has been the same pretty much forever. It’s that if somebody comes to Google and types an X, we want to return high quality information about X. And sometimes that’s a brand search, sometimes that’s an informational search, sometimes it’s navigational, sometimes it’s transactional, so they’re all sorts of different information needs that people have. I wouldn’t–so first off, yes, Google has made a change in our rankings. It’s one of over three or four hundred changes that we make every year. So I wouldn’t call this as an update, you know, I would call it just a simple change. One of the–if you have to refer to it, one of the people that did a lot of work on it, his name was Vince. And so, you know, this particular change, we talk about it as being sort of Vince’s change within the Googleplex. So I wouldn’t really call it an update, but I would say that there has been at least a change in how we do some rankings. It doesn’t affect the vast majority of queries, it’s more likely, and most people haven’t even noticed it. I mean Aaron talked about it. And I think even before that, people on Webmaster were talking about it. But it affects a relatively small number of queries. It’s not like it affects a ton of long tail queries or anything like that. I don’t think of it as putting more weight on brands. Like, we really don’t think about brands and search quality that much. For example, if you type Eclipse, if Google were really focused on brands, we might return Mitsubishi Eclipse, you know, at number one or something like that. And if you actually go to Google and type in Eclipse, we’ve got eclipse.org, you know, because there’s a development environment. We’ve got NASA’s Eclipse website. And then there are some commercial results. For example, Eclipse is the name of that book in the Twilight series, so we’ve got a page from Amazon. But it’s not that we try to always return brands, we try to return whatever we think the best results are for users. So the net update, the net upshot of this change is pretty simple, you know. We try to return high quality results. We think a lot about trust, reputation, authority, page rank. And so what you should be doing doesn’t change. Try to make a great site, try to make it the site that is so fantastic that you’ve sort of become known as an authority in your niche. And it doesn’t have to be a big niche. It doesn’t have to be, you know, a huge well-known keyword, it can be a smaller niche. And if you’re still the expert, that’s the sort of thing that people are going to want to link to that they’ll talk about, the sort of things that people would really enjoy. And those are the sort of sites, the experts that we want to bring back.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: