Below is live coverage of the Does Google Favor Brands? An In-Depth Look panel from the SMX West 2012 conference. This coverage is provided by Avi Wilensky of Promedia Corp & Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick.
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Stay tuned! Live updates will begin momentarily.
1:32:34 PM Barry Schwartz: Starting in a couple minutes...
1:35:20 PM Avi Wilensky: Danny recommends looking at Aarons Infographic - http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/infographics/brand-branding-brands.php
1:35:58 PM Barry Schwartz: Aaron Wall from SEO Book is up first
1:36:29 PM Avi Wilensky: (Fingers prepare for hyperspeed mode)
1:37:24 PM Avi Wilensky: Classic relevancy signals - domain name, anchor text, link diversity, keyword co-citation
1:37:33 PM Barry Schwartz: (I'll let Avi do most of the typing while I snap pics)
1:37:59 PM Barry Schwartz: Perception
1:38:12 PM Avi Wilensky: Recommend reading Stundubl's blog - wrote great post about big and small guys in Google's eyes
1:38:41 PM Avi Wilensky: http://www.stuntdubl.com/2008/02/08/brand-size/
1:38:52 PM Barry Schwartz: Vince update http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/019559.html
1:39:48 PM Avi Wilensky: Knowing that Vince uses search query streams to influence rankings - Google choses to put big brands in the results
1:39:52 PM Barry Schwartz: See the store links there?
1:40:28 PM Avi Wilensky: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/07/business/07flowers.html?_r=1
1:40:50 PM Barry Schwartz: Aaron's point is that when large companies do something, Google treats it differently from small sites.
1:41:07 PM Avi Wilensky: Google says that they can detect the spam links and ignore it; smaller sites can get a notice in GWT to clean it up
1:41:21 PM Barry Schwartz: Visa Print's Singapore web site was cloaking
1:41:56 PM Avi Wilensky: Doorway pages - Ikea example after Panda, Huffpo too did fine, smaller sites got hit for same tactics
1:42:32 PM Barry Schwartz: eHow was hit in the second Panda update but they still pay eHow to push up videos to YouTube (even if the videos aren't that great)
1:42:54 PM Barry Schwartz: Mahalo wasn't hit originally either he said
1:45:14 PM Avi Wilensky: The major issue with this is that new businesses need time and processes to create a brand
1:45:22 PM Barry Schwartz: The issue with this, very few businesses start with large brand factor.. They raise funds, build exposure, monetize attention, reinvest in increased quality
1:46:03 PM Avi Wilensky: Some sites like teachstreet had to shut down as a result
1:46:40 PM Barry Schwartz: Chrome got hit so they only penalized one page, but smaller sites get a sitewide penalty
1:46:44 PM Avi Wilensky: Penalties - if Google gets a penalty like with Chrome, was a small penalty
1:47:47 PM Avi Wilensky: Why does Google favor brands? Legal risks, minimize duplication, better UX, etc.
1:48:23 PM Avi Wilensky: The big issue is a lack of diversity in the results.
1:48:47 PM Avi Wilensky: Brands don't necessarily have a better UX.
1:49:42 PM Avi Wilensky: Google as a Contest Host - videos, books, flight search, software, stores, etc.
1:49:48 PM Barry Schwartz: The "branding stuff wont last for ever"
1:50:20 PM Avi Wilensky: Follow Aaron on Twitter @seobook
1:50:40 PM Barry Schwartz: Bryson is up now
1:50:58 PM Avi Wilensky: Will show examples of small brands ranking to disprove the brand bias
1:51:02 PM Barry Schwartz: He is going to show how smaller brands do rank and opposes the opinion of a brand bias in Google
1:52:46 PM Avi Wilensky: Arguments against the brand bias: Results are atypical. Shows example of "music downloads", Apple is being beat by EZMusicdownload.com
1:53:00 PM Avi Wilensky: CreditCards.com is beating VIsa and MC which are huge brands for that term.
1:53:23 PM Avi Wilensky: "New York Hotels" - newyorkhotels.com outranks the big brands. There are many queries which disprove the theory.
1:54:19 PM Avi Wilensky: Look at it from a traffic perspective vs. ranking. Better measure. Look at SEMRush - Wikipedia = #1. SEMRush gives CC.com a 499 and visa/mc a much higher score. So CC.com is getting more traffic.
1:54:48 PM Barry Schwartz: 54% of the results from 2010 that Aaron provided are no longer ranking
1:55:29 PM Avi Wilensky: Looked at top 100 SEMRush and segmented by category - fortune 500, small biz, etc.
1:55:52 PM Avi Wilensky: 27% are small businesses, 4% < 10 employees. Only 9 are top 100 global brands. 30% don't even buy adwords.
1:57:09 PM Avi Wilensky: Shows example of analytics of 4000% increase in organic SEO for an unknown brand. They would say no brand bias if asked them.
1:57:54 PM Avi Wilensky: Enterprise SEOs have unique challenges - legal - conflicting departments - politics, etc. Small brands don't have these barriers.
1:59:09 PM Barry Schwartz: Google is just trying to give people what they want and when people search for things, they often want related brands
1:59:29 PM Avi Wilensky: Agrees with A-Wall that suggesting brand related searches are a result of Google wanting to give relevance. It's that we are looking for them that they appear. Quotes taken out of context.
1:59:58 PM Avi Wilensky: More about the algo than favoritism. Quality and authority over brand.
2:00:52 PM Barry Schwartz: Wikipedia is run by Wikimedia, which is technically a small company.
2:01:30 PM Avi Wilensky: Wikipedia gets 3X more traffic according to SEMRush than FB. Wikimedia is the owner and they are a small business ($24m in revenue, which is quite small relative to fortune 500's).
2:01:41 PM Barry Schwartz: Bryson said, there is no brand bias
2:01:57 PM Avi Wilensky: On the whole, small businesses are succeeding in search but need to move quickly because that's their advantage.
2:02:21 PM Avi Wilensky: Credits Aaron for building SEObook brand, talks about exact match domains.
2:03:08 PM Avi Wilensky: Big brands get beat all the time, but need to make it a priority, etc.
2:04:05 PM Avi Wilensky: Byron says to kill your SEO Gurus ;-) Give Google a break as they fuel this ecosystem and give us all work.
2:04:45 PM Avi Wilensky: Follow Bryson Meunier @brysonmeunier
2:05:20 PM Barry Schwartz: Next up is Mark Munroe
2:05:45 PM Avi Wilensky: Agrees with both Aaron and Bryson and explains why.
2:06:10 PM Barry Schwartz: Google doesnt hard code specific URLs like amazon.com to rank higher
2:06:18 PM Avi Wilensky: or any specific brand
2:06:56 PM Barry Schwartz: But Google does test their new algos and if they see a big brand drop out of the SERPs, they will make sure those brands don't.
2:06:59 PM Avi Wilensky: Says Google will be careful about hurting big brands because want them in results.
2:08:03 PM Avi Wilensky: Brands nowadays have SEO firms, link building agencies, etc. Smarter about SEO.
2:08:58 PM Avi Wilensky: What is the brand advantage? Brands get links!. Brands have big marketing budgets / awareness. All reinforce brand behavior.
2:09:39 PM Avi Wilensky: What does Google want? To show results user want to see. Users want results they can trust. Users interact with brands in a manner that send pos signals to Google that increase rankings and immunize against filters like Panda.
2:10:34 PM Avi Wilensky: Google tests their products and check the CTR of results. Users know and trust big brands like Amazon, etc. If they don't know who you are, you don't have the same CTR advantage - clear signal to Google.
2:11:27 PM Avi Wilensky: Google sees less bounce rate on brands, likely repeats, trust, knowledge and don't have to prove themselves. New sites have to prove themselves with things like good design and speed.
2:13:08 PM Avi Wilensky: Niche brand vs. Non-Brand: Example of 2 sites using the same forum CMS. Site A = non brand - 4 mil monthly uniques. Site B = niche brand - 2 mil monthly uniques. Same experience, but site B had more repeat visitors. Site A had higher bounce rate.
2:13:25 PM Barry Schwartz: Non branded sites need to work harder...
2:13:55 PM Avi Wilensky: How to offset brand advantage? Have to be better, work harder, obsessive about providing a quality search experience. Every SERP is a promise to answer a question - brands usually have higher success since users know them.
2:15:45 PM Avi Wilensky: Good title and meta description promises a solution. Focus on tags and titles to get the right traffic. Need traffic can deliver on.
2:16:06 PM Barry Schwartz: The search experience starts on your SEO page
2:16:33 PM Avi Wilensky: Beware of ads above the fold, good nav, build trust, make it look like a brand.
2:16:57 PM Barry Schwartz: Site architecture is key - amazon does a good job with this
2:17:53 PM Barry Schwartz: Last up is Tony Wright from WrightIMC
2:18:03 PM Avi Wilensky: And you can follow @markmunroe
2:19:04 PM Avi Wilensky: Brand awareness vs. Brand. Every company has a brand. We are talking about Brand Awareness.
2:19:41 PM Barry Schwartz: Google may or may not favor brands intentionally... What matters to me is does the searcher favor my brand.
2:19:54 PM Barry Schwartz: Brand awareness does not algorithmically favor brands, but it should.
2:19:59 PM Avi Wilensky: Why do consumers love brands so much? We look for familiarity.
2:20:00 PM Barry Schwartz: Consumers love brands.
2:20:13 PM Barry Schwartz: An average consumer mentions a brand 90 times per week
2:20:43 PM Avi Wilensky: Creates external signals that Google wants.
2:20:59 PM Barry Schwartz: Companies with brand awareness usually think differently than those without
2:21:21 PM Avi Wilensky: Big brands generally have problematic on site SEO. But the link profile is killer.
2:22:21 PM Avi Wilensky: Took 2 years for him to get meta tags on a big brands and finally when it happened, didn't matter any more.
2:22:34 PM Barry Schwartz: Most of the time, big brand decision makers do not own that brand, they just work for the brand.
2:23:01 PM Avi Wilensky: Big brands generally won't suffer much from bad SEO compared to small businesses.
2:24:30 PM Avi Wilensky: Big brands are benefitting from their offline marketing whether they know it or not.
2:25:06 PM Barry Schwartz: Adding in content marketing into this can be a true win for the brands.
2:25:45 PM Avi Wilensky: Radio, TV, Print, Display - adding in content marketing can be a windfall. Point these campaigns to specific content that users wanted, promoted in offline channels, and creating the content in a way people can link to. Synergy.
2:26:19 PM Barry Schwartz: You need a landing page for each marketing campaign
2:26:47 PM Avi Wilensky: Big brands have PR departments. PR people didn't understand SEO but started to get it.
2:27:37 PM Avi Wilensky: Target influencers, get links from them - they can make or break rankings for single terms.
2:28:28 PM Barry Schwartz: Don't be the "logo police", understand the difference between protecting your brand vs alienating your online audience.
2:29:24 PM Barry Schwartz: Q&A time for the next 15 minutes... then in 45 minutes after (an hour from now):
2:29:24 PM Barry Schwartz: Q&A time for the next 15 minutes... then in 45 minutes after (an hour from now):
Donâ€™t Panic! A Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide To Surviving SEO Changes by Barry Schwartz and Keri Morgret
Doing Check-ins & Offers Right by Avi Wilensky
2:31:16 PM Barry Schwartz: Danny is trying to egg on the panelists to fight
2:36:26 PM Barry Schwartz: They are still arguing btw.
2:40:34 PM Avi Wilensky: Jonah Stein loves to get in the conversation here...
2:45:22 PM Barry Schwartz: See you in about 45 mins.