Respected search engine expert Aaron Wall recently pointed out a major change in the Google search algorithms in January 2009. Google appears to be giving added weight to companies with strong brands.
Big brands – household names – are now ranking on the first page of the search results for major keywords. In a post about Google’s preference for brands he gives example after example of the change.
As always, I look at such developments and say, “What does this mean for small businesses?”
Well, one obvious conclusion is that small businesses and small websites will have less chance of competing with large companies on highly competitive keywords. There are only 10 spots on the standard first page Google results. So it’s already been pretty tough for small businesses to compete on major keywords (such as “auto insurance”). Yes, this means small businesses will be at a greater disadvantage compared to behemoth corporations. But, hey, what else is new?
On the other hand, I’m not sure it will make much difference, except to the handful of sites kicked off the first page in the most recent Google update. That handful is smarting. But as for every other small business, they weren’t on the first page anyway. The vast majority never had a realistic shot at getting on Google’s first page.
No, I think the more important lesson for small businesses is that it pays to build up your brand.
Google is signaling that it is rewarding real businesses, not just fly-by-night websites created without valuable content, no real people behind them, and not even a logo or a company name or contact information on the site. In other words, the more impactful your brand, the higher your business may appear in the search results.
It’s all about differentiating your business, developing a good reputation with the public for your company, having a recognizable logo, evoking an emotional response by customers for your business and your products/services, getting PR for your business, and all the other aspects that go into making a brand remarkable and memorable and valuable.
All of this will be easier to accomplish if you have the help of a good marketer.