Brands Don’t Rank Because Of Backlinks

by Jim December 5, 2017

I’ve read a couple of recent posts that claim brands rank well because they have “bigger” SEO teams or attract lots of backlinks. Of course there is zero data accompanying these claims.

I hosted an SEO shindig in Melbourne on Monday night for a sizeable group of fellow SEO and digital marketing associates. I once again put forth my theories on placing brand before Google and tried to dispel some of the industry myths that many ‘experts’ desperately cling to.

What I learned

  • How to set up your business so Google chases you
  • Why brand popularity equates to direct traffic
  • Brand building should be a primary focus of your business
  • Why brand encompasses the three pillars
  • How you can build your brand on a budget

SEO Resources

Moz on Brand Strongly disagree. Says the reason brand rank is because of backlinks…. bitch please! No.1 result in AU for “Home Loans” has 5 times less links than its rivals. We see this ALL THE TIME.

Twitter chat on Brand Strongly disagree with these opinions devoid of any real data.

Hey, welcome back Rankers! It’s December. It’s nearly Christmas time. Not hot here anymore. It got cold. Oh well, that’s okay, it’s Melbourne. Hey!
Tonight, one night only at the Honey Bar. I’m recording this right now. It’s 8:30 in the morning. We’re at the Honey Bar at; I don’t know, sometime tomorrow, 6:30 or something. I’ll be there earlier. Anyway, come and have a drink. I’ll buy you a drink. Hit me up for a drink. There’s 88 people here going, that I know of anyway, and probably a couple of more. We’re going to be talking about brand and how it affects SEO and why you should be building a brand and forgetting about Google.

Let Google Chase You

See, if you go down this path of focusing on your brand and having good technical SEO, good user experience, all those sorts of stuff, good SEO, you’re going to be able to forget about Google because Google is going to have to chase you because you’re going to have so much social proof around your brand that Google is going to have to rank you.
So, for instance, if everybody is looking for your brand and blue widgets. So let’s just say ‘Jim’s Blue Widgets’. Well, if the majority of search is for Jim’s Blue Widgets when it comes to blue widgets, chances are the people are saying, “Hey, we like Jim’s Blue Widgets,” and believe me, they really do.
I want to show you a couple of things that’s happened. We’re talking about brand tonight and there’s been a bit of chatter now around brand. A couple of weeks ago we talked about the SEMrush report that came out and said that basically direct traffic was the biggest ranking factor that they could find, and had a lot of controversy about causation versus correlation. I don’t care because it’s there. The number is there. Who cares if it’s correlation or causation.

There seems to be people getting hung up on this and there are the algorithm chasers out there who are looking for, “Look at that thing over there. That’s a ranking factor.” They look for the clues or the hints that Google might be doing something, like a backlink. “Oh, that’s a ranking factor, therefore the more …” They treat it sort of like a mathematical equation. We don’t do that because it will send you mad. Quite frankly, I’ve tried it and I stopped doing that a long, long time ago.

But, a couple of things that have come out and I just wanted to clarify this a little bit more. We’ve had a couple of SEO’ers over the weekend say I think brand is … You can look that one up. Brand is the most important thing you can be working on in business. Yes, it is. The reason is it affects every other part of your business. Google should be looked at now as something that happens after you’ve built your brand.

Oh, by the way, new backdrop! Whadya think? Hey, I don’t know what to put on it. This is basically a screen. I don’t know what to put on it. If you’ve got any suggestions, just let me know. Email them to [email protected], that’s [email protected] Suggestions for the background. I don’t care if they’re rude. I may not put them up, but please, if they’re funny, send them in. We might have a prize for the most creative or funniest, or one we might even use.

Brand is the Three Pillars

Anyway, then back in 2015, we had Moz come out and say, “Brand isn’t a ranking factor in the traditional sense. There is likely no algorithmic input that measures brand strength.” Who cares? Mainly because, as we’ve said previously, if you’re following, say, expertise, authority, and trust, EAT, the three pillars for the rater’s guidelines, if you like. Brand pretty much covers all of those things.
Then we had some chat on Twitter a little while back. This was the SEMrush chat on the 16th of November. This one was talking about brand. I just needed to correct a few of these misconceptions. I understand why people are saying this, but, “Google doesn’t artificially … One thing about brands, Google doesn’t …” This is Jim, by the way.
Google doesn’t artificially rank them higher simply because they are brands, but brands tend to have larger SEO teams, larger content, and no, no, no. That’s not why they rank. I’m sorry. I’ve seen it up close. People have this idea of let’s define brands.
Brand is a promise. Now, that promise doesn’t have to necessarily mean you’re an international brand. It doesn’t have to necessarily mean that you’re Samsung. It could mean that you’re Skinnymixers and you operate a blog about recipes. You still have a brand. People know you for what you do. People know you for your quality, for your delivery, for the books that you write. You have a brand, right?
Now, Nikki at didn’t spend millions of dollars on creating her brand. She just did hard work from home and built up communities on Facebook. That’s brand. That’s real brand. No big marketing budgets, no large SEO teams, although there’s me. There is that.
But, really, this isn’t the case. Joe said, and these are all people I respect, but I just happen to disagree with them. Joe said, “Also, brands tend to attract more links.” We got links again, links, links, links, Google might…, yeah, sentiment, analysis, entity. All of this sort of stuff is really good, but let’s think about it.
If you’ve got the strongest brand in your category and Google does not send you traffic for that category, well Google’s not a very good tool because everyone’s looking for you. Now, that category can just be Thermomix mixed curried sausages. It gets down to that level. That’s what I’m talking about with brand.
Hopefully, that’s helpful. Come and see me tonight at the Honey Bar. I will buy you a drink. We’ll have some fun, have some discussions, talk more about this and we’ll see you next week. Thanks very much, everyone. Bye.

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