How does Google measure brand

by Jim October 24, 2017

Following on from our series on Google & Brands, this week I take a look at some changes Google made about 8 years ago as well as find a couple more examples of where the brand is smashing backlink pigs.

What I learned

  • Brand signals are trust signals
  • Simple marketing activities can affect brand search
  • Its easier to build brand than backlinks
  • Social media is a brand exercise
  • Semrush has a cool backlink gap analysis tool

SEO Resources in this show

The Google Vince update
Alex Allwood’s social media campaign 2010
Symbiotic Relationship between search & social

Video transcript

Hey, welcome back, Rankers! You having a good week? I was having a think on Friday. Every Friday we do a training session here with all the staff, and I take everyone off the floor, and we sit down, and we spend an hour over a beer doing some training and learning a few things. Last week it occurred to me, we were talking about brand again and brand search visibility and these sorts of things. I thought, “This rings a bell,” and then I remembered back in 2010 … Incidentally, this show has been going longer than YouTube, but we did do this show back in 2010, and I noticed a spike in a particular brand in their search volume.

People Trust Brands

A friend of ours, or, well, a colleague, friend, whatever, Alex, we’ve been colleagues for a long time and known each other for ages, forever. She runs The Holla Agency in Sydney, if you’re looking for a customer experience agency. She ran a competition for a brand on Facebook. What I’ve found is that, because of when she ran that, she got a spike in search for that brand and I thought, “Isn’t that interesting.” I used to call that the symbiotic relationship between search and social, but now I’ve realised it’s just really brand.
So you can be building your brand anywhere. There is just one instance of where someone is getting some brand awareness, and getting those signals into search as well, through a simple competition, and that was back in 2010. I looked back and I thought, “Yeah, there was a brand change back then,” and I went back and found this post on Search Engine Land, and it was called the Vince Update, and Matt Cutts is there talking about the Vince Update. Basically, it was a trust update and a lot of people considered that it was a brand update, but Matt Cutts came out and said, “Well, actually no, it’s more of a trust update.” Maybe because people trust brands, a lot of the webmasters at the time were seeing brands jump to the top.
Prior to that, it used to be really easy to jump above a brand in SE0, in ranking. What I think that change was, and Google has said as much, is rewarding single-word searches with brand association, so Canon cameras, and those sorts of things. Or mortgage brokers or Aussie home loans, whatever those things might be. Things that people have considered to be brand, Google’s going to give them a little bit of extra trust in the ranking signal, right?

How Google Knows You’re a Brand

So, if you’re a brand, how does Google establish that you’re a brand? Do they have a database of brands? I don’t know. Is there structured data for brands? Probably, yes, I’m sure there is. We use it all the time. How does it work out that something is a brand or not? Is it backlinks? I don’t think so. Is it maybe volume of that brand’s search? I certainly think that would be an indicator. Certainly I think that would be a very strong indicator. If we go and have a look at, say, well, let’s go and have a look at it. This is a search for mortgage brokers in Google Trends and we can see here, this is just for Australia the last 12 months, and we’ve got Aussie mortgage broker down here.
Now, that’s a branded search. Australians don’t look for Aussie mortgage brokers. We just don’t. We look for mortgage brokers, but that is someone specifically looking for an Aussie Home Loans mortgage broker, so that’s what’s going on there. Then we need to have a look at the next one. We can see it’s Mortgage Choice, right? And Mortgage Choice is also a brand. Why don’t I have a look at the next one? I think that’s it, actually. Yeah, that is it.
So we’ve got two brands in the top 15 for the phrase “mortgage broker,” and then when we go and have a look at the backlinks with these, incidentally, this is a great e-tool from SEMrush, what I’m looking at here is the gap analysis between two domains. They’ve changed their domain tool and it’s now called Domain Analytics, which is really handy. You get to see these backlinks that are being acquired over time, and you can see here that Mortgage Choice has got shed loans. Shed loans. More backlinks than Aussie, right?
Aussie, you can see there, Aussie has got, what, 11,000? Mortgage Choice have got 100,000. It’s not backlinks, right? Even if you went and measured all these backlinks and you analysed their anchor text and the page rank that they were getting and the page rank of that one, when what you could be doing is just building your brand. It’s quite simple. Yeah, look, I’ve got some mates that do backlinking, and they probably do great backlinking. I don’t know how they do it.
We’re still seeing a lot of backlinking in the clients that we get. I saw it from one the other day, and I’m thinking, “This stuff’s still working,” where it’s just junky, horrible, badly-written blog posts and they’re getting a backlink and it’s all for a scummy site. That still goes on. I think maybe it works initially and then it drops off as Google gets better at calculating that, but why are you bothering with that stuff when you could be doing something that is within your control as a business-owner, as a brand manager? It’s just building that brand, and not only should you be building your brand generally, you should be building it for your categories.
Canon cameras, right? If we go and have a look at Canon cameras and Nikon cameras, Canon gets twice the volume that Nikon does. All of these things are going to add to your traffic and your search ranking, but long term, what are you going to go with? Are you going to go with building something that’s kind of counterintuitive to what you should be doing for your business? Or are you going to focus on your technical SEO, which is essentially great user experience? When I’m talking technical SEO, I’m talking no broken links, nice fast site, clearly labelled information, easy to find, a great user interface, all of those things are actually technical SEO as well.
You do those things, you do your brand things, and you’ll be right. Now, we will see you, hopefully, at Pubcon. If you’re coming, come say hello. If not, the next event after that I’ll be at is a Melbourne SEO meet-up in December, but if you’re going to be at Pubcon, come say hello. If you’re still looking for a discount, hit us up. I’ve still got a coupon code. I can give you some of that. Get a bit of money in your skyrocket and please subscribe to the YouTube channel and we will see you next week. Thanks very much, everyone. ‘Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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