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Aaron Wall had a really interesting post about how it seems as if Google has started shifting its algorithm to favor big brands in search results. That started quite a Twitter storm today between @mattcutts and @stuntdubl, in particular. I found the discussion good but hard to follow on Twitter. So I thought I’d start a thread to see if things could be fleshed out more.
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from dannysullivan 1973 Days ago #
Votes: 9

Further to my summary, Aaron’s story was hot on Sphinn here:http://sphinn.com/story/102949And you can read his post here:http://www.seobook.com/google-brandingIt relies strongly on looking at the rise in of some brands at tracked in search results via RankPulse. You can play for yourself with RankPulse here:http://rankpulse.com/Some of it is really compelling. For example, American Airlines seems to come out of nowhere and start ranking for “airline tickets.” The same is true for Delta, Northwest and Continental.So over on Twitter, stuntdubl made a couple of references like:it’s the equivalent of a google bailout to the big brandshttp://twitter.com/stuntdubl/statuses/1256639736big banks suck at money management - let’s give them more money.  big brands sucks at seo - let’s give them higher search engine rankingshttp://twitter.com/stuntdubl/statuses/1256637266Looking at it, Aaron may very well have identified a trend – though I think it’s likely just a continuation of a trend that he was one of the first people to talk about years ago, that of authority domains. There are plenty of people that believe that having an authority domain means you can rank for virtually anything in your topic area because Google trusts you more than other sites. It’s not a new concept – many have felt this has been in operation for years. I’ve seen it first hand having left behind an authority domain of 10 years to start up a new site with Search Engine Land. For my part, I firmly believe that’s part of the Google algorithm.There are issues, of course. Should authority domains deserve an extra ranking boost? In many cases, sure, it can mean for better results. In some cases, no – especially if they start ranking for stuff they’re really not relevant for or if the things that made them once an authority disappear (my favorite example here was when Andy Beal left Search Engine Lowdown – he didn’t get to transfer the authority of the domain that was largely tied to him over to his new site of Marketing Pilgrim. Heck, I’d have loved to have taken the authority of my old site with me as well).If brands are starting to suddenly rank much better, to me it’s simply a continuation of what’s already been happening years ago. And so I guess that’s in part one of the reasons why my other reaction to some of the statements I’ve seen that it’s all over for the “little guy” is kind of a yawn. That’s because we’ve been here before.If you go back to Aaron’s post, he makes reference to the Google Florida update of 2003, which was traumatic for many sites. And in response, we had the same exact type of comments then (six years ago) that we’re hearing now. It’s all over for the little guy. And yet somehow, it still seems like many small site or non-big brands have been doing well in those years. Plenty of people still seem to get plenty of search engine traffic.First and foremost, I want to know if results are relevant. Yes, sometimes I think it is more relevant to show large brands for search results. Should a few major airlines show for “airline tickets?” Probably not. Why is American Airlines more relevant than an Expedia (which doesn’t rank) or some site that gives advice about airline tickets? American doesn’t serve all places, so that’s a pretty big reward for a generic term like that.Similarly, Michael Gray pointed out that searches for Las Vegas are bringing up several major Las Vegas hotels:http://www.rankpulse.com/las-vegas?p5=on&p7=on&p8=on&p9=onNot all of them, so why should some be so favored over others?But in a search for “boots,” which was one of Aaron’s examples? Guess I don’t know much about boots, but Uggs seems pretty popular. Maybe they should be there.More important, what went away? It’s really easy to say Google screwed up by elevating American or Uggs – but what we don’t know is what went missing. If it was some poor aggregator or some bad site that simply makes me click through a lot of junk just to get to American, well, I’m glad it’s gone. I want relevant results. But I can’t tell what was there, so it’s difficult to know if things got better or worse. It’s also hard to know if there were other major airlines that were there and now different ones have rotated in. RankPulse doesn’t deliver that type of picture.I’m also wary of just grabbing ranking results to demonstrate anything as an undisputed fact. That’s because it’s easy to turn it around. In a search on SEO, I see Aaron standing solid on that page despite the fact that there are large professional “SEO brands” out there, big companies that do it. I don’t see iProspect or iCrossings showing up, for example. And as an aside, I’m glad Aaron’s there – he should be, as he’s an excellent resource for SEO information.Well, Google’s smart enough not to mess with SEO, right? OK, how about shoes:http://www.rankpulse.com/shoes?p6=on&p8=on&p9=onConverse, Steve Madden and Vans all seem to have come from nowhere – and again, that’s really interesting and notable. I think Aaron very much may have spotted a trend going on. But they hardly dominate the page in this search, the brand makers.Cars?http://www.rankpulse.com/cars?p0=onOnly one site comes out of the blue, cars.com – and I can tell you for a fact that cars.com did not just suddenly get a top ranking at the end of February on Google. That’s because cars is a standard example query I’ve examined for years – cars.com is almost always present when I look. So something’s not right with that particular tracking. More important, where’s Ford? GM? Hyundai?Again, I do think Aaron’s spotted something. It may very well be something where Google’s hurting search results if they’re now rewarding authority brand sites (rather than just authority sites). In some other cases, they might be improving things. But death to the little SEO? Having seen that particular sky is falling message go out, I guess I’m not so pessimistic.I think it’s also important to remember that just as the organic results are changing, the universal results still pull in content from things like local search, video search and blog search. These remain big opportunities for little sites / little brands in case the results for “money” keywords are indeed changing.Anyway, the reason I jumped into the discussion on Twitter wasn’t to dispute what Aaron reported. I’ll say again for I guess the third time now, I think he’s spotted a real change. It was more that I think the discussion, if it’s going to poke at Google for doing something that seems “unfair,” is more productive if it doesn’t take a tack of “brands don’t serve ranks.” That’s not the point. Brands sometimes do deserve ranking, just as small brands or lesser-known brands do, as well. Those who think Google’s going down the wrong track should focus on relevancy. Why is it relevant for Vans (my favorite shoes, by the way) to suddenly show up for a search on shoes over some other shoe brand? Should any brands be showing up at all?But careful what you lobby for. If no big brands should be showing up, what’s left? Wikipedia and all its cousins? Only “big brand” shopping sites that carry all brands? Someone’s always going to be unhappy. What do people thing Google should be doing in light of this change?

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from vanessafox 1973 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I commented about this on Lisa’s post here:http://outspokenmedia.com/seo/is-google-using-brands/My general thought was similar to yours. That there could indeed have been algorithm changes (but there are always algorithm changes), and in this case, you can’t really isolate what signals might be being weighted differently. And to your point as well, you can find just as many queries that don’t have big brands ranking.Ultimately, it all comes down to relevance. Google is going to continually tweak its algorithms to try to return the most relevant results for users. And for lots of navigational-type queries (rental cars, airlines, etc.), brand sites are likely what searchers are looking for.From an SEO perspective, one might say, I optimized my site the best (have the most links, best title tags and so on), so I should rank more highly. But that’s not how search results work in the end. SEO is great and helps in a lot of ways, but if Google, through its research, determines that searchers looking for rental cars want major rental car sites and not affiliate comparison sites or discount rental booking sites, then its algorithms will work towards that aim.Search data such as keyword research takes on more importance if that’s the case, because non-brands can determine related things searchers are looking for that they can do well with that the brands are ignoring.

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from MattKeough 1973 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I know my comment is not profound, but here it goes. Yes, it is obvious that Google made a change and that they are being circumspect about it. No surprise.<div><div></div><div>However, I try to put myself in the Googlers mind. What can really be done to infer a searchers’ intent for a query like "shoes" or "cars" or "boots"?  For such terms there must be a strong temptation to say - "These are the big guys, let’s go with a known entity".</div><div> </div><div></div><div>Of course, that requires a leap of faith that what is good for GM is good for the searchers. This, of course, has plenty of room for disagreement.</div></div>

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from vanessafox 1973 Days ago #
Votes: -4

Lots can be done to infer searcher intent. Search engines have an amazing amount of data available to them. For instance (and this is a hokey, rudimentary example), if 1 million search for "cars" and the search results have three review sites listed (edmunds, etc.), then three car makers (Ford...), then four car enthusiast discusson forums below that, and 800k of the searchers click on the car maker results, then that’s a data point.

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from MattCutts 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 7

There were two completely separate conversations:<div><div>- Aaron’s brand post. I talked about this in a video today and we’ll try to get that up in a few days. The short answer is that we did change some of our algorithms for some queries, but this was just one of the hundreds of changes that we make each year, so I certainly wouldn’t call it an update. The change was discussed on WebmasterWorld for days before Aaron wrote about it, but really not that many people noticed it. That’s in line with the fact that scoring changes recently tend to be more subtle and more targeted to improve specific types of queries.</div><div></div><div></div><div>- The discussion on Twitter was where I referred to some people leaving hardcore porn links on primary school forums. This was the tweet that kicked off the discussion:</div><div></div><div></div><div>"What is "craphat" SEO? This is craphat SEO: [I linked to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4602405/Thousands-of-school-websites-have-become-infected-by-hardcore-porn.html ] Quite uncool to inject porn on school forums."</div><div></div><div></div><div>I called it "craphat" SEO after Danny used the term in his keynote at SMX West. Some people (*cough* Oilman *cough*) thought I was inventing that term myself instead of using Danny’s term. After that, it went into a discussion of whether spam is SEO and a bunch of other topics.</div><div></div><div></div><div>I think search engine marketing encompasses both paid search and SEO. SEO in turn is composed of both whitehat SEO and blackhat SEO. Then there’s a small subset of blackhat SEO, which consists of the real jerk SEOs who actually do illegal things (e.g. remotely hack sites to get links to increase their search rankings). Just to be clear, I think SEO is a fine, respectable industry and can benefit sites enormously. For example, here’s something I tweeted earlier this month:</div><div></div><div></div><div>"The high-order bit is that SEO can be a perfectly normal, legitimate practice. Are there bad apples? Sure, but not all SEO is snake oil."</div><div></div><div></div><div>But some folks thought that I considered all blackhat SEO illegal (I don’t), some implied that I thought "black hat SEOs = felons" (I don’t), some thought that I was bashing SEO (not my intent at all). Some people said that search engine optimization != spam in general, which is certainly true. But my point was only that some search engine optimizers do spam.</div><div></div><div></div><div>Some people seemed to suggest that inserting porn links on primary school forms was hacking and therefore not SEO. But if you go and read about exactly how people were inserting porn links, it didn’t involve hacking/cracking sites. From http://moodle.org/news/ they talk about this linkbuilding tactic in more detail:</div><div></div><div></div><div>"Profile spam is primarily a problem on sites with the combination of these two settings:</div><div></div><div></div><div>1. email authentication is enabled, allowing people to self-create an account on the site</div><div></div><div>2. the admin setting forceloginforprofiles is disabled, allowing anyone to see and link to user profiles</div><div></div><div></div><div>Some older versions of Moodle had these as default.</div><div></div><div></div><div>The problems with these settings is that spammers can create a page on the Moodle site which they can fill with links and pictures of porn and other nasty stuff. This in turn comes up in Google searches for those things, and is used to boost ratings to porn sites or hacking sites designed to take over your personal computer. Note that this content is designed for people using search engines..."</div><div></div><div></div><div>So it appears that people were finding old versions of Moodle with insecure settings, creating accounts for themselves, then adding porn links to boost the search rankings of external sites. Moodle specifically says people do it to boost their ratings and affect search engines. Whether it’s illegal or not (sorta doubt it in this case), trying to boost your site using these sorts of links is certainly a type of search engine optimization (SEO), since the people are trying to optimize their sites to rank higher.</div><div></div><div></div><div>In my opinion, the people that are creating such links to rank their sites higher are doing a type of search engine optimization and since it’s porn on school sites, it’s a pretty jerky thing to do. In my mind, this was an example of the "craphat SEO" that Danny defined at SMX West and that Danny asked the SEO industry to move away from.</div><div></div><div></div><div>One thing I learned today: Twitter is great at expressing a single sentiment or thought in 140 characters. It’s not the best place to have a free-ranging debate of ideas or definitions though. :) I’m off tomorrow, but I hope other posters will fill in their thoughts or point out other interesting aspects of this case.</div></div>

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from rhcerff 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Some great points here.  But Danny I would argue that some search terms would surely lean towards being commerce requests while others are purely info seeking.If I put in "airline tickets" chances are that I’m looking to purchase airline tickets.  On the flip side if I searched for "cheap airline tickets" then an info site might be a more valid as comparisons or even the "dangers of cheap tickets" might be a better result than simply buying tickets.*gasp*  Could Google finally be giving relevant results ;-)

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from demib 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 8

The biggest problem with the "big brand focus" I see - being a Danish/local search user, is that "big brands" always seems to be so US focused. I know you Americans are very proud of your big brands but honestly in many cases they are just not the most relevant big brands for us here in Denmark - and other places outside the US.One example is a search for "avis" (the Danish word for newspaper) - number one is the US rental car brand Avis (even having site links). Sorry, but thats NOT a newspaper! In fact hardly ANY of the large newspapers (most relevant results) are showing on on page one.

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from slingshotseo 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 5

I am a consultant to one of THE biggest, oldest, trusted "shoe" domain/company. We did not see a major jump for "shoes". Sure, they haven’t got their SEO perfected because they are a slow giant, but it’s not too bad right now. This was obviously not Google wide IMO. I have noticed a lot of mixed search results for some time. They are randomly served and I assume Google is testing just as vanessafox mentioned. If they have a data point or data points, they are certainly going to work with that. I for one hope that as Matt said, if there is something to what Aaron is talking about, this was done for very specific queries and not Google wide. I for one do not like domain dominance or age of domain ranking factors. It promotes domain squatting, lets useless sites dominate search and makes it extremely difficult for big or small companies to change branding. Companies get bought out, re-brand, etc. just as Danny has mentioned. Things change. Redirects don’t work like clockwork. It sure is dreamy to think if you perfectly redirect your old domain and your 5000+ pages everything will transfer nicely, but that isn’t always an option and it rarely seems to work without a hitch.

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from jonnyscottie 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

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</style> <![endif]--> I’m in with what Vanessa said! I am disappointed if people see this as a negative shift, and especially if they make comments that lead people to believe that Google is bailing out the brands on the SERPs,  or indeed if they make opinions (not those here) that are a little sensational and/or knee jerk. I hope that people would give a balanced opinion, but a killer closing sentence in a post or a tweet is better with a little spice I guess. Yes, Google wants to satisfy as many users as possible and achieve results for different user types sharing the same KW. Back in 2007, having access to analytics for hundreds of competitive UK brands and little known domains, many ranking side by side for uber-generic KWs, allowed analysis which showed that the real clickthroughs vs expected clickthroughs for any given position to be noticeably higher for the brands. Obviously. Clearly a large proportion of users searching generic terms want to click through to known brand sites, and indeed some went on to purchase while clearly others were on a larger journey that involved many searches on Goole on their way to conversion.  The need for a blend of different domain results in a space where the majority don’t go to page 2 doesn’t need to be spoken about further here, let’s hope that we always have a balance of small medium and large websites on the front page for a whole host of reasons. And let’s be glad that Google’s directive remains to represent and satisfy the combined desires of all the people browsing there.   Indeed Google has always in my mind had an approach of suck and see, pushing changes, and then in turn webmasters would notice it, and jump on it saying it was x y and z. We can’t be sure here. Of course, if Google is going to roll out a better model using ‘surfer data’, then we would will see it first and most noticeably on generic terms where the largest volumes are. Good stuff all around I say. Ultimately, like the high street where some people like to shop at big brand stores on price, others like to shop at local smaller vendors on spirit, other people like a choice on common sense.   If this new landscape gives faster lower effort results too many users, it’s a good thing. Google are happy if they help a large proportion of the wide spectrum of users. I’d hope as SEOs and marketers, you know it’s a good thing if this change is as it seems, tied to metrics that move away from a playing field, where smaller players and affiliates overly saturated through spam and paid for links. I would hope that some of the seasoned SEOs sharp enough to spot this would recognise and embrace this, at least to some extent in their posts, or successive 160 char expletives (!)

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from stevejohnston 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Hang on, I’m a consultant to one of THE biggest, oldest, trusted "shoe" domains/companies. We didn’t see any sort of jump for "shoes" since the first of January either. Hopefully we are not talking about the same big trusted shoe company, which makes our clients two examples that buck the trend. We did, however get a peak in traffic around the mid-January point - which coincides with Aaron’s graphs from RankPulse - for a week, which was for the client’s name that happens to include the word ’shoes’. But this peak has dropped off again to its previous levels, so may not be relevant. Generally I endorse Danny’s caution and Vanessa’s data point, er point. I think we underestimate the importance of Google’s usage data and how it allows it to influence the performance of sites. If people vote with their feet to visit the brands, and Google sees this, then it is appropriate, in general, that they perform better. Of course, as SEOs, when dealing with sites that aren’t brands, we’ve benefitted from the slow adoption of SEO by the brands, because it means we have been able to outperform them. For those of us who tend to work more for the ’brands’ - like slingshot and me - then, hey, maybe our job just got a little bit easier.

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from fabioricotta 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think more and more Google is changing his algorithm to semantic trends. This is what I can think now.

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from trooperbill 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Based on what im seeing from metrics and activities on webmaster tools, im noticing that nofollow links are starting to pass some relevancy (webmaster tools shows loads of nofollow links in my link back profile). i propose that it is this reemergence of comment links and other nofollow links being reinstated to revelant that have pulled some but not all of these brands into the forefront.It also explains the lack of consistency in the suggested boosted brands.

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from MelissaF 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -3

I guess I don’t look at this from what is fair and what isn’t fair perspective. As SEO’s and Internet Marketers part of the learning is doing and watching the results. Determining what is working and what isn’t. Who says Google shouldn’t be entitled to do the same thing. We keep changing what we do to keep up with whatever changes there are on the Web. Yes, Google is responsible for a good portion of the changes we make, but I can see that they aren’t randomly making changes for no reason and I just don’t believe that they are trying to crush the little guy. In my opinion Google pretty much runs the world. They have a massive responsibility to keep examining what is going to work best for their users and although I know they want to make money, as we all do, I do feel that they know that businesses can live or die by Google. Maybe I am wrong, but I feel like they want businesses to do well on their search engine. It is up to the site owner/business to meet the guidelines and work hard to do well. We can’t blame Google for everything; I think we can imagine how difficult it must be to have a massive search engine that produces quality results while also being fair to the small guy, the big guy and everyone in between. I wouldn’t want that job.

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from vonstern 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes, I have noticed that the last few months.  Every keyword I look into it seems like Google is just ranking on domain name age (which big brands have advantage on usually) and # of links (which big brands have advantage on usually) with a throw in for exact phrase match domain names.  The SEO tools I have, such as SEO toolbar and Jan Leger’s WebComp Analyst, let me see what is going on easily.

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from bobtripp 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The problem is search results are indeed polluted and Google had to do this sooner rather than later. There are so many affiliate sites that are exploiting the SERP’s and outranking established businesses and big brands. Nothing wrong with that but think of it from a user experience. The best experience is to have a combination of affiliate sites and big brand sites on a single search result page as that way searchers would have more options. "Health Insurance" is another great keyword where established affiliates and providers are on the same page. This is definitely good user experience. I have been monitoring this changes from almost a month now and Google has been implementing this change very cautiously. Finally, full implementation in all datacenters took place sometime last week. I believe this is a good change as it gives searchers with a better search experience. The big newspapers have been arguing their case with Google for some time now for ranking qualitatively and not quantitatively. Google implemented few changes on Google news couple of weeks back. Again, sad update for many but if we think holistically then this is a change for the better. Create great businesses on the web and your customers (and Google) will reward you. Thanks!!

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from sza 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I thought, what the heck, a comment with 49 votes. But then I saw the guy even has a comment with 1336 votes, so I guess this one here is a quite moderately popular comment of his (perhaps because it has nothing to do with the topic of this discussion...)

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from fantomaster 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@borsodas: You are requesting feedback from the good hardworking people here to support your thesis which equates SEO with Spam? < rubs eyes>@mattcutts: While your comments on the brand preference topic (i.e. what Danny wrote about in the first place) are appreciated, it baffles me what those other issues pertaining to your persistently equating black hats with felons (and the reactions on Twitter to your most recent ploy to drive home that point once again) have to do with it. Obviously, you’re entitled to you own view of matters just like anybody else (even though you know full well, of course, that your statements as an official Google representative are endowed with a whole lot more clout than anybody else’s in this industry...), but within the context of this particular post of Danny’s I feel it’s a bit of a thread hijack what you’re attempting here.Be that as it may, I’m delighted to learn that you are publicly acknowledging in as many words that you are no longer pushing the blanket "black hats = felons" propaganda stance so many SEOs (including lots of "white hats", btw) have found so offensive and insulting.May I politely suggest you expound your position in a more appropriate environment e.g. in a separate post on your blog dedicated to that topic, rather than sneak it in here? Just a thought...

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from graywolf 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 6

@mattcutts what google considers a datapush, fix, anomoly normalization or any other a dozen internal terms we don’t know the rest of the world considers an update.I know you want to use the internal terminology since in your world this probably isn’t an update, but it’s just not that granular out in the trenches.

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from BrysonMeunier 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -2

I don’t agree with Aaron’s post at all, but I commend him for starting an interesting discussion. I don’t think there’s a big brand shift in the sense that Google did something overnight to help brands rank. I think that logic might have worked when SEO book was first "published", but we all know what Matt Cutts, Vanessa Fox and others have said, that algorithm changes happen all the time.To me he hasn’t proven that this shift has actually happened on a large scale, as there are many queries that show otherwise. And even if it has happened I see it less as an algorithm change and more of a change in the SEO industry.  If something is happening, I think we need to look less at the engines and more at the SEOs. I am not surprised at all that big brands are starting to rank on competitive terms because big brands have SEOs who are good at what they do. As a result, it’s not as easy for the little guy to rank as it was back when all they had to do was buy an SEO book to get to the top of the listings. Because people are looking at the engines for an explanation, they’re missing what could be legitimate causes. For instance, I haven’t seen anyone mention rel=canonical as a possible catalyst for this change. Big brands in my experience are notorious for having legacy content management systems that fragment their substantial link popularity, and zero IT bandwidth to implement redirects to fix it. Two weeks and a day ago at SMX West, Matt Cutts introduced the rel=canonical tag as a solution to this primarily big brand problem. And two weeks later we’re talking about a rankings shift that favors big brands. To me, Aaron Wall is looking too much at the Eric Schmidt brand statement as a way to connect the dots, and not enough at coincidences like this one. This, of course, assumes that there was a large scale shift toward brands, which I don’t think is supported by the evidence. If anyone’s interested in more, I’ve detailed the argument here.

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from seobook 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 11

Hi Bryson1.) If you "commend me" then why does your post title contain the word "lie" in it? Nice try, but you can’t call someone a liar and then commend them for what you call lying. 2.) The changes I referenced occured over a month ago...well ahead of rel=canonical coming out 3.) The changes showed hundreds of sites all popping out of nowhere on the exact same day. Hundreds of corporations do not change SEO strategies on the exact same day and have it reflected in the search results at the same time. The only thing that does that is an algorithm change. 4.) If you can look at the graphs I showed and not see a trend then you simply put have no position labeling yourself as a professional SEO.

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from shoemoney 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

seobook > *

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from Skitzzo 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Bryson,While Aaron pretty much covers it in his comment, I have to ask... did you even bother to read Matt Cutts’ comments in this thread?- Aaron’s brand post. I talked about this in a video today and we’ll try to get that up in a few days. The short answer is that we did change some of our algorithms for some queries,So you still want to stick with your comments in light of this "new" (read as: something you should have read before commenting) evidence?

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from zerotype 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I agree something changed.  But how do you explain sites like this (www.historiasdecorredor.com) showing up on the 1st page for "auto insurance".Not sure we can call it an algo change.  Almost like they were hand picked.

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from ZakNicola 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 2

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hitwise_search_queries_are_getting_longer.phpSo Google *may* be helping trusted big brand sites rank for core phrases. People don’t seach that way, and we all know this. Cars, boots, and Las Vegas are all research queries. Do you know anyone that has made a purchase off a single phrase SERP page?Worry about what converts.

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from BrysonMeunier 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -5

1) I commend you for starting an interesting discussion, Mr. Wall, not for having your facts straight.<div>2) In that case it could be a result of a change in the industry. Big brands have been doing SEO for a while, and smaller changes happen all the time. What you’re witnessing is more likely a result of increasing big brand involvement in natural search.</div><div>3) You showed seven SERPs. I can show you hundreds more that don’t fit your argument. And I’m not arguing that there wasn’t an algorithm change. As Matt Cutts said, there was. But it wasn’t large scale.<div>4) You showed seven graphs, some of which had conflicting infomation. No, I don’t see a trend because you haven’t made a compelling case. And ad hominem charges don’t make a false argument true. They just make the person making the charges look small.</div><div>That being said, I don’t need your aging reputation to justify myself as a professional SEO. I simply need to outrank you, which according to you, I am. Thanks for the publicity. Go update your book.</div></div>

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from ddalasta 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 4

The canonical tag was introduced two weeks ago - no way that’s it. Look again at Aaron’s charts and many other queries in rankpulse. It’s the fact that the same day there are so many sites that came from nowhere on competitive kws that is pointing out this *trend*. Sure, others may have dropped out, but something definitely happened that day & that’s actually not being denied. It’s up to us to figure out what those sites have in common in this update/filter/algo (semantics) change...and what is action-able on our side.Because Google has moved from big infrequent updates to smaller continuous updates, it’s harder for us to see the directions they are taking with each change. Many algo changes probably go completely unnoticed by the SEO community. The ones that DO get noticed are worth checking out and talking about because they are signals of trends. We need to understand those trends.Aaron is (very effectively) demonstrating the trend towards favoring brands in serps. This is an observation supported by outstanding evidence. Graywolf is starting the discussion saying what makes a brand? Others are saying step back, that’s just a symptom not the cause. I think both should be examimed.I think of Google like having a baby. If you live with the baby and see it every day, you don’t notice the changes so much...but when the grandparents come visit they can’t believe how much he’s changed.So...is it authoritative links? Is it usage data? Is it some external data that is giving certain brands a premium (TM, public co., navigational queries)? I think that’s where the discussion should be going. I love seeing evidence both ways, keep them coming

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from BrysonMeunier 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -4

@Skitzzo, yes I did. Did you? Because you missed this part: "but this was just one of the hundreds of changes that we make each year, so I certainly wouldn’t call it an update."

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from ddalasta 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"I can show you hundreds more that don’t fit your argument."then do it! I really do want to see them, make it productive not argumentative

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from brian 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I recall that Matt was asked via Twitter to talk with Graywolf on Sphinn instead of on Twitter, so I see Matt as disambiguating those two simultaneous conversations.That said, I find an industrial-strength cloaker’s objection to thread hijacking to be highly amusing.

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from JackTripper 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It doesn’t suprise me that Google is slanting the playing field in the favor of big brands.  It’s been my experience that they’ll make some serious adjustments to the rankings when their premiere advertisers are affected (and by "serious adjustments", I’m not talking about algorithms). 

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from cassiano 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -1

This is one of the major discussion on the web over the years!It’s very good to see different view points.  I think everyone is learning a lot of here!lol

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from fantomaster 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@brian Wouldn’t know what thread hijacking has to do with industrial-strength cloaking? I mean, have you ever witnessed me doing that? If so: links, please (and yes: can be nofollowed if you should suffer from "ethical" qualms otherwise).So either back up your insinuations or do the decent thing and apologize, will you?Having participated in the Twitter exchange in question, the part Danny addressed was definitely the issue of brand preference - he even tweeted about having written this piece himself after no one had taken him up on it.In any case there’s nothing about the "black hat = felons" stuff in this article of his: thus, addressing it in the comments section in such an unsolicited manner is just that - a blatant hijack attempt.And to the credit of almost everyone participating in this thread: an obviously unsuccessful one, too.

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from robertgarcia 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Adding my thoughts here would only duplicate the sentiments expresssed by so many.  but fuckit, here we go.@Matt - interesting concepts you’re expressing on link building.  I thought some of these practices weren’t effective in the past, and now,...not so much?  But further I would resubmit what @graywolf expressed, these updates are not that granular to site owners who might have just lost some SERP’s that they have been working on for years because they where offering more robust or better content than the actual brands do.  @BrysonMeunier - though you are being eloquent, you forgot to mention that you did not check out the facts before you posted.  Reading is funda-mental.@seobook - Got your back bro, though I’m sure you don’t need it. @Vanessa - Your point on Google Datasets has been something I’ve been considering in my own...methods and philosophy for awhile.  Glad you expanded on it.@trooperbill - actually, WebmasterTools have shown nofollow links for years, and the links shown are just a small set of links, definetely a starting point for figuring out your link profile, just not the end all be all.  Personally, I havn’t seen any indication that nofollow adds link value, but don’t take my word for it, I might have had an important chemical in my brain just go all toxic and make me start talking caca booty.  Now, it might be that Google might be doing a bit more discovery with them, that might be something to reflect upon.@borsodas - I guess I’m going to be one of the "<b>good hardworking people</b>" that you need a comment from.  <b>Dood, I have no freaking idea what you’re talking about</b>.  Just a little <b>seochampion</b> moment for you I’m guessing.   If Matt is making millions off the seo industry, I want to know where to sign up to give him a check, cause I could use some SERP tweaking.  :P  Although I think I understand your opinion, which is saying something about my thinking machine today, you’re coming from a point of view of "traffic" and not "succesful website"  You see, without good content, design, magic bunny poop,  traffic means nothing. But that’s a post for another day.   Keep reading bro.@bobtripp - I understand your point of view, but in some cases, the affiliate marketer is a better user experience than the actual brand.  I try to keep away from tracking changes across "all datacenters" cause just when you think you’ve got a handle on all the datacenters out there, Google either drops one, or adds another, or is just trying something really nutty on another ’cause somebody is just messin around. @evilgreenmonkey & @dannysullivan - these comment boxes suck.  too small, and itty bitty 8 point Arial is too hard to read.  But I’m blind as a bat and not allowed to use the microwave since the "tuna can" incident, so don’t pay attention to me.  L8R 

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from brian 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@fantomaster You sell a cloaking product, so pardon me for assuming you’d use your own product. I apologize.

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from BrysonMeunier 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -2

@ddalasta, I mentioned a few on the post I referenced, and Danny Sullivan mentioned a few in his initial summary. Together I think that’s about as many as Aaron Wall mentioned in his original observation. I think the burden of proof is on the theorist, and to me he didn’t prove his theory even in the examples he mentioned. For example, as I mentioned on the blog post, ehealthinsurance.com is still beating Aetna in the search results for "health insurance", even though Aetna is a much bigger brand. But I think all of this is really beside the point. The point I was trying to make is that Google changes the algorithm all the time, and that these changes that we’re seeing are probably also a result of big brands optimizing their sites, and not a large-scale update. Long-term white hat SEO pays off for brands big and small, and that’s what we’re seeing on our end. Not favoritism to big brands or small. I know this is an unpopular statement, but that doesn’t make it wrong. To me, Mr. Wall failed to make a compelling argument that this is happening across the board, and he didn’t recognize that optimization by large brands is clearly a factor in more brands ranking in the SERPs. I’m just amazed that so many people are committing the logical fallacy of argument from authority and accepting his argument because of who he is, and not what he says. I don’t subscribe to his blog and I’ve never read his book, but I understand his position in the industry and respect what he’s done. I just don’t think he’s made a compelling argument and I wanted to stand up and say it since no one else was. If you believe that Google is playing favorites in spite of the outliers that exist, you’re allowed to take that position.  But I’m surprised that so many in the industry are following suit, since to my mind there’s really not a lot of evidence to support it.

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from JoshuaSciarrino 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -1

It. happened. nothing none of us can do anything about.<div></div><div></div><div>But. I’d say it’s bad. Because it doesn’t let democracy of the internet reign. Google is slowly becoming evil. Paid links. Direct editorial changes. Now putting brands ahead of others. It’s simply not fair. This brand change is not fair for the little guy with little brand recognition. Especially online brands. So, I think it’s bad for us little guys and only online businesses.</div><div></div><div></div><div>But. Looking at Google’s perspective. I can see why they decided to do this. I’m sure Google is testing these brand changes (As Vanessa said). And they are probably seeing it as a benefit to the user. If not, I’m sure we will see a revert (if it’s not good for the user, then it’s probably not good for Google) to before the brand changes.</div><div></div><div></div><div>So, what does the brand changes mean to SEO’s? Stop thinking just SEO. Drive people to your website through getting them to GOOGLE your name, your company name, your company url, your company blog. Etc. By not hot-linking. Instead of Sphinn you should say Sphinn.com is great.</div><div></div><div></div><div>Now this it is a long-term strategy. Focus on multiple ways to BUILD your brand online. Innovate SEO’s. Your job just got a little more difficult. I think over time, our job will be more and more difficult as Google continues it’s dominance.</div><div></div><div></div><div>As and I said a while back, one day (in the future), it (SEO) won’t be a job [see Lesson 3] Think back like 60 years, everyone used to be a farmer. Now everyone is a webmaster. It will only take time that our job as SEO’s will be replaced (not absolutely but on a large scale). SEO’s aren’t above technology. I think some forecasters say in 2030 they will have a computer more powerful than our brain. So, in time (10-20 years) these SEO’s discussions will soon disappear. </div><div></div><div></div><div>But for now, innovate your brand. Get on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Promote social media content. Get an affiliate program. Etc. Etc.</div><div></div><div></div>

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from evilgreenmonkey 1972 Days ago #
Votes: -1

@JoshuaSciarrino: "one day (in the future), it (SEO) won’t be a job [see Lesson 3] Think back like 60 years, everyone used to be a farmer. Now everyone is a webmaster. It will only take time that our job as SEO’s will be replaced (not absolutely but on a large scale)." It would be nice, but unlikely. One of the big FTSE100s that we work with, uses a massive US agency for its CMS (a company that also has an SEO service). Our client spends 8 figures a year (GBP) just to maintain the site. At the beginning, the site was as bad as it gets, and we spent a lot of time trying to help them fix the CMS. The moral of the story is - when multi-billion pound agencies with their own gigantic SEO team can’t get SEO right and need us to teach them, how is every webmaster in the world going to do so.

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from dannysullivan 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@fantomaster, I agree, there were two separate issues that got mixed in the Twitter stream yesterday: the brand change and the issue over craphats/seo/felons/etc etc.I didn’t take Matt’s response as trying to hijack this thread but rather trying to clarify both things that got heated in Twitter. Ideally, I should have just started two separate disucssions, because they are two separate ones. Maybe on Monday, I’ll go back and bring up the craphat stuff (which was my term, and which I specifically said in my keynote at SMX West wasn’t meant to say that white hat isn’t craphat or black hat is craphat but simply there are a lot of marketing tactics out there that simply crap on the web, like off-topic comment spam, that I’ve simply seen enough of).That probably deserves greater discussion, and maybe I’ll see if I can clone or copy some of Matt’s comments into that plus bring my own as well. In the meantime. Crappy MP3 Sites, Comment Spamming & Enough Already kind of covered a lot of this in the past.As for the branding, whether we call it an update or not, we’ve got Matt confirming that there was an algorithm change that seems to be responsible for this. As has been said, lots of things change all the time (and some of them don’t stick).

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from Jonah 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 4

The push or update seems pretty granular...Google is rewarding specific brands as relevent for specific keywords.  My guess is that they tuned up the importance of the manual review and the human recommendations about "must include" by keyword.  Human ranking factors make the pattern matching discussions pretty much beside the point.    When the signal is a thumbs up and the update is essentially a hand job, it is absurd to try to dispute the evidence with pattern match.  It would be pretty easy to analyze for someone with Hitwise access (Bill Tancer, where are you).  Look at the brands Aaron identifies as getting a January 18th bump and then the keywords driving traffic to them.  We should see a nice traffic spike but it will be confined to a fairly narrow keyword set.  If the update was broadly based, influencing the general trust of these brands instead of giving them a specific keyword boost, the increase in traffic will be broad based.The RankPulse data is very compelling.  Compelling enough that Matt confirmed it, which is unusual in itself.  Aaron’s point is that Eric Schmidt is telegraphing these moves in public and we need to pay attention to what Google is doing.  If Google has proven anything over time, it is that they move in slow, steady step...boiling the water slowly so the frogs don’t notice.Finally, BrysonMeunier, saying Aaron has an "aging reputation" is a sheer sign of... well, insert your own choice of terms for low intelligence because I am at a loss to find anything strong enoug.  Take a poll of everyone on Sphinn about which SEO taught them the most or is the smartest, or understands the algo the best.  Phrase it however you want, thrown whatever 9 names you want against Aaron and he is still going to rank in the top 2 or 3.    I am not sure who else belongs on that list.  Boser, Naylor, Spencer, Fishkin, Friesen, take your pick.  Most of them don’t write much, but they are the best known names in the industry.  In fact, put the list together and I will run the poll.Aaron has at least one post a month that is better than anything else written about SEO or search marketing and he only hints at everything he understands about Google.  The only one who comes close to coherent, thought provoking articles about search is Danny Sullivan and Danny has deliberately not given SEO advice in 11 years. 

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from Semreportcard 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 6

These changes occured the week of February 16th as referenced by my article which actually identifies the transition using screenshots.  It came on our radar while creating reports for clients and really takes the issue of dynamic locator pages off the table for geo-targeted searches.

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from aimClear 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Today I was on the phone with a client who, despite investing quite a lot in another compay (not aimClear) performing SEO, COULD not rank for their brand name. It seems a long standing non-profit has the same name. The client is a large brand.  I told him about the ongoing dialog regarding brand searches and, with personalized search disabled, he searched for the brand while I was on the phone. In his browser the brand term ranked #1 for the first time EVER. It sort of drove the point home that big brands ARE getting a different bump in Google. He was stunned. He thought I was smart. It’s Aaron that’s smart. Thanks for the research.

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from JoshuaSciarrino 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@evilgreenmonkeyThe moral of the story is - when multi-billion pound agencies with their own gigantic SEO team can’t get SEO right and need us to teach them, how is every webmaster in the world going to do so.Moral of the story is... computers are going to replace our minor SEO efforts. If you really want to get into this type of discussion more, I’d really suggest you read the YOU moz post I linked to. 

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from ddalasta 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 1

here are some more interesting ones:clothescamerasshoppingand even "shoes" despite what others have said in this thread. Late Jan. saw the addition of 4 new sites in top 10 on the same day. They are: aldo, dsw, converse, stevenmadden, and vans. there is a theme here, and you don’t have to look all that hard.Regarding the "health insurance" example. Take another look at that - ehealthinsurance is a brand. They are also a large publicly traded company. Aetna is now #2, they were nowhere before late Jan. I think that’s a good example of the algo change rather than counter-exampleI personally like the "clothes" one. wetseal? really? what are the signals there? they are a public co.

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from jmaulson 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ddalasta lol "clothes""Finallt the SERPs I can pay for"

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from aimClear 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 2

...and then there’s the biggest question of all: What signals exactly does Google look at to determine what is a "brand." Seems to me SEOs are now, at least somewhat, in the business of making sure all their clients evolve to be bigger "brands" in Google’s eyes. Could Google be looking at [gasp] PPC spend on the brand name as a signal? If I owned Google (yeah right) I’d certainly look to paid search on trademark protected brand names as a signal. Google knows who butter Google’s bread.

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from JoshuaSciarrino 1972 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@aimclearWhat signals exactly does Google look at to determine what is a "brand."Good question. My opinion is there are many factors. Let’s see if I can bring up a few (feel free to add some): (First, let’s assume www.brand.com)-# of brand mentions on the web (link, url, hyperlink and not)-dedicated pages mentioning brand-search volume for brand-search volume for brand.com-maybe (MAYBE!!!) using google analytics data of ’direct traffic’-using Google Chrome’s data on direct entriesI doubt Google is smart enough to use the CEO’s name and any other employees of the company as a factor (no matter how big or small of a factor).Any other factors? :)

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from fantomaster 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 4

@dannysullivan: Thanks for chiming in again. And yes, I’m obviously with you on the issue of addressing craphat (nice term, btw!)/black hat/criminalization propaganda in a separate post/thread: IMV, your definition of "craphat" as "off-topic comment spam" fits the lion share of Matt’s comment here to the dot, which is rather ironic. But ok, I won’t stress the point anymore, looking forward to your next article on this topic instead.@brian: In case you didn’t know (well, pretty that’s pretty obvious, really...) cloaking is about delivering specific content to specific visitors, typically - at least in its industrial-strength version - as determined by IP.It’s entirely unrelated to blog or forum comments (whether spammy or not), let alone thread hijacking. There’s plenty of very powerful tools around offering exactly that functionality, but ours isn’t one of them, sorry.So before setting out on another merry mud slinging spree, may I recommend you do your homework, sir?

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from Misscj 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I checked the things that were said by Aaron in his post and also by Eric Schmidt.  I tried and tested the examples that were given as evidence of this branding push by Google that I found in various posts.  I researched some research papers on brand affinity, got a psychologists expert view on it, and also looked at all the posts I could find on this (if you read enough of them it’s like chinese whispers! Aaron’s "IF" Google roll out... became "Google has rolled out").  <div></div><div>I am with Matt, as I suspected I would be, and all those who are perplexed as to what the big change is.  Show me some solid evidence or a Google statement confirming it, and then I will believe you.</div><div></div><div>What Eric Schmidt said is not groundbreaking, it’s an interesting thing to bring attention to in your speech when you go to recieve an honorary Doctorate at a University.  He was NOT doing a workshop for SEO’s as far as I know.</div><div></div><div>I see no big brands all over the rankings.</div><div></div><div>If you want to read my research on this, it’s here:</div><div></div><div>http://www.scienceforseo.com/seo-marketing/google-brand-algo-theory-dissected/</div><div></div>

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from sza 1971 Days ago #
Votes: -3

@Misscj, your research seems just some incoherent pseudo-science with Names, Papers and Quotes thrown in for making an impression.There is not a single piece of thought or real argument in it refuting Aaron Wall’s observations.Calling this "algo theory dissected" is a bit pompous.

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from Misscj 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@sza I’m not refuting his observations.  I’m adding some of my own content to the work done by Aaron.  I never say that he’s wrong or that the whole thing is untrue.  I apologise for the "pompous" title, it’s pretty common on academic papers so that was not intended obviously.  I’m not arguing which is why there’s no argument. I don’t feel I need to make an impression, all my posts are along these lines you know. It’s not pseudo-science when it comes out of Stanford in my book, but you are entitled to your own opinion and I respect that.  Even if you don’t respect my work :)

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from o3man 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 2

This is because their algo will often place spammy MFA sites on top. Fix your algo Google. Stop trying to blame paid links, or bloggers that get paid to do reviews.

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from cosmiccarl 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Y? Yes, why does Google always have to be on the side of the rich and powerful? It is not enough that they claim to have a level playing field and this! Please, think of all the people who work hard to create the web. GOOGLE, u r EVIL!

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from theGypsy 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 1

sza.... CJ has more knowledge and insight into potential ranking mechanisms than 2/3’rds of the people in this post combined. Live with it, she could make your head spin and obviously did. Should you have taken the time to follow the train of thought and the papers mentioned, U’d have kept yer trap shut.Anyone that believes there is a ’brand algo’ is doing nothing more than making SEOs as a whole look ignorant. That is not to say that various existing methods have ’turned the dials’ that ends up with the (appearance) of the same... just there’s no specific adaptation.You could tweak areas such as trust factors that might do so, or they could tweat relevance / concept theme ones as well. Point being, it is silly to look at it in such a specific light. Here’s the problem;A. SEOs tend to think marketing, so they trust nothing and love a good story.B. Too many have a basic lack of understanding how search engines actually work and come up with baseless theories based on ignorance and supositions.Understanding that someone has the cold doesn’t make you a doctor nor does it mean U have the skill set to cure it or even understand it. Ok, Google changed...so what? They claim to have more than 400+ algo updates per year. Congrats SEO world... yer geniuses? If I am Google, I’m laughing at the SEOs running in circles ranting instead of sorting out what is REALLY going on. The boys in the AIR dept (U know, Matt and co?) are loving it... keep moving the target and watch the SERP manipulators spend their time whining while they continue to move where U can’t see them.I’ve said it begore, I’ll say it again.... it’s SEARCH ENGINE optimization... if you don’t understand searah engines; then what is it you’re doing? There are not so ’fantastical’ reasons for what we’re seeing... This isn’t rocket science, it’s ’computer science’ my friends...

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from jmaulson 1971 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@theGypsy Your ad personam argumentation is getting tiring. Also, and this is honest advice, you should try to see search as interaction between engines and users, not as IR algorithms plowing through documents. It’ll help your business enourmously. 

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from sza 1970 Days ago #
Votes: 4

@misscj,You are directly refuting Wall’s observations inasmuch as you run a couple of queries yourself (see middle section of your post) and say you don’t see any major change in the SERPs. You are indirectly refuting him when you are questioning the context he places his observations in.It would all be fine. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see where you are coming from and where you are heading towards with all this. That’s why I find your piece incoherent.Wall and others see something happening, with a major Google representative confirming it (and trivalizing it in the same breath, as should be expected...).What’s really behind this possible SERP shift is obviously a topic to debate, but I don’t see the relevance of and added value in:- quoting an internet psychologist who says stuff that you consider "very sensible", but which is actually quite illogical;- linking to a couple of articles without even trying to sum up their content in a couple of sentences;- tossing in papers about "allocation of supermarket shelf place" or "price competition" without elaborating on them in any way; or- providing a definition for the word "authority"It does not make a case for or against, it does not synthesize already known facts and knowledge into some new insight - it just lists (or alludes to) them in quite a random fashion. No train of thought here to follow. It’s not research, it’s a hodgepodge.But SEO is a field with, I’m afraid, not many scientific minds running around and I have a feeling that loads of SEO people who avoided all kinds of science in school will find pearls like "(Jansen, Zhang, Zhang - 2007)" or "There is a vast body of work on this" sounding irresistibly scientific and thus very professional. That’s what I meant by "making an impression".I think science should be about independent thinking, and when you write things like "Show me ... a Google statement confirming it, and then I will believe you" or "I want to see outsiders with expertise tell me about it" it’s quite clear that you simply turn to those you consider authorities to tell you what you should think, and that’s not very "independent".Anyway, if you only believe theories about Google only if Google confirms them, you’re going to miss a lot of important pieces of the puzzle. Rigorous science does not necessarily work well in a field where you have multi-billion dollar interests clashing and truths deliberately concealed.I’m sure Aaron Wall’s kind of insight into the dynamics of the search market will always teach us more about what Google does today (and why) than the titles of a couple of scientific papers.@theGypsy,Yer positioning yourself as a scientific SEO because U probably saw a niche there to profitably inhabit. No problem with that, it may be a good marketing move on your side.But I must tell you, "CJ has more knowledge and insight into ..." is not an argument. It’s just a case of falling back on authority, which is one of the most pathetic ways of trying to gain an upper hand in any debate, scientific or not.

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from Ruud 1970 Days ago #
Votes: 5

<div><div>1) <b>Yes, something changed...</b> </div><div></div><div></div><div>Let’s not waste time on whether or note something changed in the SERP for a number of queries.</div><div></div><div></div><div>For one, we can see it. The samples Aaron provides are anecdotally convincing but if you check others you’ll see that his examples are not anecdotal, they’re samples of pool of queries where substantial change took place. Some of that is ongoing too.</div><div></div><div></div><div>Second, Matt Cutts confirms that something changed and although he limits the size and impact it had he himself notes that the change was clear enough to be picked up and discussed (my emphasis below):</div><div></div><div></div><div>"The short answer is that <b>we did change some of our algorithms</b> for some queries [...] </div><div></div><div></div><div><b>The change was discussed on WebmasterWorld for days</b> before Aaron wrote about it, but really not that many people noticed it. That’s in line with the fact that scoring changes recently tend to be more subtle and more targeted to improve specific types of queries."</div><div></div><div></div><div>2) <b>...but not for everyone/everywhere...</b></div><div></div><div></div><div>As was the case with the sandbox "I Don’t See It Myself" is a valid discussion partner raising a valid doubt; "are you <i>sure</i>?"</div><div></div><div></div><div>Yes we are sure something changed. See #1</div><div></div><div></div><div>Then why don’t I see it?</div><div></div><div></div><div>Public knowledge, your own SERP monitoring <i>and</i> Matt’s statement answer that question (my emphasis below):</div><div></div><div></div><div>"[...] we did change some of our algorithms <b>for some queries</b> [...]</div><div></div><div></div><div>[...] scoring changes recently tend to be more subtle and more <b>targeted to improve specific types of queries.</b>"</div><div></div><div></div><div>The way Google works now means that Flordia basically won’t happen again: just a whole bunch of mini-Florida’s.</div><div></div><div></div><div>3) <b>Brand is the common denominator in the effect</b></div><div></div><div></div><div>If you go beyond good writing and marketing, nobody is saying that brand is a ranking factor by itself.</div><div></div><div></div><div>What is being said is that whatever one of those subtle, targeted improvements was on Google’s side, the <b>common</b> description for the newly appearing sites is that they’re <b>brands</b> or <b>brand related</b>. They’re not newspapers or other media sites. They’re not blogs. They’re not MFA’s or other spammy stuff. They’re big name consumer brands.</div><div></div><div></div><div>The effect of the change is that virtually all of the favored sites are brands.</div><div></div><div></div><div>4) <b>speculation you can investigate</b></div><div></div><div></div><div>Working back from what we see (#3) we can start our investigation, following different trains of thought.</div><div></div><div></div><div>For example, it’s probably not just anchor text. Many of these sites will be linked with their brand name. That can mean that Google maps these words the same way it can map and understand the common "apple" example (Beatles, New York, brand, fruit). By analyzing documents/queries they "figure out" that Timberland == boots.</div><div></div><div></div><div>Or: we know Google loves the text around a link. Many of these brand sites will have their brand name linked but the product or service close to it. "Timberland - Boot Brand Belief".</div><div></div><div></div><div>But don’t forget that no matter how we analyze these domains to see which combination of age, links & link types convey this amount of trust, the answer may not lie there but in Google’s understanding of what goes on on the web.</div><div></div><div></div><div>August last year Hitwise UK published a report, "Managing Your Brand Online", showing that branded navigational search is on the rise (my emphasis below):</div><div></div><div></div><div>"[...] an average website in the UK relies onsearch engines for two of every five visits it receives. Analysis of the top 2,000UK search terms shows that <b>88% of those searches were for distinct brands</b> in 2008, up from 68% in 2005.</div><div></div><div></div><div>It’s a very interesting report with insightful takeaways such as the online/offline branding connection and the shift and consequent impact to and from social networks. (Off topic: navigational queries are often re-queries -- imagine fixing requery behavior for certain searches by including those brands most often searched for in subsequent repaired, navigational, queries...)</div><div></div><div></div><div><b>Conclusion</b></div><div></div><div></div><div>Florida was superclear. The sandbox wasn’t: a lot of community time was wasted by "yes!" "no!" exchanges and a <i>lot</i> of semantics ("It’s a filter with a dampening effect, not a sandbox", etc. etc.). It’s encouraging to see that the community seems to have learned from that and that this thread consists for the most part of constructive contributions.</div><div></div><div></div><div>Coolness :-)</div></div>

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from joehall 1970 Days ago #
Votes: -2

@sza - try learning a bit about the people you argue with online. Otherwise you risk emabarassing your self. Although that probably isn’t the concern of someone that has a completely anomous profile. The truth is that, when some one starts talking about algorythmic changes @theGypsy & @misscj are some of the true experts in the field. Scientific SEO to them isn’t a marketing catch phrase its something they have spend years of devotion to. Something that they will still be doing long after you have adopted the next trendy marketing catch phrase.

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from WebmasterT 1970 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Aaron is right in there is a change... but... the tinfoil hat he keeps on his desk has a purpose. Aaron always seems to be of the opinion Google is out to get us small guys and SEOs that are fightin’ the good fight and winning. So he sees a few more brands and... a conspiracy theory is put forward which makes for good discussion but... whenever you look to proove a theory using SERPs and you ignore the anomalys.... you get only half the story. SEO has become so complicated since Universal Search that... to pinpoint something and say this is causing that is near impossible to do accurately. IMO, something has been changed that affects "brand" sites more than others and it weight in the algo varies from querry to querry. More and more the changes to the algo aren’t as exploitable as in the past so even when we see the change there is not a lot you can do to manipulate it.

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from theGypsy 1970 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@jmaulson - Im sorry... who are U again? I put my thoughts and theories out there for all to see... and if you’d care to do so... great. If not? Then keep it to yerself and just skip by anything I say. No need to be a cheeky fecker hiding in the shadows, ok? Put up or shut up... you want to face off on search... U know where to find me - you want to get personal, go for it. CJ was called pompus and I know her not to be... now you want to take a swing at me? Great... just be sure to put out your body of work ok? Then I can judge if you’re getting ’tiring’ ok? If not? no whining from the cheap seats please...And since yer fond of giving out advice, here’s some honest advice; if you’re going to optimize for search engines, you may want to learn how they work - just sayin’@sza - classic mate...  "I’m sure Aaron Wall’s kind of insight into the dynamics of the search market will always teach us more about what Google does today (and why) than the titles of a couple of scientific papers."Im sorry... I didn’t know Aaron actually explained the WHY? He was documenting what he noticed and offered some elements such as implicit user feedback as potential reasons (which is unlikely). There is no valid HOW they are doing it, never mind WHY. Sigh... I don’t dispute the IF .... it is more the types of assertions towards HOW and WHY that are unfortunately getting muddied. Much like Ruud, we would be better served pooling collective data and actually trying to work out the HOW... based on solid priciples.’A couple of scientific papers’ mean jack and a blog post does?  Man, you really said a mouthful with that one... it really needs nothing further...Well... that’s it for me on this thread... I leave it to the ill tempered stone throwers to keep pedding the SEO FUD and ignorance. Aaron, nice find - Ruud nice try (lol... no one cares) and Ralph... are U a user? or just a dealer? he he... peace - outties

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from Misscj 1970 Days ago #
Votes: -1

@sza....chill out mate, you sound like you need a little lie down.

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from sza 1969 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@joehall, I don’t think I should do a background check on people before I dare to criticize a particular post of theirs, because the amount of previous great achievements and accumulated prestige is irrelevant to what I think of that particular piece.I have no personal issues with misscj, I simply have my opinion about a poorly written post called "research".@theGipsy,Chill out mate. I wasn’t calling misscj pompous, just the title she decided to give to that post. I wasn’t saying Aaron Wall explains the "why" of this particular phenomenon, but the "dynamics of the search market". It was not "a couple of scientific papers" but "the titles of a couple of scientific papers". You haven’t noticed these subtle differences?Oh, and getting the label "ill tempered" from someone whose tone within Sphinn is of a permanent offendedness ... that’s quite rich.

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from stumpedia 1969 Days ago #
Votes: 2

<font face="Times New Roman"><font size="3">"Google is abusing its monopoly position by overcharging corporations for access to consumers. These charges are passed along to consumers and ultimately result in consumer harm."  In defense of this statement, Google’s big brand shift is necessary to avoid antitrust litigation.</font></font>

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from Jill 1969 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Okay guys, while this is a great discussion with lots being said on all fronts, let’s put the personal attacks to bed, please. While I love reading flames as much as the next guy, I’m saying this in my professional capacity as a Sphinn mod. i.e., it’s against the sphinn guidelines.Don’t make me (or any other mod) come after you...Now please carry on in discussing the issues at hand, not the people. kthxbye

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from tykeblog 1969 Days ago #
Votes: 2

BAD BAD BADGoogle is really killing the buzz.I feel for the days when you used to type a phrase into Google and not know what you were going to get. The web was an adventure then..’Trustworthyness’. - I’d rather have the best results for the phrase if it’s all the same. I take personal resposibility for that.

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from johnandrews 1969 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Very interesting how this thread hijacked the original, added a skew to the perspective, grew to 140+ Sphinns, and the conversation above. Social media marketers can make a case study of it. I’d like to add one note for @misscj, who I now know is a Ph.D. student on language processing, and a professional SEO. You should be familiar with peer review, and hopefully hypersensitive to the importance of validation and peer review when expressing opinions as a scientist. I hope you continue on your path, and find a way to accommodate peer criticims of your opinions, because if you continue to put your opinions out under a claim of scientific authority, you’ll need those skills. It comes with the territory, as @sza aptly notes. I’m all for more science in search, but I hope scientists will be held to a MUCH HIGHER standard than everyone else, given the granted authority.At the end of all of this commentary, I still see Aaron’s post standing tall as a unique and valuable contribution to the search space, and I don’t see any credible counter arguments to discredit  his notes/observations. By the way, there was a discussion in the private SEO forum of SEOBook on around January 20 on the observed changes in the Google SERPs, the noted increase in brand appearances, and discussion of how it might have evolved. Aaron put out an interesting article last week describing his observations in public, but SEOs have been discussing this privately at SEOBook.com since a few days after Google made the change. Keep in mind the power of controlling the media message... things are not always as they appear on sites like Sphinn and corporate/personal blogs.

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from Misscj 1969 Days ago #
Votes: -1

@Johnandrews,<div></div><div>I am more than used to peer review and welcome it, it opens up a discussion.  I have never criticised or put down Aaron’s work or anyone else’s and thought that my post might be misread as many are, so I actually put a disclaimer at the top of the post if you hadn’t noticed.  </div><div>I write about the science and how it comes to play by reviewing papers and such things all the time on my blog.  This was NO special occassion for me to "throw in" some science to make an impression, as those who read regularly are well aware of.  </div><div></div><div>The funny thing is that I never "claimed" anything in my post.  I said "I don’t know".  So I fished around for information to try and understand.  I still don’t really know what’s going on, same as all of you.  </div><div>I have absolutely no idea why you think my post was not of a high enough standard, I was certainly not going to write an entire thesis on the thing, it was an investigation and a blog post!  The papers by the way are just named because I’m not going to write a 10 page post discussing them as well, if you want to read them do so.  There are no links to them because you have to be a member of IEEE/ACM to get access to them.  If you want to read them, pay up!  </div><div>Never on this thread or in my post have I rejected criticism, or on my blog, or science work as a PhD, I don’t know where you got that from.  Obviously I will address unfair and incorrect criticism, which luckily I very rarely have to deal with!  </div><div>I will add that it’s very patronising of you to tell me what research skills I lack. I have enough advisors, mentors and peers in my area of scientific research to make sure I have developed all the very important skills that come with being a researcher. Seeing as they are very experienced researchers of science, I trust they would say if I was lacking. It would never occur to me to tell you what you lack as a professional in your area as a result of scan reading one of your posts, because that’s not my place, I don’t know you and I’m too polite:) </div><div>Oh and @sza, researching other authorities IS scientific research.  Independant thinking is "speculation".  The search for "evidence" is also part of the scientific method. I didn’t provide a definition for "authority", WordNet did.  </div><div>Like Jill said drop it, just don’t read my work both as a blogger or a scientist if you find it offending and of a "lowly standard". When you want to flame @Gypsy do so when you have an educated opinion about his work and what he’s trying to say.  If you don’t understand it, ask, he’s more than happy to help you along that trail.How could I be taking myself so seriously when I use a comic book cover as the image and tell you about a cool one called The Authority that should read.  Lighten up.</div>

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from johnandrews 1968 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@missc, here is the sum total of what I said above:You should be familiar with peer review, and hopefully hypersensitive to the importance of validation and peer review when expressing opinions as a scientist. I hope you continue on your path, and find a way to accommodate peer criticims of your opinions, because if you continue to put your opinions out under a claim of scientific authority, you’ll need those skills. It comes with the territory...That’s it. I never said your "post was not of a high enough standard". I never said you "rejected criticism". As for you’re saying "I will add that it’s very patronising of you to tell me what research skills I lack" I have no idea where that comes from... the above is all I said. Where did I tell you what skills you lack?More Sphinn drama as soon as something is questioned... even when it’s not really even questioned! Let’s get beyond that....

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from MattCutts 1968 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@fantomaster, apologies if I didn’t explain it well in my first comment. Danny started a Sphinn thread about Aaron Wall’s post and brands. But in the description, he mentioned the Twitter conversation I had with stuntdubl. That Twitter conversation was regarding the "craphat SEO" tweet that I did. Since Danny glommed the two topics into one thread, I tried to address both topics and mention that the Twitter conversation was entirely separate from Aaron’s post. Does that make more sense? I would have preferred that Danny made two Sphinn threads (one for Aaron’s post, another for the Twitter conversation that stuntdubl and others had with me). But since Danny put them in one Sphinn discussion thread, I replied on both topics. Does that make more sense?

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1968 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I did need to start two different threads. Honestly, I was just tired at the end of the night so only got to the first one. I’ll still come back and start the second one shortly.

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from dannysullivan 1967 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’ve started that new thread now, What’s A Craphat & Why You Shouldn’t Be One.

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from fantomaster 1966 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@MattCutts: Fair enough, thanks for responding.

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from kevinphanley 1966 Days ago #
Votes: 0

http://sphinn.com/story/104144@mattcutts could money have anything to do with the Change/Update/Modification/Sneeze?

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