So it appears as if Google has tweaked their algorithm in February to lean towards big brands for organic ranking against some competitive keywords.
This story can be traced back to 8th of October where Eric Schmidt suggested brands were the answer to the internet which was becoming a cesspool of bad information
Google were effectively stating they were tired of people who were using SEO tactics to rank their affiliate sites above those branded sites in the same market space. They have fought tiresomely against these sites but to no great avail. People can always adapt to changes in technology, this has been proven throughout the history of man. Over at SEO book Aaron Wall wrote a great post on the changes he witnessed over February highlighting this shift in the Google algorithm. It appears Google are now rolling out some tweak to their algorithm which favors large branded sites. The interesting part of this change is how does Google identify a site as a reputable brand. Could it be factors such as:
– User behavior
– Social buzz
– Mentions in Google News
– Business listings
– PPC spend ??
This change is going to make it even more difficult to compete in some market spaces. You are now competing against branded sites, which will have an unfair advantage, Web2.0 properties, Universal search. Slowly the number of spaces you can take on the first 10 spots of the SERP’s are beginning to narrow. Obviously being able to use Web2.0 and Universal search in your favor does help. But getting your website into those top 3 spots is becoming increasingly difficult.
Is this a good change from Google ?. I really don’t like the notion that a branded site should appear first, just because its a recognized brand. A branded site is not always a guarantee of the best information related to your search. The original notion of Google allowed the smaller businesses to compete with the larger companies by learning how to promote their site correctly. I don’t see the big problem with this. What is wrong with promoting your site correctly as long as you are not engaging in aggressive black hat SEO. This is no different to how you would promote your business offline. Restricting the SERP’s to favor branded sites may be the first move towards a search engine that simply resembles DMOZ ….
Read some more great info on this over at webmaster worlds