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Did Google become BRAND AWARE with the Panda Update?
roycerus




msg:4296655
 4:30 am on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think with this Panda update Google has become more "BRAND AWARE". One of things I am realizing is that in terms of content you cannot really be doing or saying something that hasn't been said before or hasn't been said in some other way by someone else. So unless you are Seth Godin talking about marketing or the like - there is little value to what your tiny voice is saying.

We all like to believe "I am right", and our content is superior to others but ultimately it's the users who decide. Put the same content on two different sites - one with a fabulous design and another with a text dump and you will see users opting for the better designed one where consumption of the grub is easier and pleasing. Which is probably why services which can present the flight information data better are doing better than the respective aviation company websites.

So although EHOW may have a lot of crappy stuff - their design of bullet points may be easy for people to consume. These people must be talking and sharing their stuff everywhere - thus making their brand more visible.

So, even if for a particular keyword the content of EHOW is not very good - they may rank higher because of what their BRAND stands for. The BRAND value would probably be a collective feedback of all the content they have created and all the promotions they have done and all the little things people may have said about them.

So it probably matters how much work you have put on developing your brand name? Do you really care about the brand name or are you just working on SEO all day. What have people said about you on the social networks or on their blogs. I think all these factors have been played up on the recent update.

On a separate note, imagine if Facebook takes all it's "Like" knowledge and "social graph" knowledge and starts indexing the web. Such a search engine can be very powerful and if users can do everything - 1. be social 2. share photos 3. search for information [customized using the social and location graph] on ONE site it can be a pretty powerful.

I think Google realizes this impending danger - and I think Larry has got it right. He needs to focus on social and not only by incorporating social into the search results feed but also into email. These two are Google's strengths and they need to capitalize on this so that they can diffuse the whole idea of facebook becoming a search engine "also". And they need to do this before they start loosing more people - without people there will be little data to actually make the social work.

One of the key issues for Google here is the disparity of design in their various properties - GMAIL, ORKUT, GOOGLE SEARCH, BLOGGER don't look similar. While on facebook almost everything is consistent.

Google has already lost some search percentage and these wild changes will be required to stay in the game.

I think we as webmasters need to focus more on the BRAND - treat every visitor as a customer and treat them nicely in every possible way. Be it via website support or by talking to them and asking for suggestions about what they want. These people will go out blogging and talking on social networks about your brand eventually. It seems the online is becoming more and more like the offline world.

 

goodroi




msg:4296820
 11:45 am on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google has been talking about "brands" for a long time. Some possible ways that Google can use to determine "brands" are twitter mentions, backlinks, search queries and toolbar usage.

You do not need to be a fortune 500 company to be a "brand". Several of my websites outrank fortune 500 sites and my websites' names appear in Google suggest. I think part of SEO today is to deal with "social signals" and "brand signals".

Can you share any specific research that shows Panda is connected to "brands" or "brand signals"?

roycerus




msg:4296856
 1:02 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

No, this is just speculation just as most of the discussion about panda. I am saying the changes are possibly brand oriented because sites like EHOW and ABOUT which are mainly referred to as poor quality content by most here, seem to be gaining traffic from the members here. Some seem to be saying they got outranked by EHOW / ABOUT.

incrediBILL [webmasterworld.com...]
// Complex Panda algo update so mind blowing complex...
if( content_scraper() || thin_content() || eHow() || content_farm() ) {
PromoteContent();
} else {
GiveANastyPandaPenalty();
}

They may be full of poor quality stuff when quantified on some keyword level but there is also a ton of good material - possibly material not available elsewhere. So their BRAND probably has more value than ours.

Yes, you are correct in saying that almost everything is a brand - some of my niche sites rank higher than fortune 500 companies as well. I run about 7 dealing with business help. But I surely am nowhere near their revenue - if I was I guess I would be one of them. :)

We are all running brands - depends on how good or bad.

I was just trying to point out that possibly it's time to stop worrying so much about SEO aspect of panda and start focusing more on the Social aspects of it - why this happened? I find it odd that no one has mentioned the keywords for which there is a ton of scraped content on page 1 of search results here: [webmasterworld.com...] . It would've helped in some research.

What I think is this, that probably "tiny voices" don't mean much anymore. And most of us are tiny, except for some of the senior members who rake in +20 million page views a month. So the game has changed in the sense that if you are not one of the big boys by now - it's probably going to be much more difficult to start or claw your way to the top compared to what it was pre-panda. Does it help the search engine itself? Possibly yes, because there are just too many who are building links, buying old domains, cross linking, scraping etc.

Thus, my advice and hope was people would stop crying about SEO and start doing more social - collecting feedback, talking to their visitors and stuff like that - being more human.

By Google becoming "Brand Aware" I meant that possibly they up'ed the notch on "Brand" a bit more than they did before.

I also wanted to discuss on why Google would do this - thus the rant about facebook. I would like to believe that some of us here are smarter than the collective intellect of the Google Search team - and some of us probably are, but most (including me) are not. So a discussion on "WHY" rather than "WHAT" or "HOW" would probably help clarify things and help us improve more.

WHY do you think Google did this? What exactly do they hope to achieve? Going by what people are saying here - it seems they are failing dismally. And they can't see this!?

Leosghost




msg:4296937
 3:33 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nice posts ..roycerus
Exactly the kind of things that I'm trying to get across in the "worldwide "thread..

Small sites don't have the budget to "brand" in the classical sense of the word..but if they get the mix right, and engage , their users will create their brand for them.

crobb305




msg:4296942
 3:50 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think you're on the right track. Ten years ago, links were all Google had to determine PageRank. Then they developed TrustRank using additional authority/quality signals. Now, surely they beginning to using share data. If there was ever an opportunity to rank content based on votes from "the little guy" who doesn't have a website from which to "link", this is it. With the world of emailing, sharing, tweeting, liking, and even printing, there are lots of signals Google could use as a vote of confidence.

Heck, my 60-year-old mother has a FB page and shares content with her friends, but she never had a "website" and never understood the concept of "linking". So now, with FB, she has a voice on the internet and her vote can count. Having said that, similar signals have existed for years (bookmarking, for example -- I have had a "Google Bookmark" button on my site for 3 years and I am unsure if it has even made a difference). Side note: I tried to get my mom to sign up for the +1 experiment, sent her the instructions, and she couldn't figure it out lol. I haven't looked at it, so I assume it wasn't working, or it was too complicated or not readily apparent to her -- not a good sign if she can use FB, but +1 was too confusing.

At this point in time, I'm not certain this update has incorporated any sharing data (or fails to do it effectively). I work with a site that soared during Panda that doesn't have a FB page, no share buttons, etc; and another site that tanked, which has a FB page with 1,500 fans. Granted, these are just two examples, but I have seen more.

I still feel like there are more on-page factors being used with this update: ads, little/no content, poor (or excessive) internal linkage, and possibly some external signals like certifications that can help with branding (I see a lot of newly ranking sites with SSL and other trusted certifications).

[edited by: crobb305 at 4:29 pm (utc) on Apr 13, 2011]

Leosghost




msg:4296960
 4:28 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

At this point in time, I'm not certain this update has incorporated any sharing data (or fails to do it effectively). I work with a site that soared during Panda that doesn't have a FB page, no share buttons, etc; and another site that tanked, which has a FB page with 1,500 fans. Granted, these are just two examples, but I have seen more.

There are more places and means than facebook whereby people ( real breathing non webmaster people ) like your mother can be saying nice things about your site ..
I have a site that is #1 from 250,000,000 for its 6 letter KW domain name ..4 of the other entries on the first page of serps for that keyword are fora with posters who use that KW in their posts ..two of them link to me..

My logs show others ..but deeep down in my logs ..I'm going to go reach out to them , engage them ( not spam the fora ..just comment upon their comments , make a conversation like the cluetrain says ) ..because even the mentioning of my KW term by them is helping me ..a conversation even if its only two posts can only improve matters, ( OK I'm at #1 but who knows tomorrow ) ..or help to "proof" me a little against the future algos..doesn't seem to need much time to do this..see who is talking about you ..talk back ..keep the conversation going a little ..

Many of us spend more time every day on here, than we do talking to those who are talking about our sites ..

fresh "engaged" conversations ..G likes them .

crobb305




msg:4296963
 4:35 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

fresh "engaged" conversations ..G likes them


This definitely seems to be the case. I know it's becoming cliché, but even E-how does it. They have FB commentary on most/all of their articles. This could definitely be a signal. My concern comes from the time/resources it will take for moderation. There are so many spiteful people out there, and lots of scammers looking for a voice. I've always wanted to start a personal YouTube channel so I could upload home movies and such, but I have always told myself that I would keep comments turned off, because I just don't want to deal with the negativity from others. Some of us just don't want to be that engaged or have to deal with conversation constantly. So when it comes to website rankings, I hate to think that our hands are being forced on this. It gives haters and scammers a free voice (I see spam links posted all over the Yahoo Answers pages that occupy the #1 spot in the Google SERPS). Alas, I fear that you are correct. Liking/sharing are one aspect, but active engagement may really be getting a boost.

tedster




msg:4297030
 6:25 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Last year I mentioned the new "Holy Grail" for search engines - measuring engagement. That is a term borrowed from social media, but it seems clear how important engagement metrics can be for search, especially in the e-commerce space.

If an online business doesn't engage its market in some real way, you have a danger signal that the "business" may just be good at manipulating the more traditional ranking signals. and if you can measure engagement in a refined and hard-to-game manner, then you have a very potent signal.

So I say Yes to "brand-aware" - even "engagement-aware."

roycerus




msg:4297068
 7:12 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thank you crobb, Leosghost.

I have a feeling that this has been tested in bits and pieces throughout the year. The past one year has been dead still for us in terms of revenue and traffic - and possibly not downhill only because we tried very hard to engage with our users and speak to them regarding what they wanted. We took suggestions right down to the placements on the page - what appealed to them - what was easy to use. Made positive changes which increased traffic. Later near the end of 2010 we incorporated social sharing - mostly automated but the content would go through variety of spam tests before being broadcasted to our social pages - first to twitter and from there to facebook and linkedin. In the last four months we have gathered up about 4000 fans on facebook - and the page is kept vibrant with personal comments and acknowledgements whenever someone likes any of our content.

You are right crobb, dealing with people directly is a bit messy. But clearly Google is throwing the "just content" approach out of the window - more so probably only to compete with these social giants.

I think with the arrival of this update it is becoming more apparent the extent of what they (google) consider social is very diverse. Right from the onsite comments to the links from other blogs to the comments on those blogs plus the sharing on social sites. I don't think it is impossible to develop a cypher to understand the tone of the comments and the responses. Not to mention the fact that they have access to google dns, google analytics, toolbar data, search algorithm. I bet even the adsense units are doing more than just displaying ads. The amount of data is just mind boggling.

But still they are just not able to do social - as I mentioned - and this is just a personal observation that almost all the Google properties look different. I went back to orkut after about a year and was perplexed to be honest. Everything had changed and had a different navigational name, different functions and seemingly clever words to describe functions. I left quickly.

The reason why I keep going back to this point is because to me it seems that Google is trying to fix this ONE problem. How to retain users. They are fighting other search engines, social networks and a lot of other things. As you grow large I guess it becomes increasingly difficult to change your point of view and be open to the "NEW" or be standardized throughout your properties. This is one thing they (Google) have done very well with adsense. Users now know that they are ads and are willing to believe (even if unknowingly) that if someone is paying to promote the site - it cannot be all garbage. Those days of spammy adwords are behind us now.

So in all this chaos I think their first reaction is to sort the basic - their search results. If they can't do that - they don't really have a company. So if they are looking at such diverse "social signals" suddenly there is bound to be a major reshuffling of ranking, and that is what I think has happened. The bits and pieces have been put together and now they will try to move to the social approach with +1.

But in my opinion this is too little to compete against facebook - if facebook can do social graphs they can surely do web search or local search with decent accuracy - plus they have this huge advantage of constantly engaged users. This competition is severe and unless they get something good out quickly - they will have a tough time in the future.

And if the facebook search clicks.... it's a lot of trouble. Remember Google search is on android but facebook is everywhere.

We are now trying to focus on our users completely - what seo we have is enough to help us be called a well structured site. We are trying to work on trying to identify and engage our brightest active users and asking them to engage other users. Like Leosghost said, the users will create the brand for us. The more people we engage, the better for us. If we have majority, we cannot be ignored.

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