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Brands - it's now getting silly
superclown2

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Msg#: 4338853 posted 6:50 am on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm now seeing repeated examples of major websites that are market leaders for their products, with pages crammed with information, outranked by 'bigger brands' who actually act as affiliates for that same market leader, and who have just a single page of 200-ish word plain vanilla information about the product.

I am finding it more and more difficult, if not virtually impossible, to find information about many products I am interested in because content sites have disappeared and the 'big brands' have taken over, even in small specialist niches.

I well remember the small shops being pushed out of the crowded High Street by the big chains, in the same way. Many of those High Streets here in the UK are now full of shuttered up stores as the shoppers have gone elsewhere, bored by the sameness of it all and the big chains are going broke with monotonous regularity. Is Google taking the Internet down the same path?

 

tedster

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Msg#: 4338853 posted 7:21 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd say Google is mirroring human culture's apparent preferences and weaknesses. It will continue to shift a oscillate.

Planet13

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Msg#: 4338853 posted 8:10 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

My personal opinion (really more of a guess) is that this is more evidence that the death of Page Rank has been exaggerated in these forums.

I really think that big brands get big links simply due to the fact that they are so well recognized, and thus ordinary people are more willing to link to them.

also, if you look at some of the major SEO software sites out there, they seem to boast how many big name companies are using their software. If they ARE truly using their software, I would imagine that they are using it for link building as well.

Again, just a wild guess. No scientific evidence to back it up.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 8:26 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's just as easy for a small business to compete online as it's ever been. Possibly even easier.

Small businesses have advantages that large companies don't have, large companies have weaknesses. Wringing our hands and saying 'we're too small' isn't an advantage.

Nobody at a large company with a 9-5 job is going to network with every player in the industry, call them all every six months and maybe beg for some links. A small player? They can do that if they want to. Or not.

Nobody at a large company is going to spend 2 weeks doing absolutely mindnumbing labor just to get a 1/2 dozen super quality links. If the companies large enough, they probably couldn't even initiate a task like that even if they wanted to. A small company? The owner can do that in the evenings if they want to.

Large companies move heavier than small companies - but small companies move faster.

All sorts of advantages - but they're only advantages if you take advantage of them. I like the fact that I'm a bit player and not a brand.

netmeg

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Msg#: 4338853 posted 8:54 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Me too. Goes back to what I was saying in some other item, about the client who goes head to head with Amazon on $1500+ products and wins every time, because Amazon *can't* be the expert in that product line.

Shatner



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 11:31 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>Nobody at a large company with a 9-5 job is going to network with every player in the industry, call them all every six months and maybe beg for some links. A small player? They can do that if they want to.

Not really. The company can hire someone to do NOTHING but network 9-5 while the small player must network and try to do everything else that must be done entirely himself.

>>>Nobody at a large company is going to spend 2 weeks doing absolutely mindnumbing labor just to get a 1/2 dozen super quality links.

Completely incorrect. Again, companies just hire people whose job it is to do nothing but the mindnumbing labor to get those links. I know many people with jobs at major corporations who do exactly that.

In fact those companies don't just hire one person to do it, they hire groups of people to do it, while the small business just has one guy who fits that in while he does a million other things.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 11:49 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is Google taking the Internet down the same path?
IMO yes. It's the same effect as high PR in the early days, when high PR sites ranked for everything, no matter how irrelevant. But this time Google is much smarter, and IMO it's done for a different reason (survival of their company and stock) and it will get worse as time goes by. Google is building a Home Depot, Macys, Sears, JcPenney and Walmart, ShopRite* in every town with a few lines of code.

In real life you had a 2-3 year advance notice from the announcement, site selection, approvals, town meeting...petitions...and not all stores would open in one town, but Google needs no approval, nor is it running for office again. Most people have chosen elected them 'for life' and even if they notice a bad thing here and there they are forgiving. Even if their approval rate drops a bit it's OK, as long more money is being made. If it gets to bad they can always change a bit, meanwhile they are making a fortune even as market share stays the same or diminishes.

*edited to add: and users aren't even getting the cheapest items since for now Google organic search is blind to prices and relevancy suffers drastically when brand powers is turned too much. So you get the worst of both worlds.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:07 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

In fact those companies don't just hire one person to do it, they hire groups of people to do it, while the small business just has one guy who fits that in while he does a million other things.

I'm well aware how large companies operate, having worked at one for too much of a decade. And how you're describing isn't how it works. Large companies are full of cordwood for employees.

I'm not going to argue this or defend my point. It's simple, if you're a small business owner, either you see the advantage you have in being small, or you're cordwood anyway.

I always see my small business as an advantage.

tedster

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Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:20 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

wheel, many of the enterprise clients I've worked with over the years do have dedicated teams such as were described here. Others have nothing like it. There's a wide variation.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:30 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Walmart and the likes have "Blogger teams" for example that blog about their patron Saints. Or give coupons and giveaways for a "Like," tweet, and soon +1. Or have dozens and dozens of PR people that know /pay journos to create news whenever they want. An average business simple can't compete if G turns the brand power so much that individual pages no longer matter. You may find a pocket of oxygen but that's temporary, it will run out. If a mediocre big brand page drowns your top page, it's over, especially since even long tails are going to the top sites more and more.


My personal opinion (really more of a guess) is that this is more evidence that the death of Page Rank has been exaggerated in these forums. I really think that big brands get big links simply due to the fact that they are so well recognized, and thus ordinary people are more willing to link to them.

This is a 2-3 year phenom, even more with Panda. Did they really get that many more links, all of the sudden?

viggen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:58 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@wheel
I agree to an extend, the biggest drawback of "big coroporations" is often that it takes forever to make a decision. Very often my business partners (publishing industry), are gob smacked that i can implement their advertising campaing within an hour, or make last minute changes right away, without going a corporate ladder routine...

@superclown2 I dont see that really, but than again we all have our "niche" tunnel vision, personally i find 90% of the time at Google what i am looking for...

p.s. I wonder if thats how you create the impression of Brand to Google now; Hire outsource force in the thousands to just type in your domain name and search for it stay on it browse on it, after a month and tens of thousands of people looking and surfing and staying with low bounce rate, Google decides, wow that must be a brand if so many looking for that domain...? ;)

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 6:23 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

p.s. I wonder if thats how you create the impression of Brand to Google now; Hire outsource force in the thousands to just type in your domain name and search for it stay on it browse on it, after a month and tens of thousands of people looking and surfing and staying with low bounce rate, Google decides, wow that must be a brand if so many looking for that domain...?


Personally, I would just use an app to do that.

I think wheel's point might be if you are an expert in your field AND you are the one doing the link building, then you can get links from other expert sites in their fields. The type of experts who wouldn't even open an email or take a call from an employee of a wal-mart or a whatever.

suggy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 6:26 am on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Viggen - natural behaviour of the same kind may well contribute to exact match domains doing so well. May be Google's algo struggles to distinguish between real brands and three word generics, with the later generating a false positive on EMDs.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 2:12 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Because I work in a market populated with huge monolithic international 'brands', one of the worst case scenarios that I try to plan for is, what happens if my competitors wake up one day and hire tedster. Since I'm not even in the same planetary system as tedster when it comes to SEO it looks like I'm screwed - he's going to steam roll right over top of my rankings. And it's entirely possible that could happen. But actually, it's not guaranteed. I have some surprises instore.

First, I have a headstart. I can start building for that today. I want my site built so that when tedster does his initial review of the niche, he looks at it he increases his price by 50%, and then adds in a caveat that 'it's going to be very difficult, some dude wasn't very bright, but he's been working hard for a long time.'.

So, first order of defence. Your competitors, the 'brands', are going to hire tedster in 1 year's time. What are you doing about that today?

Secondly, I am a small business, just me and my spouse. What advantages does that give me over a walmart-like entity that has hired tedster? There are lots. So second thing, what's your list of your advantages of being small vs. big?

Here's a perhaps odd example. It's a quiet week this week at work, so I want to build some links. Today I'm going to hop on my bike for a couple hours and think about it as I peddle through the countryside. So Walmart-brand has a whole team of SEO experts. How many of them can walk into work and say "It's sunny today, so I'm blowing off work today to go for a bike ride. I'll catch you guy at lunch".?

And Google doesn't know 'brands'. They only know onpage and offpage factors. I'm personally doubtful that Google cares about brands specifically, but if they are then they are only measuring those two factors. They don't know nike like you and I know nike from the swoosh and all the offline ads. They only know the attributes of the website. And I've seen nothing that says I can't get those same onpage or offpage factors that would lead an algo to believe that I'm a brand. I ignore the 'brand' aspect and do my online marketing - and frankly I think the brand stuff will come by itself.

bakedjake

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 2:24 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

And Google doesn't know 'brands'. They only know onpage and offpage factors.


This is sage advice.

sanjuu



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:31 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

And Google doesn't know 'brands'. They only know onpage and offpage factors.



Can they not see which sites are getting a lot of direct traffic or non-search referrals? This doesn't guarantee a 'brand', but is highly suggestive wouldn't you say?

Rlilly

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:37 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Wheel but its highly suspected that there is manual intervention which helps the Brands. I think 100% they artificially push the big brands up.

We sell niche office products and for some terms CVS is a head of us. It was some what understandable when Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Best Buy went ahead of us, but a pharmacy....

trinorthlighting

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 3:57 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to agree about brands recently.

If I want to shop at amazon.com, I am not going to go to Google and search a product and click through to Amazon. I would just go to Amazon in the first place right?

Then I am seeing Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.... If I want to shop at those stores chances are I am actually going to drive down the block and shop at the store itself and save some delivery fees right?

Seems like these days in Google it is all about Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes and Amazon. Come on Google, you are losing some searchers and making me go to the second, third and fourth page of results.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 4:29 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

They don't know nike like you and I know nike from the swoosh and all the offline ads. They only know the attributes of the website. And I've seen nothing that says I can't get those same onpage or offpage factors that would lead an algo to believe that I'm a brand.


Exactly. And not just a brand, but an authority, and a trusted source. Given what Google has already said about how they judge quality, these things are important. And they have to be in your footprint.

Some of the sites I oversee that have done well against the big boys include things like pictures and videos of the owner and employees actually using and demonstrating the products (not models, and not stock photography). A headshot of the owner in the navigation bar - a face people can attribute to the brand. A 24/7 toll free customer service number and the company address on every page. SSL certificate graphics. I did a quick audit of one client's top 15 competitors and 2/3rds of them didn't even list a return policy on their site and the other third buried it seven clicks deep. So we found a place on the home page for a big honking sploosh about the return policy, and how they'd take anything back - even the custom stuff. So the site looks accountable. It looks like there are real people behind it that you could get ahold of if you needed to.

That's not everything, of course. But it's a start.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 4:43 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

My comments weren't meant to be disrespectful towards tedster BTW. I was intending to show that even a top brand, who hires the top experts in the world, even these people have inherent limitations in their system. And these limitations are exploitable.

Maybe Google's measuring direct traffic, I've no idea. I don't lose any sleep over it. If I keep marketing my stuff online, I'll get that direct traffic anyway. In fact, it's likely that of the independents in my niche that I do get type in traffic - my competitors and others in my industry I know watch what I do. In any event, it's not something I can change and I'm sure it can easily be overcome. In fact I know it can be - again, little old me ranks amongst large brand names, so it's doable by anyone. So it's not an excuse for not ranking in my books.

here's an example. People talk about budgets of $10K per month. Now, I don't spend even a fraction of that a year on direct SEO. I don't think I could spend 10K a month without wasting money.

So the brands are spending 10K on SEO. You've got a budget just north of $0. So you have to build links for free.

Remember what types of links Google likes best? Free one. so, advantage you. The $10K budget is a huge limitation, because the mindset is that they need to spend the $10K and they will naturally look for the most effective way to spend that $10K BUT they will naturally exclude opportunities that require a lot of work but cost little.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 4:56 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I seriously wish that google (panda in particular) screws wheel's and netmeg's sites, so we will then be able to learn how they go about tackling them. Seriously. Their sites need to be kissed by panda for the benefit of webmasters.

Reno

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 4:56 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Re the criteria that Google uses to determine a "brand", I would postulate that it's not just links but also the sheer number of times a specific brand name is mentioned across the entire WWW, be it on blogs or forums or product pages or even in gmail. Google can keep that tally and score accordingly. The word "Nike" for example has probably been used many millions of times, so anyone going into that niche will have to face the fact that Google will inevitably conclude that the "Nike" tally makes it an important brand to people. Given the emphasis that many of us believe Google is putting on established brands, it's all the more reason to seek much smaller niche markets when launching new online efforts.

...........................

walkman



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:09 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I seriously wish that google (panda in particular) screws wheel's and netmeg's sites, so we will then be able to learn how they go about tackling them. Seriously. Their sites need to be kissed by panda for the benefit of webmasters.
I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Getting more type-ins than Google visits is not something to look forward to. Maybe we have the wonder couple, not even Nike nor Walmart can beat them.
wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:13 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I seriously wish that google (panda in particular) screws wheel's and netmeg's sites, so we will then be able to learn how they go about tackling them. Seriously. Their sites need to be kissed by panda for the benefit of webmasters.

Not going to happen - I'm not going to get panda'd Sorry, you don't want to hear it,but it's true. I built my site with an eye to being algo proof. I have diverse but relevant backlinks and strong content.Everyone gets whiney about that, but it's true. And it's working, which seems like it's great for me, but somehow some people seem to take as bad for them.

Besides, I already explicitly posted what to do. Twice. And nobody listened. So here it is the third time.

Blow off the panda'd site and start work (cleanly) on a secondary backup site that you have waiting in the wings. (note: make sure you have backup sites at all times).

Aside: Having multiple secondary sites is an aspect of being algo proof. I could get hammered by Google - I'd be stunned if it happened, but it's outside my control. So I've got numerous discrete sites for that eventuality.

Instead, most people are waiting for some technical solution. ***That's probably the attitude that got you panda'd in the first place. While you're sitting here complaining about people that didn't get penalized and following them, and counting your losses, you could've had 2-3 months towards working on your next site. Nobody wants to believe that their site got slapped because it had weak backlinks and thin content. Yet that's the entire purpose of the latest algo wasn't it?

Whatever, I suspect I'm talking to a wall. We've had these posts before and all that comes from it is that I appear arrogant and condescending. Shrug.

MrSavage

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:18 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@indyank, won't happen.

@netmeg, great advice in there thanks.

Big brands and what I'm seeing is that Google is saying that for example, that Amazon is the most trusted website regarding electronics, computers, laptops, and anything else you can think of. So if you are looking for any of those 5,000 products, bingo, Google says Amazon is the best match. But the clincher is that Google is getting (in my opinion)very loose on their authority definitions. It's very loose imo. So you type in anything remotely close to those electronics, and Amazon is coming up. Pre Panda I personally think that if you had a niche, you would be rated against other niche and that niche would win out. Now because Google is saying that your niche is really electronics, then Amazon is the most trusted authority. I would throw CNET, Engadget and others into that mix. That's why brands can and seem to be winning. It's because Google is using broader scope to subjects. So say, 5000 keyword phrases before would see CNET rank in the top, but now you could say it's 50,000 keyword phrases because Google is broadening the scope of what CNET is an authority in. Not sure if this makes sense the way I'm describing it.

With all the weight in trust, and combine that with Google broadening the scope of what keywords these sites win out on, would explain the demise of a lot of competitive niche type websites which also have CNET, Amazon etc lurking. If you went to a highly targeted niche that was in the technology realm, you didn't need all that weight of brand to get organic traffic. If Google is now saying, you're looking for "blue widget with bluetooth port xyz", there is your site with that review or there is CNET among others. Just because you are an expert and that's your site focus, it can't possibly win out when you take these "trust" variables that Panda puts so much weight in. You are a drop in the ocean and in most of my research, that means you are well behind now in the rankings. Those trusted sites essentially gobbled up those niches because Google puts their trust in their site. They cover what you cover? You're toast.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:28 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wheel, you might sound arrogant but I am one who wouldn't be bothered by it. All that matters is you do have some interesting ways to go about things and that alone is enough for me to follow you.

My feeling is that even if you had been pandalized, you would have been out of it soon and it wouldn't really harm you.

The backup site is a good advice. Thanks. What keeps me here (and probably a few others) are the backup sites.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:46 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I seriously wish that google (panda in particular) screws wheel's and netmeg's sites, so we will then be able to learn how they go about tackling them. Seriously. Their sites need to be kissed by panda for the benefit of webmasters.


(Wow)

For me, if I want to be algo proof (or close as one could get - nothing is certain) it starts with the business model. I don't get into niches or business models where I don't think I stand a damn good chance of knocking it out of the park anymore. And I don't take on clients who have business models that can't knock it out of the park (or are at least willing to adapt to it) Life is too short. I've spent too much of it banging my head against walls. There is a lot of untapped potential. It took me decades to learn to focus on what's there and not on what's not.

(And yes, I too am a firm believer of multiple sites, multiple channels, and never ever ever putting all eggs in one or even two baskets)

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:56 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)


I am finding it more and more difficult, if not virtually impossible, to find information about many products I am interested in because content sites have disappeared and the 'big brands' have taken over, even in small specialist niches.


Hehe, just wait until you have a technical problem of some sort with your computer or software or whatever, then you'll see how bad it is.

'Google it' used to mean performing a search and getting an answer. Now 'Google it' means perform a search and get an answer SITE (with borrowed content and useless features).

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 5:57 pm (utc) on Jul 14, 2011]

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:56 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

even a top brand, who hires the top experts in the world, even these people have inherent limitations in their system. And these limitations are exploitable.

Absolutely. Top brands often have systems (people systems and data systems) that are so convoluted that SEO for them involves consulting for corporate change. And corporate change is a very slow thing - an anchor the entrepreneurial businessperson doesn't have around their neck.

it starts with the business model

Yes, yes yes! ... and SEO is not a business model. In a post-Panda world, that should be getting crystal clear.

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4338853 posted 5:59 pm on Jul 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is crystal clear. I was able to yank the sitemap, keyword meta, description meta, rss feed and various other 'core' features from a site recently without losing ANY traffic (2 weeks and counting).

Google stopped believing anything we add manually, unless it's a feature (ie:map with kml file etc).

SEO is on the out, but not something you want to ignore completely. Your site needs to be a contender for any given keyword or it won't rank, SEO'd or not. That's been Google's goal all along. I just hate that we are seeing mega sites regurgitating small site content to get top rankings, it's not good on any level.

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