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Big brands do not have the upper hand - Matt Cutts
Whitey




msg:4554060
 8:41 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Big brands cannot do whatever they want. They look at value add, etc. Faster, better, better UI, content, etc.

It is weird, Google does take action on big sites and big sites often do not like to talk about it. So it happens a lot. [seroundtable.com...]

Live blog interview with Matt Cutts.

How are members seeing those quality signals playing out in the SERP's compared to "smaller" brands.

 

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4561344
 1:32 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Forgive me TheOptimizationIdiot but no source needed for what is obvious. "a LOT of people are looking for "alternative" viewpoints" and "there are queries where people prefer small, independent websites" so what he said is true. You argue maybe about what is "a LOT" or how many queries but more helpful to forum reader than just "What's the source of the data for your conclusions?

I didn't argue at all. I simply asked for a source, because it's obviously not obvious to all of us (the people I know would like the opposite of the statement made - meaning Mayo Clinic and Major brands are what they want and expect to find), but my sample size is relatively small so maybe the people I know are "odd" and I'd like to know where the data comes from that says Google's results are wrong and they would be serving their users better and giving their users more of what they really want to see with a different type of result than what they are currently ranking.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4561347
 1:50 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

the people I know would like the opposite of the statement made - meaning Mayo Clinic and Major brands are what they want and expect


I'm not sure Mayo Clinic or Livestrong or Web MD are "major brands" that people even know or recognise. You might argue that "Livestrong" is a big brand, but it's not well known for being a source of all-things medical - it's known for raising money for cancer awareness. I'm from the UK - I've never heard of the "Mayo Clinic" outside of Google's top 3 results :)

tedster




msg:4561356
 2:24 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

They offer generalised information at best that you often feel is written by someone who is NOT an expert on the subject, which is often not what you want when you want EVERY detail on a particular ailment.

That usually helps me refine my [medical] query and then get down to that detailed information.

My issue when I begin searching is often that I don't know enough to formulate a really good query. That's when I really appreciate seeing those "big brands" in the results for more general query terms. Those pages may not give me exactly what I want, but they certainly can be trusted to set me on a good path. Sometimes it's the footnotes and references, but sometimes it's just gaining the proper vocabulary. Even Knowledge Base data can do that for me, too.

aristotle




msg:4561363
 2:36 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Big Brands = trust ?

Just because a company is big and well-known doesn't mean that it's trustworthy. What about all the fraud and insider cheating that goes on at big Wall Street financial companies? What about the big drug companies that have been caught doctoring the results of drug trials, and the drugs that had to be recalled after they caused a lot of deaths? What about all the false information that big energy companies have put out regarding pollution? What about all the deceptive, even false, television ads that big political organizations have paid for?

Big Brands = Trust ?

I don't think so

netmeg




msg:4561368
 2:50 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well not for *you* obviously.

But for most people, yes.

(I'm pretty sure The Mayo Clinic may safely be regarded as an extremely authoritative medical resource, for those of you in other parts of the world)

tedster




msg:4561369
 2:56 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Of course big brands are not always WORTHY of trust. But they GOT to be big brands by gaining consumer trust.

In fact, that's how the whole concept of "brand name" evolved in the 1800s. The idea was, if you see the same name then you can "trust" their offering to be what you already know.

diberry




msg:4561381
 3:25 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

My source is that I've actually been part of several communities seeking out non-mainstream views on politics, sociology, medicine, etc. Not everyone finds mainstream ideas/opinions/theory satisfying - especially if you know how often medical "facts" actually haven't been tested. I.E., for decades doctors advised us that eating saturated fats would give us high cholesterol. This conclusion was actually based on a very limited study on a few heart patients - its conclusions were never intended as general advice for all humans. Finally, between 2008 and 2012, someone decided to do studies to confirm the conclusions for everyone, and they got the surprise of their lives: saturated fat consistently raised the GOOD cholesterol in human test subjects. Which means we're back to not really knowing what causes a bad cholesterol profile, nor how to fix it - in fact, we're not even sure we know what constitutes a bad cholesterol profile, as doctors worldwide are struggling with various theories.

This is the real info, that comes from real studies. You find it on small, independent sites with citations from academic studies and textbooks, not Livestrong.

Granted, this is a minority niche, but when the query clearly indicates the searcher is looking for alternative views, mainstream sites should not come up first. That's all I'm saying. And again, I'm not accusing Google of intentionally boosting brands. It just works out that way sometimes when it shouldn't, so there is room for improvement.


tedster, medical searches are a good example of where Google are REALLY bad - they put way too much weight onto a very small cluster of sites - livestrong, mayoclinic, webmd etc - they pop up every time no matter what symptoms / medical query you put into Google. They offer generalised information at best that you often feel is written by someone who is NOT an expert on the subject, which is often not what you want when you want EVERY detail on a particular ailment.


Precisely. They give a nice overview, but they don't link to actual studies - and that's really important if you have an unusual health issue or one that's poorly understood.

Again: I'm not saying alternative sites should trump MayoClinic when someone's looking up a common disorder. But when the query is clearly seeking alternative medical information or the studies themselves, sites with that info should come up before sites that don't have that info, but have more trust signals.

Is this really such a controversial view? Do some people actually think that a query should bring up irrelevant results first, just because they're on popular sites? That certainly WOULD constitute brands being given an artificial boost by Google, just because they're brands.

I actually believe Matt entirely. I don't think the algo is designed to give brands a boost, but I think sometimes it works out that way because the algo is imperfect at determining how much "trust" should come into a query.

A better method, IMO, would be if Google looked for sites that actually link to and cite genuine medical studies from recognized study sites like PubMed/NCBI. That's where you'll get the most proven, validated information available in current medical science.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4561382
 3:27 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

My issue when I begin searching is often that I don't know enough to formulate a really good query. That's when I really appreciate seeing those "big brands" in the results for more general query terms. Those pages may not give me exactly what I want, but they certainly can be trusted to set me on a good path. Sometimes it's the footnotes and references, but sometimes it's just gaining the proper vocabulary. Even Knowledge Base data can do that for me, too.


Web MD, Mayo, Livestrong - they all are pretty much clones of each other in that they're medical encyclopedias, and THEN there's Wikipedia which repeats the same generalised information you'll find on the "brand" medical sites. So I see these sites all the time taking up the first page for medical searches - often with one of them taking up more than one spot.

The web is a much richer place than just offering me up these encyclopedia-type sites saying the same thing as each other.

If a site has dedicated itself to a particular condition or ailment and has built up a community around it (often a community of experienced sufferers who can give great advice AND reassurance), then that deserves to be found quickly (IMHO) rather than being on page 4 of Google because it's not a "brand". Quite often these sites are run by non-marketing types - they're enthusiasts. So I guess they have to become "brands" in some way....

aristotle




msg:4561385
 3:51 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

One of the great things about the web is that it enables people or groups with new ideas, alternative approaches, or minority views to potentially reach large audiences at little cost. But if Google allows big-money interests to dominate the search results, they are helping to reinforce the status quo, and making it harder for humankind to solve the problems that confront it.

diberry




msg:4561392
 4:09 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

If a site has dedicated itself to a particular condition or ailment and has built up a community around it (often a community of experienced sufferers who can give great advice AND reassurance), then that deserves to be found quickly (IMHO) rather than being on page 4 of Google because it's not a "brand". Quite often these sites are run by non-marketing types - they're enthusiasts. So I guess they have to become "brands" in some way....


Yes. Google should be trying to connect me with the information I'm seeking, NOT websites that lack that info but have better trust signals.

One of the great things about the web is that it enables people or groups with new ideas, alternative approaches, or minority views to potentially reach large audiences at little cost. But if Google allows big-money interests to dominate the search results, they are helping to reinforce the status quo, and making it harder for humankind to solve the problems that confront it.


Word. Every proven, reliable idea started as an unproven minority hypothesis. The harder it is to get those views out there, the less progress we can make.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4561415
 5:32 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

One of the great things about the web is that it enables people or groups with new ideas, alternative approaches, or minority views to potentially reach large audiences at little cost. But if Google allows big-money interests to dominate the search results, they are helping to reinforce the status quo, and making it harder for humankind to solve the problems that confront it.


And if you use Google, it's actually quite hard to find this part of the web, and it's getting harder. Mediocre and "good enough" content hits page 1 on Google simply because it's published on super-trusted domain names.

netmeg




msg:4561494
 8:23 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yea well I'm pretty sure you're arguing a losing battle on this one.

tedster




msg:4561510
 9:32 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

that deserves to be found quickly (IMHO) rather than being on page 4 of Google because it's not a "brand"

Agreed, but Google does seem pretty committed to its current path.

It has seemed to me for several years that there is a real business opportunity here in helping this kind of off-brand but worthwhile website to surface. Good business ideas come from spotting needs and then meeting them, after all. I just can't quite flesh it out well enough to get a solid business plan. But I do know that I would use an alternative directory or search engine that was clean of most spam and still presented those minority voices.

Who knows, if it was well done, Google might even use it ;)

diberry




msg:4561511
 9:35 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

netmeg and Tedster, what are you saying Google is committed to? Putting trust signals ahead of relevance? Boosting brands?

tedster




msg:4561519
 9:37 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm saying they are committed to search results that serve the greater majority of regular users, rather than those of us who may have more specialized interests.

netmeg




msg:4561530
 10:07 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yep. Everything with Google has to scale.

Whitey




msg:4561534
 10:28 pm on Apr 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Putting trust signals ahead of relevance? Boosting brands?

I think this may happen at times because of the conflict between relevance and signals. And I think Google "tries" to surface what it anticipates to be the users intent.

It's perhaps a flaw that a smaller site with insufficient signals, but better quality information or UI cannot rise above a brand in a truly democratic web.

In this part of the World a search for "healthy eating options" fortunately does not surface a branded phrase used by a global fast food giant. The system anticipates my need and not the need of the company and honours the term "healthy" as a prerequisite word. This is despite it's branding recollection in the vocabulary of most people around meal times; and a web site content section, supported by global PR, on the companies site espousing all of the practices, quotes and high level references that try to brand itself as a responsible, caring, child friendly, politically loved, diet conscious corporation intent on delivering the very best in healthy food.

So in this case the fast food giant doesn't have the upper hand on that mass marketed, trade identifiable term associated with part of it's product range. I wonder if they got masses of citations and editorial links associated with the term if Google would allow it to rank with relevance in mind.

But it's not as straight forward as this in all cases. The perception barrier that I'm picking up is a belief, that, users and webmasters are often unable to surface results most relevant due to the prejudicial clutter of multiple brand slots reserved for folks with deep pockets, at the expense of small/medium sized business' and their sites.

Ultimately, there is a tipping point and if the need becomes sufficiently strong that users become dissatisfied a new opportunity may arise as Tedster points out.

But Google does try to meet that challenge with various techniques e.g. locality search , Google suggest etc . Google may eventually fall on it's sword in many areas because it cannot adequately service too many masters well. I guess many successful big business' have to withdraw to core product strategies and let the outlying areas be serviced by others, as exemplified by Microsoft as it tried to expand into non core areas.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4561655
 10:24 am on Apr 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

It has seemed to me for several years that there is a real business opportunity here in helping this kind of off-brand but worthwhile website to surface. Good business ideas come from spotting needs and then meeting them, after all. I just can't quite flesh it out well enough to get a solid business plan. But I do know that I would use an alternative directory or search engine that was clean of most spam and still presented those minority voices.


100% agree tedster. I mentioned this before about the small business search engine if Google continue on their path. IF there is a need for such a search engine (and I believe there will be), then someone will build it. Google's every move is done with their shareholders in mind, even if they hate that kind of pressure and distraction - it is there. It's causing Google to compromise heavily on accuracy and diversity in their SERPs. Just in the UK alone, there are 4.8M (million) small businesses. Many people want to find and use these businesses. Many of these businesses will offer better services than the big brands can because they are small. The gap between what Google offer and what people need is growing in my opinion. Remember that the world does not revolve around Google, but around the aggregate needs of people.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4561679
 12:02 pm on Apr 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

In this part of the World a search for "healthy eating options" fortunately does not surface a branded phrase used by a global fast food giant. The system anticipates my need and not the need of the company and honours the term "healthy" as a prerequisite word. This is despite it's branding recollection in the vocabulary of most people around meal times; and a web site content section, supported by global PR, on the companies site espousing all of the practices, quotes and high level references that try to brand itself as a responsible, caring, child friendly, politically loved, diet conscious corporation intent on delivering the very best in healthy food.


Whitey - that's a good point on those kinds of keyphrases. Already McDonalds is trying to rebrand themselves as having healthy items on their menus. And of course when you go to McDonalds, they will try to upsell some large fries and a big cup of diet coke with that (as if all that aspartame will be healthy just because it's "diet" coke). So what if McDonalds decide to really push this "healthy eating" message online? Will Google reward their brand power with better rankings for "healthy eating" searches?

diberry




msg:4561765
 5:01 pm on Apr 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm saying they are committed to search results that serve the greater majority of regular users, rather than those of us who may have more specialized interests.


Either we're not communicating, or you're saying that Google INTENDS to give me irrelevant results when it knows I'm searching for niche information. I can't believe you'd argue that (it smacks of conspiracy theory), so...

Maybe we can clarify this with a madeup, not-real-search example. Let's imagine I'm having constant elbow infections, and my doctor's only solution is to keep medicating them because she can't find an underlying reason why they keep happening. I pick up a free magazine from outside the hippie health food store, and it talks about "wacky elbow infection syndrome", a controversial new disorder that medical science isn't acknowledging the existence of yet, and it sounds just like what I have! So then I Google "wacky elbow infection syndrome". My top results are likely to be several completely irrelevant articles from Mayo et al. On page 4 I finally find independent sites and forums where sufferers and alternative practitioners are talking about "wacky elbow infection syndrome." Nothing like that phrase occurred on the established medical sites at the top of the SERPs.

So for which reason are you arguing this happens?

--Because Google is committed to boosting "brand" sites even when it's clear they have nothing to offer a particular searcher, and the searcher will be disappointed?
--Because the algo isn't perfect, and sometimes the factors within it don't quite hit the right balance?
--Because Google is dedicated to forcing everyone to think mainstream, and is punishing the naughty open-minded searcher by burying the naughty alternative thoughts on page 4?

Bluejeans




msg:4561766
 5:03 pm on Apr 5, 2013 (gmt 0)


It has seemed to me for several years that there is a real business opportunity here in helping this kind of off-brand but worthwhile website to surface. Good business ideas come from spotting needs and then meeting them, after all. I just can't quite flesh it out well enough to get a solid business plan. But I do know that I would use an alternative directory or search engine that was clean of most spam and still presented those minority voices.


Why can't Google do it? You can already limit searches to discussions, blogs, dates. You can get personal results and impersonal results. Why not organize by Trust or by Relevance? People might be confused at first but I think the utility of it would become quickly apparent.

Whitey




msg:4561844
 9:34 pm on Apr 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

@diberry - clearly the "pass" that Google is giving brands boosts their entire sites regardless of individual page quality. So it's not always a case of what the user wants, but a case of what the user gets. And that means it's relevance is brought into question at times - especially in large verticals.

Where critical information ( such as life related ) is required and relied on, MC/Google has previously stated their concerns about trying to manage it - but perhaps more from a SPAM standpoint rather than a brand related standpoint.

Although, this is important due to it's sensitivity, let's not forget the responsibility of how information is conveyed to influence thinking, and how it can have both good and bad consequences.

Concentration of power has it's benefits at times, but left for too long it is open to becoming stale or capable of administering an abuse of influence. For that reason alone, results and core market participants need some loosening up.

Small/medium business' need to be given the opportunity to participate and not be given up for dead as MC indicated, when he stated that those folks in large verticals may as well give up and go build in niche areas.

The niche medical example provided by @diberry is the sort of thing that needs to be encouraged to ensure that quality doesn't become polarized to a precious few brands that offer no depth in places.

If Google ticks a brand, users might automatically consider it good. Top ranking sites enjoy better engagement, simply because many users accept Google as making their choice for them. Because of that, user "trust" translating to brand doesn't mean the product/message is "trustworthy". In fact, as we all know, it can be the complete opposite. Left to dominate, it can actually kill off what is good, except for those that thrive on it commercially.

micklearn




msg:4562262
 3:50 am on Apr 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Whitey - Excellent points all around. One of the best posts I've read on here.

atlrus




msg:4562419
 7:18 pm on Apr 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Small/medium business' need to be given the opportunity to participate and not be given up for dead as MC indicated, when he stated that those folks in large verticals may as well give up and go build in niche areas.


They are given the opportunity to participate. It seems that most people don't want the "opportunity to participate" rather than "demand to be #1" just because they are a small business.

It reminds me a lot about the "support the local small business" deal. Every time I decide to give the local small business a shot, I am met with “Sorry, we don't have it in stock, but I can order it for you. It will come in 10 days, then you have to come back and pick it up”...Sorry, buddy, I can order it myself and have it at my door steps tomorrow.

What I mean is “WHY” should “YOU” show up above a big brand?!?

So far all I've heard is in the lines of “My small website ranks below the big brands”. Sounds about right to me, I personally, as a search engine user, have always preferred the “big brand”. At least with them I know where we stand, I know they may have offline presence, etc.
Now, that said, I do a lot of buying from small online places, but I have arrived there not through Google, but through other people's recommendations and/or the effort of the small buiness owner to win me over as customer. Almost none of those websites show anywhere decent on Google, yet I 'm sure they are making serious bank.

Bottom line, is your business 100% dependent on Google? Then you have it made – the rules are very simple:
1. Get lots of links
2. Get good content*.
* #2 is not really necessary.

santapaws




msg:4562529
 9:55 pm on Apr 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

atlrus, what if you are not shopping? Not everyone using google is buying something.
Your rules also dont work in the same way for all sites which i think is what led to this thread.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4562644
 8:17 am on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

atlrus, you're right if you're shopping for commodity products that are available everywhere. But to be honest, if you're a small business selling commodity products - where essentially you're selling the very same product as thousands of other sellers including big brand sellers - you're not really offering anything unique anyway. What of companies that offer services? Or bespoke products?

atlrus




msg:4562716
 2:20 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

atlrus, you're right if you're shopping for commodity products that are available everywhere. But to be honest, if you're a small business selling commodity products - where essentially you're selling the very same product as thousands of other sellers including big brand sellers - you're not really offering anything unique anyway. What of companies that offer services? Or bespoke products?


Services are just the same, whether a product is tangible or not, it's still a product someone is trying to sell.
I focused on tangible products, since JCP and some flower website were given as an example earlier in the thread. In the end, every website is selling something, be it a product, service or just ad clicks/views.

Your rules also don't work in the same way for all sites which i think is what led to this thread.


Because they are not all the same websites. I, who doesn't like Google much, cannot blame them for giving JCP priority review over designer-hand-bags-now-buy.info
Google has finite resources and will prioritize just like if the local fire station got two calls, one that a house is on fire and the other that your cat is stuck on a tree. Sure, to you your cat may seem as #1 priority, but guess where the fire brigade will go...

Yeah, you think your website is better, but is it really? Should your high school newspaper rank higher than CNN for "news", since it offers unique news content not found anywhere else?
Yet, the high school paper has better chance to rank for "CityName high school news" than CNN.

Horses for courses, they say. I can honestly say that in my sector no one is getting preferential treatment.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4562764
 4:25 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Services are just the same, whether a product is tangible or not, it's still a product someone is trying to sell.
I focused on tangible products, since JCP and some flower website were given as an example earlier in the thread. In the end, every website is selling something, be it a product, service or just ad clicks/views.


atlrus, when I meant services, I'm talking about non-commodity "products" here. The service you get greatly depends on the company you choose. Not so with commodity products - you know what you're going to get.

Because they are not all the same websites. I, who doesn't like Google much, cannot blame them for giving JCP priority review over designer-hand-bags-now-buy.info


Sure, because designer-hand-bags-now-buy.info is going to be some thin-affiliate / commodity product seller. There is no real "value add" as they like to say. However, compare JCP to a small boutique shop that may have rare / hard to find handbags, you can't say the same for that site. Sure, the boutique shop might have lousy customer service, but it's not offering something that I would consider a commodity.

I keep coming back to commodity products because that's where - in my opinion - big brands should be loved by Google. They fulfill those kinds of products the best. They scale up, and sell at good value, and fulfill delivery reliably.

When it comes to services / bespoke products, I think smaller companies could be better represented in the SERPs.

Whitey




msg:4562900
 12:51 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sure, because designer-hand-bags-now-buy.info is going to be some thin-affiliate / commodity product seller. There is no real "value add" as they like to say.

I think it's time to redefine "value-add" into those three buckets that Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal described - brand ; small/medium ; SPAM.

Which bucket are you referring to on this example. SPAM?

Some huge business' [ in terms of financial market captilization ] I see, provide nothing but aggregated data onto a website, not even original reviews - typical in meta search, with pretty average user experience. They have no need for customer service, shipping or support. But they do have a corporate identity and a huge marketing budget, which includes TV, PR, digital etc etc.

The website is their customer service. And you can't measure comparisons on the granular data, because it's not there to compare in side by side e.g. terms and conditions ; finer product nuances etc. So really the websites are not that great versus what can be achieved at small/medium level.

So how do such brands get a "pass"?

Sometimes I think brands have gone through an editorial quality check in major verticals on an international and regional level, and unless those editors become aware of mainstream brand promotions of some scale to change their minds, they may never change the order of ranking left to the algo afforded to the small/medium bucket.

That's not to say Google is ignoring strong "signals", such as has been suggested earlier in this thread, which probably compliment the editorial QA. But I think one may have priority over the other.

Panda / Penguin, IMO, were aggressive actions to redefine sites into those three buckets from an algorthimic viewpoint. There is no evidence of reports on any scale of sites leaping out of those buckets, even where large amounts of remedial work has been done.

So I think at the high end of the food chain, there must be an editorial component with a "flag" constantly under review to allow, or not allow business' with sites into the brand categorization bucket.

Ersebet




msg:4562916
 2:00 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great explanation I read that Google now pay-2-play are results with shopping [searchengineland.com...]
Now with results with lot of money Google do pay-2-play but silent, Panda and Penguin to punish small sites. More money Google made from large brands and large brand advertiser of Google, so they get traffic from Google. Google no care about organic serp with many ads show, most main focus is user use ads, not organic.

Small/medium business' need to be given the opportunity to participate and not be given up for dead as MC indicated, when he stated that those folks in large verticals may as well give up and go build in niche areas.

"Should" no matter, becase Google care about Google and money making ads. I no long love Google, now only ads and advertiser on top serp.

CainIV




msg:4562985
 5:43 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, it's complete BS to say Google does not favor "big brands" unless they start to provide this type of answer for everyone now that a "big brand" has received a very granular answer since no one else, to my knowledge, has ever received this granular level of reply from a Google Rep.


Agree wholeheartedly. If Google didn't like big brands, they wouldn't like

1. Companies that place value in the consumer - everyday

2. Companies that can and do churn out stellar content - everyday

3. Companies that by nature of site pick up natural links - everyday

4. Companies that have massive current amounts of unique content, further cementing their dominance in place.

5. Companies that get tons and tons of daily searches for their own brand name.

5. Companies that are, many times at the forefront of the newest changes in marketing channels including SEO.

We could go on and on, and some could note the chicken and the egg here, but the fact is that larger businesses that become success brands are in fact favored in the search engines, if not merely for the reasons above.

And to be honest I don't mind it, sometimes. Where it becomes ridiculous is in specific niches like travel where particular brand portals dominate the SERPs - even if the user experience, uniqueness and customer service of a particular provide is 10X better.

I see this a lot, in fact now, where big brands simply replace SERPs that really should be awarding more original and innovative companies driving great customer experience (and they are there - often simply listed below the "giants")

Fantastic customer service from a portal should never replace fantastic customer service from a unique family-built company residing in a town, who has owned a business for 10+ years. And this is a major part of the problem in my eyes.

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