| 3:31 am on Mar 13, 2013 (gmt 0)|
I would guess it happens more than we think, but it could definitely look like brands have an inherent advantage even if they don't.
What I mean is when I look at the big brand sites they generally have the latest user interfaces, top notch design, the most up to date or close HTML, the best or very very good organization and a bunch of little things deep pockets can probably afford to do easier on a site than most people, so I personally think he's telling the truth when he says the advantage isn't brands in general, but with deep pockets comes the ability to be all over things others may not have time for, make time for, or be able to afford and when the difference in "scoring" between 1 and 11 is probably .1% or less the little things that "don't count for much" can make all the difference in my opinion.
Another way to say it or look at it is: There are 200+ ranking factors using 200 as a nice round number, if 190 are equal and the brands can hit 10 of the time consuming or expensive or seemingly unimportant factors just a bit better who wins the tie breaker the site with the deep pockets and the teams of people working on them or the site with one or two people who just don't have time, cash or maybe even the knowledge to do the same thing?
Things like that custom server making a site just a bit faster the brand likely has instead of a shared host. The HTML5, schema.org, ajax implementations that can make a site a bit more focused or understandable to an algo. Possibly the 5 (or however many) different designs or flexibility of design for different screen sizes that's time consuming and difficult to implement but generates a slightly better behavior from a certain sub-set of visitors.
There are so many little thing they can do better based on the cash they have to spend they might not have an inherent advantage but at the same time I think they definitely have an advantage simply due to the level they can afford to build a site on where many cannot.
So, do they have an inherent advantage based on name? I sort of doubt it.
Do they have an advantage on depth of pockets and what they can put into a site over most people? I don't see how they couldn't.
| 6:18 am on Mar 13, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Big brands can do whatever they want; even more if they have millionary campaigns in Adwords.
As always, you should read Matt Cuts with a grain of salt. He's only a PR from Google and what he says is that what Google should do, not what really does. It makes him to seem a bit silly but that what he's paid for.
| 6:49 am on Mar 13, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|you should read Matt Cuts with a grain of salt |
Definitely. He doesn't make all the decisions; it's his job to justify them.
Big brands certainly do seem to get preferential treatment in one area: penalties. The most recent was publicly slapped to send a message, then let off after, oh, er, 10 days?
| 5:12 am on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|He's only a PR from Google... It makes him to seem a bit silly but that what he's paid for. |
So why did they put his name on this patent then? [patft.uspto.gov...]
And this one: [patft.uspto.gov...]
And this one: [patft.uspto.gov...]
And this one: [patft.uspto.gov...]
| 10:36 am on Mar 14, 2013 (gmt 0)|
The majority of pages the big brands have, invariably, at the top of the subjects I'm interested in are just doorway pages with links to other sites (which are way down in the SERPs and usually packed with information) which actually provide the advertised products or services. By any quality based standards these brandspam affiliate pages would be way out of sight.
| 4:05 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Guess this kinda belongs here - BBC gets an unnatural links notice. Good luck figuring out which.
| 5:18 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Lol...If I had to choose between Google and the BBC it would be the BBC every time.
More fud from G.
| 5:49 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)|
I sure wish the BBC would have told google to p*ss off. The more penalties google hands out the fewer good results in the serps there will be.
| 9:10 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|big sites often do not like to talk about it. So it happens a lot |
Well here's a brand that was open about "it". But I can't imagine a site like this would ever receive a penalty.
If backlinks are going to be part of the upcoming major Penguin update [webmasterworld.com...] and if part of the process is collecting data from the dissavow tool adjustments, you'd have to think that sites like the BBC would be exempted by sheer weight of global brand authority.
It makes me wonder who hasn't received a links notice and if so why.
| 1:42 am on Mar 17, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Ermm yep they do
| 9:57 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
| 10:14 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|I mean, if you can't trust the BBC from a link quality point of view, who can you trust? (Fox News folks, relax) |
|Friday we broke the story that the BBC received a Google link notification of unnatural links. |
They received a "blanket notice" when the reality was it was only unnatural links to One Page out of 268,000 indexed. Talk about f'ing FUD!
Makes me wonder how many site owners over-react to the notices they receive, disavow everything and in the process tank themselves by essentially saying "most of these links don't count"? Hmmm... Maybe a bit of granularity to all webmasters the same as the BBC got would be in order here.
Something like "we found unnatural links to N pages or N% of your site" would likely be clarification enough for webmasters to "chase" and "fix" an issue but not "give too much away" about what specifically triggers the notice/penalty.
Unreal FUD they've been spewing via WMT.
Makes me very glad I refuse to use it.
The lack of insight into webmaster reactions about these notices makes me think it's quite a bit like the "not selected" bs they decided to display for a while, which only caused fear, uncertainty and doubt, oh, wait, that means the not selected was the definition of FUD! too.
| 10:29 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Oh, and what no one else has pointed out yet, so I will myself, is I stand corrected and "big brands" obviously do have an upper hand since JohnMu took the time to research why a major brand (the BBC) received an unnatural links notice, but I don't see him taking that kind of time and doing that kind of research for everyone who receives one, which he should if there's not favoritism or partiality from Google's side of things.
He made Matt Cutts look like a complete liar on this one, but I don't blame MC specifically for that, because I doubt he had any way of knowing JohnMu was going to do this for one specific brand and not everyone receiving a notice when he made the statement, but JohnMu represents Google as much as MC does, so Google definitely "went out of their way" for a major brand in a manner they do not for everyone.
Hopefully Matt Cutts will eventually retract the statement or find a way to include everyone with the granularity of information the BBC received from Google (via JohnMu) otherwise his statement will go down in history as complete BS because it is.
Not one single webmaster I've read reporting on an unnatural link notice has received the granular answer the BBC did, what they have received is basically generic, vague, and, since it's not the "desired reply or a desired e-mail" it's essentially a spam answer from Google.
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.
| 11:19 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
For years Google has been looking for ways to adjust the algorithm to give higher rankings to big brands. Even if they knew that such an adjustment would hurt the overall quality of the search results, they were still willing to implement it. The final result is that a bias in favor of big brands is built into the algorithm itself. And it's a very strong bias.
| 11:23 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Litmus test to whether Google favours big brands or not: Has their ever been a big brand that has been penalised by Google for literally years like a lot of small businesses have? I can't think of one. Interflora's penalty lasted 11 days, for example.
| 11:44 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Google didn't disclose which page of the BBC was penalized.
J.C. Penney Penalty was lifted - although i noticed @Netmeg mentioned a belief that not all rankings may have returned to previous capacity.
|Responding to several questions about J.C. Penney, Cutts confirmed our report earlier this week that the penalty was lifted after 90 days. |
“We saw a valid reconsideration request” from JCP, Cutts said, and explained that, after reviewing the request, Google found that the company “did quite a bit of work to cleanup what had been going on. You don’t want to be vindictive or punitive, so after three months the penalty was lifted.” He later added, “I think the penalty was tough and the appropriate length.” [searchengineland.com...]
It's important to note the resource required to clean up and communicate effectively with Google favors brands. Brands are also a good PR reference and communications tool to leverage from all sides involved.
| 11:53 pm on Mar 18, 2013 (gmt 0)|
One thing I try to keep in mind with regard to a site like JCP or BMW is they're expected to be seen in the results by searchers, and they do such a high volume and rank so highly across a number of terms even a short-term penalty could cost them more $$$ than "regular sites".
I'm not saying they don't have an "advantage", but the "cost per day penalized" is likely much greater for a brand (and Google for not including them) than it is for penalizing a "regular site" for a longer period of time.
It would be really interesting to see how much the 90 day penalty cost JCP in sales and how that "stacks up" against the sales of most sites penalized for a longer period of time.
| 12:06 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)|
TOI, well certainly there's been a lot of small businesses that have either gone completely bust, or made lots of staff redundant (see various members of WebmasterWorld) when they've been kicked into the long grass for years. I wonder how many people were made redundant at JCP or BMW or Interflora? The companies themselves certainly survived the penalties - can't say the same for the SMBs that get hit.
| 12:22 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)|
It's worth revisiting this video from Matt Cutts on lifting penalties [youtube.com...]
Here and in other instances, MC mentions that for some sites, where remedial steps are too difficult to action, it might be better to start again. In the case of Interflora it was easy for a large resourced company to identify the tactics and placements of offending links, and/or take down the offending recipient landing pages and re index new URL's as another option.
| 12:35 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)|
If big brands don't have an advantage, then ask stub pages, yahoo answers and ehow must ranking due to sheer editorial excellence :rolls eyes:
It is obvious to anyone that has been monitoring data over the last several years that large brands receive a significant advantage, from shorter penalties and glossed over penalties to rankings for terms they aren't remotely relevant for and nearly fixed page 1 for tough phrases when their profiles are weaker than non-brands. Oh yeah, and googlers will actually look I to allegations of big brands when something funky happens. If one our smaller sites has the same issue, we're branded as evil spammers first and have to prove we aren't...two-faced policies.
| 8:12 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|Here and in other instances, MC mentions that for some sites, where remedial steps are too difficult to action, it might be better to start again |
Whitey, I remember that MC comment. I think his comment does not reflect actual reality for many many cases out there. I've had one site that had barely any links pointing to it - it was punished in March 2012, and remains so to this day. My remedial action? I removed all of its links in March 2012 (not that hard as it was relatively new site, and not many links) - good and bad links (in my eyes) removed, submitted a reconsideration request confident that a site with literally - LITERALLY - ZERO links pointing to it should get a clean bill of health. I got back "we still see links...." - rinse and repeat several times over (several months over) including me asking where ahrefs and opensiteexplorer and GWT were missing these links that you're not liking.....get back the exact same canned response. It's like engaging with an unreasonable person - after a while you have to give up because they're just operating on another level to you. That's actually the scariest part for me. Google have all that power AND can be incredibly unreasonable at the same time. Not a great combination.
With Interflora, the scale of their link building was enormous - it wasn't just the paid advertorials - they were doing article marketing on a grand scale too across thousands of privately owned blogs. I doubt they would have (or will be) able to get all or even half of those removed without the good will of thousands of blog owners. And yet their penalty was lifted in 11 days.
So to sum up, reality is a lot murkier than Matt Cutts likes to portray. It's not a cut and dry "do A and Google will do B" negotiation process. If you get a penalty, you have to worry that it's actually a de facto permanent ban from ranking well regardless of your remedial efforts.
| 10:53 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Of course big brands have an advantage. That advantage starts with their financial ability to buy links, develop on-topic supporting websites for linking purposes and employing the staff to properly manage these sophisticated link building tasks. Because big brands have the financial capabilities to employ sophisticated link building schemes, they generally maintain control over the links that they create. Small businesses are more likely to participate in link building techniques that leave their links on websites that they do not have full control over. Once caught, the big brands can take down the links they created rather quickly.
Not only are big brands capable of removing their paid/built links quickly, once caught, but the reconsideration requests they send to Google are clearly reviewed much faster than small businesses. And the overall penalties these big brands receive for manipulating the SERPS with backlinks, in many cases, are not fitting for the level of sophistication used.
To say that big brands do not have the upper hand over small businesses is inaccurate. One need not look any further than how Google recently applied penalties, lifted penalties and responded to big brands in public to see this advantage.
| 2:52 am on Mar 21, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|If one our smaller sites has the same issue, we're branded as evil spammers first and have to prove we aren't...two-faced policies. |
My guess is that high profile sites receive attention because they get publicity. However, I've no reason to doubt Matt Cutt's words that a lot of big sites don't talk about it.
On balance, an editor from Google would surely say, for something like the BBC , this is a huge site with great reputation and a large staff. We're not going to hold the penalty for minor breaches of guidelines.
Where the reputation of a website is not publically known, and there is an inbalance between real reputation, popularity and breaches of the guidelines [ particularily links, poor content distinguishment ], the smaller site will have trouble getting attention from Google. Realistically, there are probably 10's of 1000's of reconsideration requests a day and not all of them will receive [ perhaps ] the degree of consideration big sites do.
Filing a reconsideration, in the minds of a smaller reputation site, exposes them to risk of editorial whims which fall outside of guidelines and may invite discretion - I don't know how disciplined Google is on the manual front, or how accurate my statement is - but survival can scare good webmasters and siteowners from being entirely honest. For that part Google could probably do more to build community involvement through authenticated processes to better infom individual site owners that demonstrate good intent, or the willingness to change.
Small website owners, are very often hoodwinked by a section of SEO advisors into shelling out money for bad practices. It irritates Google, good SEO's and well intentioned siteowners. Big brands can more easily deal with that by sheer enormity of pressure to correct.
The filing of mass notices of linking violations, where only one page is offending is probably an overkill and causes a lot of unecessary angst for folks who are trying to compete yet comply efficiently. In particular small sites, or an employee in a large organisation.
If Google is now baking in alernatives to links, in the form of UI, quality , brand signals , social authentication it has sufficient commercial cover to be more open about helping siteowners to compete and better administer more adequately in a democratic web . This is probably important to support it's marketing mantra, creating a reactive, vibrant and fresh search experience, especially in areas it wants to encourage participation in.
I do think Google could receive a benefit by further encouraging small site owners to participate at grass roots level, at the same time as it's trying to grow it's business and product. A big brand web, with only Google assetts could become boring.
Special note on context - Matt was referring to penalties. I digressed a bit.
| 11:41 pm on Mar 21, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, said on Hacker News, "we were tackling a spammer and inadvertently took action on the root page of digg.com." |
Google released an official statement as well:
"We're sorry about the inconvenience this morning to people trying to search for Digg. In the process of removing a spammy submitted link on Digg.com, we inadvertently applied the webspam action to the whole site. We're correcting this, and the fix should be deployed shortly." [seroundtable.com...]
A timely example that errors do occur, but may not be treated equally unless you're a brand.
| 12:44 am on Mar 22, 2013 (gmt 0)|
Matt Cutt say what benefits Google, not us. Matt Cutt and Google also say that SERPs best results for users but we know that SERPs are best for Google pocket.
| 1:01 am on Mar 22, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|In the process of removing a spammy submitted link on Digg.com |
I don't understand what this means. It seems to say that Google was trying to remove a Digg page from the SERPs instead of removing the spammer's page that the link pointed to. Maybe my brain isn't working right now, but what am I missing?
| 1:42 am on Mar 22, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|Matt Cutts: Here's the official statement from Google: "We're sorry about the inconvenience this morning to people trying to search for Digg. In the process of removing a spammy submitted link on Digg.com, we inadvertently applied the webspam action to the whole site. We're correcting this, and the fix should be deployed shortly." |
From talking to the relevant engineer, I think digg.com should be fully back in our results within 15 minutes or so. After that, we'll be looking into what protections or process improvements would make this less likely to happen in the future.
Added: I believe Digg is fully back now.
A fuller transcript from Google. Lots of traffic involved with Digg, so probably fair play. But it does demonstrate what can go missing lower down the food chain.
| 4:16 am on Mar 22, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|Of course big brands have an advantage. That advantage starts with their financial ability to buy links, develop on-topic supporting websites for linking purposes and employing the staff to properly manage these sophisticated link building tasks. |
There are certainly other advantages. As others here have observed (but in different language) big brands have an advantage because GOOGLE NEEDS THEM in addition to their need for Google. They got into that position by doing lots of things right. In many cases, these are physical world businesses rather than exclusively online.
Even those that only conduct business online often do a lot of offline advertising and brand awareness building. The percentage of navigational searches that they get is often way beyond the level that other more "ordinary" sites get. In fact, trying to get significant non-navigational traffic can be the factor that triggers their violations of Google's guidelines in the first place.
| 8:37 am on Mar 22, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|A timely example that errors do occur, but may not be treated equally unless you're a brand. |
I wonder how many times Google have messed up with small business websites and NOT corrected these mess ups? Just too busy to manually check those reconsideration requests I guess.
|As others here have observed (but in different language) big brands have an advantage because GOOGLE NEEDS THEM in addition to their need for Google. They got into that position by doing lots of things right. In many cases, these are physical world businesses rather than exclusively online. |
I get your point on navigational searches tedster. We see these big brands everywhere outside of Google and search for them online. However, remember Google's unique selling point? Their indexing power - to be able to show you the ENTIRE internet, up to date. It was Google's ability to show you those obscure sites as well as the branded sites. Their brand-favouring shrinks this down to perhaps 10,000-15,000 popular sites. Any competitor can come up with a commercial search engine that can EASILY match that and then some. Sure Google are also including some smaller sites into the commercial searches too, but the brands are getting more and more coverage - far more than even just 12 months ago. If Google keep going like this, someone might as well come up with a shopping search engine that gives more variety than Google does, and it WON'T be hard to do. Google are still way ahead in terms of long tail / non-commercial searches of course.
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