ColourOfSpring - 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....