Whitey - 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.