Whitey - 10:43 pm on Apr 14, 2013 (gmt 0) [edited by: Whitey at 11:51 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2013]
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be only focusing on organic as bringing value to the searcher. I'm very sure Google would want to shape visitor behaviour if it benefits the visitor.
There are huge search verticals where Google may see no value at all in supporting organic searches instead steering users onto Adwords and Google assets. (There was a day when Ads would be visually separate on the page, now they merge ). Google maps is one very powerful asset for example for geo related searches. Brands typically dominate here, with Ad spend.
The trend has been that Google will eliminate organics from assets, where there is no user advantage and a commercial disadvantage to Google.
In the same manner, I wouldn't be surprised if in some e-commerce verticals we don't see the elimination of organics from the first page in favour of brands in advertising and assets. Provided they all contribute to Google's bottom line more directly. Google's not in this game to give what they perceive as a free run.
I mean why show A=Amazon [ per previous post on Google suggest ] in the organics when A can pay and the user is happy?
My speculation is that Google is positioning brands in current organics as a strategic step to forcing them, as big spenders to pay more further down the track on paid searches.
Small/medium sites where brands dominate are just not heavily enough into this game to be considered as anything more than backfill by Google.
But something big is in play with Brands, and IMO the intensity of strategic focus is firmly on them, with collateral damage likely through the upcoming major Penguin update as Google cements this direction into a final basic platform, to enact the next stage.
Matt Cutts was gracious enough to signal the areas where he believed the internet provided opportunity against brands in the OT , and has kinda signalled that competing in mature areas was gone unless a business has mega resources.
IMO for SEO's to be effective in the new realm, of small/medium business' and their sites, up against brands, they are going to have to be much better marketers, and rely less on "tricks" - such as cookie cutter content and links. The extent of consultation is going to matter much more about effective technical enablement/management, UI/service on the back of effective campaigning. And that's a good thing, because done well, it helps build brand from areas of opportunity left untouched by the big brands.
@Cain1V - 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")
Food for thought.
[edited by: Whitey at 11:51 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2013]