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It may also be a strong clue of an update in the algo, specific corporate registered trademarks / copyright names being weeded out if found to bring up SERPs higher than the owners own sites. If that is the case, it does make sense when referring to the corporate SERPs shake-up talked about here in the last six months or so.
I don't think this suggests a mild penalty, but rather, trademark owners have priority I guess, unlike using PPC which is not allowed anyway!
I have not checked other sites, anyone seen this phenomenon for other authority sites?
Just an observation!
They're taking the site links from anchor text, and then truncating them in this case.
It's becoming a bit more obvious that they're using anchor text of links for site links, particularly in one case I've seen where there's a grammar error in site navigation that's been picked up verbatim: widget's (possessive) instead of widgets for the plural. From that same site homepage they used the alt= text of a graphic link as a site link.
If the mods allow it (I've used this one before - nobody here owns it), check out the site links for a search for chrysler trucks [google.com]
Chrysler doesn't make trucks under their brand, they're Dodge, which is a Chrysler Corp. division. Notice the anchor text in the links under the photograph of the truck on the Dodge.com homepage: It's just the model name like Ram 1500, not Dodge Ram 1500. That's like the anchor text, not the on-page or page title factors. It kind of looks truncated without the brand name, though it is a different trademark even though it's the same parent corporation.
Yep, it sure does look like attention to and omitting trademarked brand names, doesn't it? Interesting, as is what looks like increased use and/or weight of image alt= text.
Added: come to think of it, Charger, Ram, etc. are also trademarked - they just aren't the major big brand company name.
Yes Marcia, another hint for me to dismiss the Algorithmic theory and favor the "manual" intervention, when you search for "chrysler trucks" without quotes, you get the dodge site with its sitelinks, though from the title there is no chryster and the description has only one, but the surprise is on the page itself or cache, there the phrase "Dodge is a registered trademark of Chrysler Group LLC. ® Copyright 2009 Chrysler Group LLC" tells all.
That alone is not enough, one may assume there should not be any difficulty to have algo functions to work out that chryser owns dodge and if you are looking for "chrysler trucks", they are "dodge trucks" (Chrysler doesn't make trucks under their brand as you say Marcia), however, those functions must be based on a large database of 100s of thousands of patents / registered trademarks from which the relevancy is worked out, RATHER than from BL / titles or any other SERP or indexed links. The conclusion (assumed) would have to be:
- Any trademarked keyword / phrase that is a NAME of a corporation / company is treated in a special way and prioritized
- When searched for alone or with one or two terms, if those terms are proprietary, then it does not make any difference and the result should be the company / corporation's web site that should rank first.
- If one or more of the terms is non-proprietary, then look for normal SERPs, backlinks, trustrank and the rest of the relevancy algo.
So, "apple computers" should bring apple.com, but for "apple growing", it would be silly, though bringing a page about the computer manufacturer's annual growth would to some small extent be acceptable-ish, but the relevancy would be down the pan (99% of the time is apple trees what is sought here)!
Now that's G*!
Bing has the ad-hoc differently and still relies on SERPs and its index for ranking, see for yourself, it may look more relevant than the G* result and whoever is looking for chrysler trucks is probably equally happy with the results, the difference is whoever has authority and proprietary ownership is prioritized by G* but NOT YET by Bing!
For example, if a search for "FamousName widget spares" only returned listings showing "widget spares" the searcher could be reduced to retrying the search until it comes good or could be trawling through sites at random trying to find the correct one amongst sites that only mention the brand in passing: assuming google hasn't lumped all widgets together, in which case it would be an impossible search.
There are good reasons to protect brand names but I'm not sure google will get it right if they are seriously attempting it, as in the OP, for example, where it is a fairly important descriptor.
Google gets a lot wrong and web site owners always suffer, often by losing trade and in some cases losing their complete business. There has to be a better way. :(