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[edited by: tedster at 6:04 pm (utc) on Aug 1, 2012]
...Big Brands don't need exposure in google or bing or whatever, in other words should it be a better user experience to become search engines a tool for information instead of site maps of a, b, c or d sites?
I believe the new PR update will follow with new SERPs
I think you're onto something key here. A recent Forrester report showed that 30% of all online shoppers start at Amazon to research products. In contrast, Google attracted only 13% as the first stop for product research. This is big change from 2009, when Google led Amazon 24% to 18%.
Google MUST see this shift and one reason for the "brand" emphasis we've been seeing this year may be a reflection of this preference among consumers.
Google does not need to make an intentional decision to emphasize "brands". All they need to do is build an algorithm that pays attention to what their users prefer, and brands would naturally get stronger results. This would not be because "Google hates small businesses" but rather because their users love businesses that they've already heard good things about.
I believe there is a designed bias for brands, though, obviously for profits.
I just look at the sites on page 1 these days with the view that every site is there because people like them most (as opposed to google liking them most).
its time google cleaned it up