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Why Big Brands are Squeezing out the Little Guy on Google



1:48 pm on May 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I run a 10 year old information site and I never did much link building. My site gets mentioned on the odd news site and blog post but most of my link backs came from users who would link to my content in comments and forum posts on other sites.

My site did get hit by Penguin back in April of 2012 and lost 20% of its traffic. To date though it is closer to 50%.

Over the last few years many webmasters trying to fix Panda and Penguin problems have decided to treat all outbound links from user posts as the same and add a nofollow to the link (it is automatic in most CMSs now anyways). While I understand why they do this (you get to the point where you will try anything) and I have been very tempted to follow suit, I have not. I instead review the link and approve them as they are posted.

Looking at most websites now, outbound links that are not directly in an article or blog post usually has the nofollow attribute. Most users do not have a website so for them to express their opinion on anything they either post comments, forum posts, or use social media.

Google has said they do not use many Social Media cues to rank a site. Most forum posts and comments if they contain links have a nofollow attribute. Because of this, it means Google really doesn’t listen to users opinions anymore by seeing what they link to. They only listen to news sites and website owners (through what they post about)

I realize that comment and forum link spam was out of control but by Google pushing nofollow, webmasters have gone with the “it’s better to be safe than sorry” approach.

To me the nofollow attribute has been a failure. Google needs to tackle this from a different approach and they need to start tracking social networking cues better since now days that is where users are heading when they have an opinion on something.

While big brands links are not counted anymore either in comment and forum posts they obviously are mentioned much more on news sites and in blog posts. Google has said they do not favor big brands. That may be technically true but with the nofollow attribute and webmasters running scared it is happening anyways.


2:53 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

So Google will be banning small businesses from using Adwords soon, right?

They already do, in some cases.


4:19 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Congress seemed to look at Adwords and organic SERPs very differently because Adwords is the whole of how Google makes money, and they have a legal right to make money within legal bounds (US politicians are incredibly pro-big business.) They didn't like dodgy pharamacies taking out Adwords ads, but rather than expect Google to screen the companies individually, they preferred Google just not let anyone bid for those keyphrases. Google complied.

I believe the difference in Congress' eyes is that in the US, advertisers are allowed to be pretty deceptive (unlike in the UK, where they have to disclose such things as a mascara model wearing false lashes in a commercial to boost the effects of the mascara). The onus is on consumers not to get fooled (caveat emptor). So if folks are clicking Adsense and getting ripped off, that's down to their own lack of due diligence (American attitude).


6:22 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I can imagine Google ranking blogs with very-out-dated Wordpress versions lower simply because they're vulnerable.

I work with one site that got a warning message in WMT about that very issue.


11:48 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google is just mirroring the outside world, corporate brands took over the high street and now are taking over the web. Google is no longer dependant on small business as large players have now come to the table.

Google are business, so the small guy gets squeezed out, its the way of the world. It's called capitalism and Google are a very capitalistic company.

We enjoyed an era where start ups could grow in a free market but now its back to reality.


12:56 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

there are around 4.8 million small to medium size businesses in the UK emplying 23.9 million people, and account for 99.9% of the private sector ( ref: [fsb.org.uk...] ).

@seoskunk - so what about this? And multiply it by 5 for the US [ 27M ? [census.gov...] ], then again by some factor for the rest of the World.

Innovation will never cease. Old ideas will, and that's what a lot of folks are having to come to terms with. I just happen to think that Google is doing a bad job of looking after small/medium business visibility - and that's the opportunity for them to either respond or get the heckles up by the majority of business' wanting a solution.

If all Google is going to be is a big brand engine, it is clearly going to run into problems as the majority of business' want more of the pie. All business has access to technology now, and it will only increase as will the levels of competition, inclusiveness and the growth of ideas. Ultimately the user responds to the offer and where that offer is seen.


11:51 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

If all Google is going to be is a big brand engine

However that is not what they have stated is it? They have said they want to be a knowledge engine which is a far different thing in my view.

Quite how they will differentiate queries remains to be seen however I feel fairly sure they will have some good and possibly revolutionary ideas.

If it works for ALL widgets is another thing altogether, for instance I own 50+ totally exclusive product lines but at present my sites get mixed-up among wholesale sites, retail sites plus competing for SERPs space against eBay, Amazon and Home Depot type sites.

I'm sure this happens across many industries therefore how would Google's Knowledge Engine differentiate between these sites?

List me as #1 being the original?
List a Chinese customer as being the #1 global processor?
List a successful eBay seller?
List Home Depot as a large retail outlet?

And not all of this raw product goes into making one thing only, it is made into hundreds of different finished products both standard and bespoke.

The last thing I either need or want is lots of retail enquiries from all over the workd simply because people cannot find what they are looking for on their version of the Google Knowledge Engine ... Welcome to the world of Bing!


12:13 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

from all over the workd

Ooops ... from all over the world ...


4:37 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Its scales of economy -small business cannot compete with big brands. Besides a little favoritism to the Brands by Google (helps their revenue stream and probably some trademark issues), small business wont get the same amount of direct domain requests, follows on twitter, likes on facebook, links in news articles, links in blog posts and on and on... Small business has no chance..


4:06 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

DS: Why is Panda large-brand focused?

MC: It’s not large-brand focused.

DS: Why not?

MC: We look at all the data we have. We don’t target brands.

There's a watershed of communication coming from Matt Cutt's at SMX at the moment. It may morph into separate topics/threads discussions shortly.

Subjects include, revelations on Panda, managing link tidy up's for Penguin penalty etc, mobile site penalty for slow sites, spam queries and more.

The one thing that strikes me is that only sites with a lot of resource and expertise will easily deal with these changes quickly. So strategically, from Google's viewpoint, removing sites from the SERP's that fell into the non brand bucket [ not the SPAM bucket, which are gone in major verticals ], would seem logical, if not intentional as a step towards better search quality.

The issues I believe, are, that this may greatly stifle the middle tier of webmasters and siteowners from introducing innovation, and lead to domination and polarization of results to a very few sites, which themselves may consolidate amongst themselves, providing ultimately less choice.

The other issue is that many sites from regions and topics around the World need to be allowed different dynamics to surface. A site outside the US / Western Europe etc , or e.g. a charity may not have the same resources to surface with sufficient quality in results.

It will be interesting to see how the next step, if it occurs, will balance the big brands with smaller business and sites. No doubt Google has to be mindful of building a diversification with quality - I guess we'll have to see how smaller web business responds.


4:49 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

providing ultimately less choice

Google will not be able to keep these kinds of SERPs for long unless they decided to show only few brands on their results and leave the peanuts for the rest. It won't stay as it is now because it makes a mess on the search results and require a shifted/biased algorithm.


7:56 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The one thing that strikes me is that only sites with a lot of resource and expertise will easily deal with these changes quickly.

IF this is true, this is crazy. Google should not be making running a site more difficult with each of its updates. Let webmasters focus on their content and their customers. I'm not discounting fundamentals by the way like clean markup, responsive design, fast loading pages etc - but to ADD to those with Google-specific "requirements" is ridiculous - it's putting the average guy at a disadvantage unless he moves resources away from content creation to following MC's every word and reacting to what MC says Google likes. And yet, the guidelines say to run your site as if search engines don't exist?


8:09 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

@ColourOfSpring - hmmm , I'm kinda liking this video from Matt Cutts about how to adjust the old mindset to the new with respect to brand positioning, focusing on the user experience, and forget about the old style of SEO which was more links, more cookie cutter content.

What are some misconceptions in the SEO industry? [youtube.com...]

Does this help? Do you think site owners can pick a target area for improvement without being overwhelmed? Today's and recent comms. from MC were like the release of years of blockage. Phenomenal IMO.

They're even looking to roll back in some gray area sites that were hit by Panda. Do you think Google can work better with small / medium sites to transition delivery of better user experience?


8:56 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I like to believe that G does still have the 'information democracy revolution' at heart. I think the task they've taken on has them currently overwhelmed.

In their bid to remove all sites using signals to game the system, they've overstepped hugely. Their algo became too complex and resulted in a new gameable pattern of its own.

I've never seen a time (correct me if I'm wrong) when simultaneously so many senior and junior webmasters were complaining that things are 'broken'. This is very different from the "i'm not in the top 10" crowd.

Will google start listening to webmasters again? If they had a reliable, efficient way to collate our feedback they could have seen some pretty startling patterns emerging before this happened.

As pointed out earlier, if this had been done right brands could have gone the PPC route, they're happy working like that, they have the resources. SME / lesser brand mixes could have dominated the organic results.

Somebody earlier pointed out that 'users want brands' - there's data saying that's no longer true. Brands have to fight for their survival more and more each day.

The world is looking for 'information', long term that always wins.
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