07 May 2010

Google brands displace the little guy

By now you know that Google has added brand names to the top of the SERPs on searches for products such as “digital cameras.”
This makes major brands easier to be found in the SERPs (since they are at the top), and it could be useful for people searching for a big brand product to purchase.
But I worry about what this will do to the little guy.
Personalized search already made it so that highly-ranked sites would be able to continue to rank highly if you follow the logic that people click on the high rankings and by doing so that would make the result more popular and would thus keep it higher in said personalized rankings.
Now the little guy must also fight against big brands that really don’t need much help to begin with. They are getting artificially high placements in the SERPs just for being a brand name rather than having a site that the Google algorithm ranks highly in the SERPs like it’s supposed to be.
Furthermore, is it fair that in the below screen capture for the keyword search “Halloween costumes,” there are “shopping results” that feature links and photos for Amazon.com, Buy.com and ToysRUs.com as the de facto third result above the fold for this keyword phrase? Why should those big brands get special treatment over smaller sites ranking naturally for this keyword?
Halloween Costumes SERP
In this example, it’s also getting more difficult for the average web surfer to determine what’s an advertisement and what’s a natural search result, unless they’re a savvy Internet marketer of course.
I do see how preferential treatment for brands signifies progress as well as opportunities for SEOs. Between the aforementioned results, social search and news results, there are more ways to rank highly in the SERPs aside from old-fashioned link building. If you understand how to rank in these new ways, you will possess an advantage over your competition.
If you are a distributor of a particular brand, this will afford you more of an incentive to optimize for that brand name because this will clearly increase the searches for that brand thanks to it being at the top of the SERPs. For brands, this will place a higher emphasis on optimizing for particular keywords for which they can possibly rank under this new brand category.
But the Internet used to be a bastion of meritocracy, and I wonder if placing brands on top of the SERPs now lends too much authority to brand equity at the expense of natural rankings.

What do you think of Google brands? Let us know in the comments!

1 Comment

  • Local Chicago SEO Jun 21, 2010

    On the other side of the coin there is also Google Local that helps the little guys with SEO