Google Panda Update – Made for Big Brands?

Marketing Firm Shows Data of Big Brands Winning

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Google Panda Update – Made for Big Brands?
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iCrossing does online marketing for numerous big brands, and says it has noticed some trends in which some of these brands have either risen in rankings or remained flat since the Google’s Panda Update, for keywords where other sites dropped off the grid.

Do you think Google got it right with Panda? Tell us what you think.

iCrossing counts plenty of big brands among their clients. Among them are: AAA, Auto Trader, BMW, Chevron, Coca-Cola, EA Games, eBay, FedEx, Hyundai, Kia, Marie Claire, Mary Kay, MasterCard, Mazda, Nokia, Porsche, LEGO, and Toyota, to name a few.

Collin Cornwell, VP of natural search at iCrossing, has shared some data looking at a couple examples of big brands that have followed the trend. He would not get into names, but calls them a “premier travel and hospitality client,” and a “big-time banker.”

It’s worth noting that these companies also saw no changes in Bing or Yahoo, and tha we don’t know what the content for the pages in question actually looks like – a key piece of the puzzle, obviously.

Here’s some data from the travel site:

iCrossing Data for travel site

According to iCrossing, Page 1 ranking increased 18% from the big brand from the beginning of the year, and 6.3% from when Panda was released, while brands like Suite101 and CheaperThanHotels.com saw 96% and 95% drops for the same keywords.

And some from the Bank:

iCrossing Data for travel site

The bank saw an increase of 45% for all non-branded keywords from the beginning of the year, and 10% increase in Page 1 placements since Panda. Smaller brands saw 94% – 84% drops.

“Google has been favoring big brands for years – starting with its ‘Vince Update’ back in 2009 and then again in 2010 when Google decided to include BRANDS in related searches,” said Cornwell.

“While the Panda update wasn’t meant to affect large brands directly, the change(s) seem to have had an indirect impact as the ‘lower quality’ sites continue to slip down in the search engine results pages,” he added.

By nature, big brands tend to get more links, more sharing, and more engagement. They also generally have more resources to apply to marketing tactics, web development, and design – all of which can play directly into how their content is viewed in Google.

The question is whether or not this approach works. Is content quality synonymous with brand recognition? No, but it is related. Brand recognition is directly related to trust, but not all big brands are well-liked or trusted by everybody. This is why Google’s domain-blocking features and the +1 button are perhaps two of the most important updates to Google’s search quality practices we’ve seen in a long time.

Quality is in the eye of the beholder, and these features give more say to the people. That said, there is a great potential for both of these to be abused by users. Google recently said, “as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality over time,” regarding the +1 button.

Here’s what Google’s Matt Cutts had to say about big brands ranking in Google a couple years ago:





He said he disagrees that big brands always do well, and that Google often hears complaints from big brands who don’t think they’re doing as well as they should.

How significant is brand to content quality? Share your thoughts.

Google Panda Update – Made for Big Brands?
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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/seo-consulting.htm Nick Stamoulis

    Big brands won’t always perform better, but they tend to do so because of a few factors. First off, they have the trust of the search engines and the public. Secondly, they have the money and time to invest in building their online presence that smaller brands just don’t have access to. That’s not to say that a smaller brand can’t do a fantastic job with their SEO and rank really well in the search results, but the bigger brands have an advantage if they do it right.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Having the resources is an advantage – no question.

  • http://www.acquirecontent.com Bill Richards

    Now that Panda has pushed out so many of the thin content/bad seo sites, it seems brands are over-dominating page 1. The Vince update and especially the August 2010 update gave more weight to brands; Panda pushed down a lot of their competition.
    IMO the August 2010 update is not a good feature – as a user, I’d rather have variety on page 1, so 1 or 2 results from the branded domain is plenty for me.

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    I don’t think Google got it right with big brands. Simply because the big brands do not always offers the best service. It is actually the smaller companies who offer better service and in many cases better prices.
    Unfortunately a small brand does not stand very good chance to get on the 1st page against companies who have millions to spend on link building, social presence etc…us small boys do not have enough cash or time to have this.

  • Rex

    I don’t know about all the brand stuff, but Google certainly DID NOT get the “Panda” update right.

    The problem wasn’t poor quality content on websites, it was poor results showing up on the SERPs. For example, when one did a search on Google for “buy blue widget,” they would get results like this “blue widgets that make Spaghetti.”

    Google’s search results would have page, after page, after page of non-related search results that were not related to the search keyword or keywords.

    Poor content on websites is one problem, but search results unrelated to search keyword/keywords is another. And, Google completely missed this point on their “Panda” update and penalized millions of websites instead for what they consider poor content – when the real problem was poor results in their SERPs.

  • http://blog.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

    Any brand small or big can do well for organic search on Google. Big brands have bigger SEO budgets and if the SEO does a good job of an overall web presence for the site it gets many natural links which boost the rankings.

    Small brands also can get this benefit but big brands being well known always have an edge over them when it comes to natural links.

    If the small brands have good informative original content and also do a good job at SEO then they too can get high rankings.

    We have many such examples of small brands doing well but compared to big brands it may take a slightly longer time to achieve the rankings and search engine presence.

  • John

    I understand what they said they were trying to do but I don’t think they got it right and it gives an unfair advantage to major brands.Google owes its very existence to the small sites that made them a huge success….Thanks for the loyalty!

  • http://www.lots0cash.com lots0

    For two and three word queries I am seeing multiple pages from the same domain on page one of the SERP.

    Is this quality search results?

    With millions of domains to choose from, google wants to put up multiple pages from the same domain(BH spammers and big brands) on page one…. and then call that quality search results…

    With google it is currently, “Bigger is Better”… Bigger the site, Better it does in google. Brands can afford to hire people to produce content on a scale that smaller sites just can not do.

    Prepare for Rant…
    Rant Initiated…

    Google used to be about giving the small guy a level playing field with the big guys… Well thats now ancient history.

    The “little guys” helped google get to where it’s at… now google don’t need us anymore… so all the small mom and pop’s get screwed… Thanks a lot Google.

  • http://www.debtsolution-strategies.com carddebtguy

    Some of our websites actually jumped in SERPS. Other smaller brands could have been dumped because they rely heavily on article marketing, link farms or other automated methods of getting back links.

  • vybixa

    This Panda thing is now going too far. I personally thought that the upheaval caused by the Panda updatewould, at least by now, have settled. How wrong I was! Generally, I have experienced 28% – 30% drops in search traffic AND dropped out of the top listings on Google. I would not consider my sites as badly optimized, and I do carry out a fair bit of offline SEO too, but this is surely worse than the previous May Update. Surely, the web is NOT about big brands alone, and though Google is not the web, we have a lot to be responsible for in getting them where they are.

  • http://www.jewelryboxcity.com Watch Winders

    Panda update makes the small business hard to get online. Ecommerce is depend on SEO backlinks. Small business does not have the budget to buy and hire people to do SEO and backlinking. Panda Update will hurt the small business (this will make SEO more valuable and probably more scam will emerge…

  • alimac

    My specific interest is local search (specifically hotels) ,,, so here goes my tuppence worth.

    (1)The first ten truly local business sites that previously were appearing between page one and three now appear between page one (more often two) and fifteen ,,,, there has been an overall downgrading of actual local businesses in Google’s organic search. (Now padded out with various sites that are effectively lists of local businesses or regurgitation of booking engines). Good for internet users ? Good for small businesses ?

    (2) Google decreased the number of local businesses shown via (what is now) Google Places. This made it more difficult for small businesses to reach their audience. Good for internet users ? Good for small businesses ?

    (3) Sites that are banned from the Google Index now appear at the top of page one due to the hybrid places / seach results. Good for internet users ? Good for (honest) small businesses ?

    (4) Google Places seems to show no rhyme or reason as to the businesses it displays. Businesses appear and disappear in about a three to six month cycle. Unfortunately if you are playing by the rules there are too many people not playing by the rules that you never actually get near the top of the pile

    The internet was, as an ideal, supposed to be a way to break down knowledge asymmetry. To allow people open access to information that was in the domain of a select few.

    Specifically in relation to Local Search : how are Googles recent “improvements” facilitating open access to local business information ?

    Google is it’s own law maker, judge and jury yet increasingly seems unable to police and enforce it’s own rules.

    At the end of the day Google was and is number one because of the quality of it’s results but recent “improvemnts”, not just Panda, suggest a state of corporate decadence and decline

  • http://Toomany Stef (Googleman)

    I am still wondering… Why Why Why is it so hard to understand !
    Google wants to give what people are asking for in there search request… When i search for something and get stupid results, i get frustrated like everyone… If web site owner wants to rank high on Google or any oder search engine, it is so easy that it’s RIDICULOUS… Analyse the organic results, and then, make a better content… What is there so hard to understand ?

    The major problem is that everyone wants to be on the first page tommorow for a 1.00$… If big brands are on the first page, they paid for that, and now making money… And the big brands that are not on the first page… Well they probabely paid a 1.00$ for their optimization… When i say a 1.00$ i hope that some people don’t realy think that i realy mean a 1.00$ (I wrote it down just to make sure)

    There is no Dark side of the Moon realy, as a matter a fact its all DARK… Meannig – No big secrets – follow the rules and the YELLOW BRICK ROAD… And you’ll get there. So Simple… So Simple !

    Good day…



    • http://www.askthetrainer.com Mike Behnken

      You must be a loyal Ehow reader

  • Rick Morris

    I believe this one came up far short of it’s goals. Sites that no-one has heard of are ranking on the front pages along with long established sites, and other long established sites are nowhere to be seen. When I now do a Google search, the results are so anemically returned in some cases, that I now use Bing and Yahoo more and more, and Google only to see if the most often returned sites are universally agreed to. This hasn’t effected our positions all that much, but I notice that in checking referrals, Google has lost a lot of strength, and direct entry and Bing are increasing, along with other site cross linking. I Know we will all watch with interest the long term results, but this update, and the new button features could well be a rather large, and confidence draining Goose-egg!

  • http://www.mesrianilaw.com Mariah

    I believe that Google is fare when it comes to their rankings. It’s just that big brands really invest in their internet marketing more than their competitors. There are different strategies on being at the top rank, so companies should work on it rather than blaming Google.

  • http://ejakulasi-dini.mywapblog.com hasan force

    I think google still give true result in their main page. Although sometime duplicate result is shown on searching result

  • http://www.website-consultancy.com Website Consultancy

    Same ol’, same ol’

    I remember the early 2000s when we loved Google for its breath of fresh air, but of late their whole trust factor seems to be dwindling.

    It’s tough enough in Google Search for a small site to rank well in the first place, let alone taking a knock with each new update.

    Big sites don’t rely as heavily on SERP, because they’re a brand people recognise and are most likely bookmarked in their browsers, whereas smaller, new sites in particular, have to work hard to get listed primarily for niche key phrases.

    I always believed that penalising paid links &c was designed to level the playing field, giving all types of site a fair crack of the whip – but maybe I was wrong.

  • Chinemere

    When I say Google is fast losing its grip on the world wide web, most people think I’m a dooms day cyber prophet.
    But going by the parameters, this is exactly what is going on, and Google might be the victim of another dotcom bubble burst, courtesy of its on schemes and lack of direction.
    Google used to be a preacher of online democracy, but now a complete fascist entity believing that it is only the big brands who have a right to get number 1 listing on their SERP.
    This is quite unfortunate (for Google), I see a new search Giant(bing I think) emerging as a sharp decline in the use of Google has been noticed since this Panda thing.
    Now the question is- is Yahoo and Bing ready to take the lead and usher us into a new era of online democracy? Only time will tell…

  • http://www.askthetrainer.com Mike Behnken

    Google wouldn’t know “high quality” if it hit em’ in the face. EHOW IS NOT HIGH QUALITY, terrible update kills the little guy.

  • Macaco

    I think Google got it right with Panda. I’m seeing better search results.

  • http://www.mydietpost.com/ eva

    Big brands won’t always perform better,?

  • http://www.TruckStuffUSA.com Mark Lane

    I was a Yahoo user in the 90’s, a Google user in 2000’s and looks like I’ll be a Bing user in the 10’s.

    I recently switched to Bing and it appears to be a rapidly growing trend. I do realize that they are as revenue driven as Google and may eventually sell their sole for the almighty $$. However, they appear to be focusing more on quality results than Google at present. Much better organic search results and less focus on ads above the fold.

  • http://www.no-win-no-fees-lawyers.com no win no fee lawyer

    They tell us little things but hold back on the information that could really help us out here… why cant they just give uss a step by step guidline on how to improve rank? and even a guide on how important each technique is?

    • http://www.zebratechies.com Anirban Das

      Big brands having there own resources and they are established for years(most of the cases) and already they are recognized as authorized domain which makes easier to prove themselves on better SERP, but new born/small business website can be managed and established if they use right the direction.

  • John

    I lost 50% of my traffic today to large million page corporate content scrapers. It feels great to see my own content outranking me in the search engines after having been stolen by eHow or About.com. Wikipedia is another giant site guilty of stealing my photos and content on a regular basis.

    Why doesn’t Google create two search engines, one for original content, and the other just for About.com, eHow, and Wikipedia. Let the users decide which engine they want to search through and let the chips fall where they may. I know that won’t work for Google’s profit margin, but it doesn’t hurt to dream big.

  • http://www.myrisedesign.net Taylor Clark

    It’s obvious that pagerankings will appear to favor big brands. As many of the comments on here state, those with the resources will be the most likely to succeed. Being a small business owner, I work alone, and my pagerank is a direct reflection of my available resources. A company doing the same work that I do, with the resources to invest a team of 10 people to work on pagerank will obviously have a higher chance to being more successful in the end.

    Google will eventually find an algo that moderates everything. Between fighting blackhat tactics and working for fairness in rankings, I imagine their plate is fairly full. I see this update as a new chance to gain some ground on my keywords, perhaps with the clutter out of the picture a bit, I might end up with a better chance.

    One can hope.

  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    I think the reason Big Brands tend to rank so well in Google for their targeted keywords is related to the authority of their websites. Big Brand’s websites normally have high PRs, I know PR is not a reliable “measuring tool”, but I don’t believe that high PageRank means high authority website, at least under Google’s eyes and this helps them rank high for their targeted keywords.

  • Anthony Baker

    yeah… Lotso said it right with his comment:

    “The “little guys” helped google get to where it’s at… now google don’t need us anymore… so all the small mom and pop’s get screwed… Thanks a lot Google.”

    I 100% agree with this. I was top page results on countless key phrases for 12 years until this evil Panda hit. Now when I search for all those phrases “THE ONLY TOP RESULTS” are HUGE big company sites. Sites that the little guys have no chance competing with. This really stinks! Goodbye Google, it’s been fun up until now. I do believe our relationship is over! :-(

    • Anthony Baker

      I forget to mention, I did not get hit for low quality at all. All my content is 100% original content, is good quality and useful. No, I did not get smacked by the Panda because of low quality or anything else they are saying might be the cause. It’s solely because I’m a little guy. This latest Panda change has moved all the BIG sites to the top, there is no doubt about it. All the small guys have moved to the bottom! Just because you are the little guy does not mean you don’t have great content. This really stinks. Google got it wrong with this one, they really did.

      • http://www.hayestrading.com W. Hayes

        In total agreement Anthony. There are many small businesses who sell for manufacturers and use their content. Our company provides some of the most competitive prices on the net for our products and we answer the phone without putting you through a maze of voice mail prompts. As a customer buying products, “valuable content” is finding the right product at the right price. Panda will make it harder for business customers to find products at competitive prices and they’ll put many small businesses out of business. Perhaps that is the intent.

  • http://toptentoyou.blogspot.com toptentoyou

    I’m think Google got it right with big brands.

  • http://www.hayestrading.com Wayne Hayes

    Google definitely favored big brands in this change. Many of the manufacturers do not even sell direct, yet they come up first while small companies have moved to pages 4, 5 and beyond who are the distributors. The Internet was a level playing field for a while. Now big brands are flooding pages 1 and 2 and with the same big brands being repeated on those pages. How is this better for search results, especially when we have some of the lowest prices in the market – same products, same manufacturers? The buyer loses in that case.

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