By 5 years ago in Google SEO

The brand update is about maximising satisfaction rates

We’ve been trying to figure out the brand algorithm ever since the brand update hit the UK in June but nobody has really had the answer so far.

This week during the meet the search engines session Matthew Trewhella from Google gave the best description so far of the brand update.

I’m going to paraphrase here but from the comments Matthew made the brand update is about Google minimising the number of times people have to search to find the products or information they are looking for. Every time a user has to perform a second search Google regards it as their failure for not bring up the right result the first time.

So what Google is doing is testing which results are going to give the least number of secondary searches and displaying those. In the past somebody might have searched for “travel insurance” and found a few good sites before remembering that the Post Office does travel insurance too and searched for them to get a comparison. For Google this is regarded as a bit of a failure because they didn’t bring up the Post Office in the first place.

Google can perform multivariate testing to see which 10 results to display and in what order they should be displayed in order to give the lowest number of repeat searches.

Any site that has a good brand search volume and a good “satisfaction rate” (my words, not Googles) for a query will stand a good chance of keeping on the front page and moving higher. The satisfaction rate is basically the percentage of visitors who visit your site using a particular query and either buy your product or get an answer to their question without having to search again on Google.

Matthew was evasive when I asked whether the brand update would be rolled out for more keywords. At present it’s just a few dozen but if Google has got this right then they could change the rankings of thousands of keywords overnight in the next few months.

The main purpose of the caffeine update was to allow Google to push the envelope in terms of size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. If one of these dimensions is a better ability to perform live multivariate testing on hundreds of thousands of search results then be prepared for some changes and start improving your satisfaction rates.

By Patrick Altoft. at 2:10PM on Thursday, 15 Oct 2009

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

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16 Responses to “The brand update is about maximising satisfaction rates”

  1. Ari says:

    I haven’t seen Vince on a few dozen keyword sets – I see it in every vertical where there is a dominant brand.

  2. Shark SEO says:

    I agree with Ari on this one, I’ve seen a lot of examples of brands (or successful sites) that were boosted over a large range of keywords, not just a few dozen. Also, it’s not like Google to cherry pick a few terms to apply an algorithm too – there’ll be a reason why they’ve chosen those terms, and it’ll likely be because those terms have a high volume of searches and a very high volume of those searches being refined.
    You might also find this post interesting, from last month :)

  3. Hey Mate, I’ve read a couple of posts on your blog and I love your style. I am going to subscribe to your RSS feed :)

  4. tag44 says:

    Thanks for the post and for sharing the information on brand updates. Nice post…!!

  5. [...] Book provides the answer this week, courtesy of insight by UK SEO Guru Patrick Altoft. Aaron ads some compelling evidence to Patrick’s theory that Google has [...]

  6. [...] idea fits in exactly with what Chewy from Google recently mentioned, where he suggested that users refining a query generally indicates that they’re not happy [...]

  7. [...] (and Rhea), Kevin, Tad, Kelvin, Rebecca (and Chris), Lee (and Adam), Rae, Michael, Branko, Jane, Patrick, Dave, Tom (and Will), Clint, Michael, Mark, Matt, Barry, Brian, Andy, David, Wiep, Kalena, and [...]

  8. [...] the aftermath of the Vince update going live, a Google engineer called Matthew Trewhella stated that the Vince update was to do with the number of times a user had to refine their searches until [...]

  9. @GuavaMarkeD @neyne did you see this blogstorm post? http://bit.ly/4zZw2h <– Came out about a month after mine, seems to support it

  10. [...] The brand update is about maximising satisfaction rates publicado em 15/10/2009 Um excelente artigo discutindo o Vince Update, que noticiamos na edição 2 dos Melhores Artigos de SEO da Semana. Desta vez o autor Patrick Altoft reforça a idéia de que o Google está favorecendo certas marcas baseado nas declarações do Googler Matthew Trewhella. Vale apena ler. [...]

  11. [...] Read Patrick Altoft’s full post: The Brand Update is about Maximising Satisfaction Rates [...]

  12. [...] Google claims to like brands, that brands are how you sort out the cesspool, and to show brands for generic keywords to increase user satisfaction. [...]

  13. [...] marketers look for more clever ways to exploit it for profit – looking for everything from how to rank for higher value keywords right on through to how to cheaply and reliably spam the longtail of [...]

  14. The System says:

    Satisfaction with brand search should be 100%
    It throws up questions over what variables google is using to correlate user behaviour as outlined in your second paragraph with satisfaction. Are you losing rankings because your prices are too high and the customer decides to re-search?

  15. [...] a few different algorithms such as the famous “brand” algorithm which is linked to satisfaction rates (apparently) and more recently the one not many people seem to talk about which is the “not [...]

  16. [...] implies that Google, if they’re testing things like click-through rates and satisfaction rates, are likely to be testing several variants of SERPs across different data centres, presumably to [...]

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