Google brand update hits the UK

  • 1
  • June 29, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Back in March Google performed an update which effectively boosted the rankings of big brands in the search results. At the time I commented that the update hadn’t appeared in the UK – until this weekend.

The results have been moving a lot in the last few weeks but without any real patterns (other than US results appearing for UK specific queries which is probably just an error). Today the results are full of authority websites which seem to be ranking higher than one might expect for competitive keywords.

In the past if you wanted to rank for a really competitive term it was necessary to carry out a lot of link-building and have good on-page SEO. Today Google seems to be letting authority websites rank based on internal linkage and trust even though they have comparitively few targeted external links.

The implications of this are huge for large brands because they have a much easier time getting top rankings. It also has an even bigger effect for anybody doing SEO for medium sized companies because there are a lot fewer places available on page 1 for competitive queries. In the past you had 10 spots to go after but now if Google places 5 brands on the page then there are only 5 spots for everybody else.

The key question everybody has is – what do we need to do to become a “brand” or an “authority site” so we can benefit from this? Nobody knows for sure but it’s clear that most of the factors required to gain rankings by being an authority site are likely to be totally unconnected with traditional SEO.

  • Mentions in the mainstream media – how much does Google look at mentions rather than links in the authority algorithm?
  • Links from mainstream media sites to your homepage – the best indication of trust Google has
  • Buzz & mentions of your brand – again, how many people are talking about you?
  • Search volume for your brand – how many people search for your brand directly?
  • Traffic data – how many visitors do you get outside search?
  • Related search volume – how many people search for “” and “car insurance” in the same session?

How has the brand update affected you today?