There is a reason that three years ago I trademarked “Building Your Internet Branding®” as part of the SEO business strategy. The reason is made evident by the natural evolution of Google’s algorithm, where trust rank is the key to a successful organic ranking campaign.
What is branding development?
At its most fundamental level, branding is the process a business must go through to build trust with a target audience (the consumer) and the related target industries (manufacturers, wholesale distribution channels, product/service review channels, etc.).
That being said, to understand what Google branding is all about, you have to understand what SEO is and what it is not. I had planned for a blog article on this that goes into detail about what SEO means in today’s search algorithms.
I guess I am going to have to push that up, as it is critical in understanding and protecting your website from major algorithm shifts in the future. You can bet that Google will continue to tweak and expand how trust is factored—and you better know what you’re doing to protect your online income for the long term.
As an overview of that topic and the relevant blog posts that go with it, let’s talk about trust as it relates to organic rankings.
Now, I have a high school education, so I am not the guy that is going to get into mathematical formulas that would look like Greek to me (and most other people as well).
When it comes to understanding an algorithm, I am the guy that has always said, “Don’t overthink a problem.” The typical site owner could care less about how you calculated the relevancy score of a document—and frankly, you’re guessing anyway based upon assumptions and what you might have read in old patents old web pages.
Theory is a wonderful thing, but in the end, it’s all about the search results. So we’ll leave the complicated math to some other SEO geeks.
What we will talk about is logical and easy for anyone to understand: Everyone understands “Trust.”
We deal with it every day—” I trust ‘X’ business; I don’t trust ‘Y’ person.” You know the routine, right? So when we’re looking at Google’s goals for search, they’re all about building trust with their consumer…the typical searcher.
They build trust by delivering the best results. They deliver the best results by presenting consumers with trusted sites. Trusted sites become trusted based upon their link profile (where your links are coming from). And the relationship that profile has to document relevance. So when we’re talking about Google branding, it’s just code words from Google talking about putting even more importance on trust rank factors.
As an SEO expert, your job is to create document relevance. As an internet marketing expert, your job is to build the client’s internet branding via promotion of the site through trusted inbound links from relevant topical authority documents.
So what changed?
Here is my two cents… Based upon just a cursory review of the search results and comments associated with what’s occurred. I believe a higher degree of importance has been placed on the actual document relevance of where the link is coming from and less on what the anchor text says. How did I come to this conclusion?
Big Box branding gets a significant number of inbound links as a result of branding name recognition achieved via more traditional marketing for branding development. As we are well aware, most of these links don’t use “Juicy Keywords Here” types of anchor text. Rather, these major brandings tend to get links that say “Company Name” or “Company URL” on documents surrounded by information written about a specific product or service. Of course, these citations also come from lots of choices trusted documents that mom and pop sites can’t usually touch.
Document trust and relevance over the last few years has gained importance for ranking, and it would appear that it has now become critical to your success in the future.
Unfortunately, as is typical with Google, if you don’t understand where they’re going with search, you end up getting hurt as a business owner. This is why I am a firm believer that Google is really bad for search in general. They have taken a platform that once allowed legitimate business owners and entrepreneurs to readily compete and turned it into something that offers big box stores just one more market they can easily buy up.
Let’s face facts. No matter how wonderful it is to have someone like Matt Cutts telling you little “tidbits” of information, Google does not want business owners, entrepreneurs, or SEO firms intentionally manipulating their results. That’s simply an accepted fact.
If Google wanted you actively participating in creating quality search results. They would tell you what you need to know to properly optimize and prepare your website to rank – i.e. what is important for you and what is not in a very straight forward and open manner. They would then tell you what represents a quality citation and what does not. Have you actively involved in creating the most accurate and diverse search results ever?
A spam site is NOT going to get sufficient quality citations to compete. You know that, I know that, and the people at Google know that. The problem is, telling you anything means sharing parts of their algorithm.
Someone serious about their online business would develop the content and tools necessary to get the quality citations in effect pushing spammers way down the food chain of SERP results.
It would be good for search, good for searchers, good for site owners (small and large), and good for everyone except the sites Google wants to keep out of the search results. It would put Google search back to a place where it used to be. That would create a level playing field where the small business owners would have a clear understanding of how to compete well against large corporations and offer consumers real diversity. Instead, Google is gradually making search just one more place where mega-corporations can dominate (a/k/a buy) the market. Blocking out legitimate businesses they think are “junk”.
It does make you wonder about these manual review systems now in place over at Google. The fact is, Google branding is all about being trusted as a website, and manual reviews appear to be one more tool in how Google determines whether or not they want your site in the equation—even with the right link citations.
What is the future of search?
The future of search is going to be all about Trust. Companies simply have to work harder at building their internet branding and ensuring they have the right citation from the right sites. Frankly, if this is the direction Google is taking search where “big box” companies and huge information sites rule the 1st-page results, I will not be surprised to see them begin to slip in market share.
Searchers like diversity. They like to find those unique sites they wouldn’t otherwise know about. They need a broad variety of choice.
If a website obtains the right trusted citations from a broad spectrum of relevant documents, who is Google to manually review and devalue that site’s relevance because they don’t believe that company has the “Branding Authority” to be in a particular position for a specific search term based upon some internal manual? Wow. Talk about controlling information! If this is the future of search Google has in mind, well….
It’s just crazy!
Follow along with my next blog post on What SEO Is And What SEO Isn’t. I was waiting until later this year to post on internet marketing for Google, but with the tightening on Trust rank, I suppose I will need to bump that up to this series of posts so you know how to build the right citations even should Google manually decide your site is not the Branding Authority they want showing up.