The ever insightful Aaron Wall & co. have done a great job to draw attention to an update to Google’s algo (though Matt Cutts would rather call it a change) which is becoming known by two names, the brand update and Vince (after the engineer who worked on the shift within Google)
What ever you call it there seems to have been a shift on certain terms in favour of more traditional “brands” I’ll leave it to others to discus the ethics and pros and cons of this change I wanted to write a little about why it is that bigger brands might need this preferential treatment from Google.
Lots of stakeholders requiring a say and approval – The bigger the organisation the more opinions are going to be sought before any changes or decisions can be made. For people who have never worked with or inside a large business it’s difficult to understand how many people can be involved a choice like building a new site.
Sometimes it’s simply a case of if you ask someone for feedback they feel they have to chip in, this slows down any changes, more justification may be needed and sometimes a consensus which doesn’t please anyone seems the best option. Other times it’s because they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and occasionally it’s just because they see there brand as something so precious that shouldn’t be re-visited unless absolutely nesscery.
A small change or choice can quickly become a huge undertaking with many people involved.
The bigger you are the complex it is to understand what to do with your website –Maybe there’s several distinct divisions or products aimed at very different markets. And politics can sometimes come into play where one area of the business wants a separate URL and has gone out and built a website independently.
A leaner operation would have a clearer focus and modus operandi which is more likely to successfully find it’s way into a well executed search marketing campaign.
Risk vs. Reward – For most people involved with SEO a best practice white hat campaign is seen as very low risk, and it most cases it is. If you follow the guidelines and make the spiders’ life easier you’ll see positive ROI.
But look at it from a different perspective, as an internal marketer at a brand, your traditional marketing and advertising still drives significant business, online you make money, even though much of your traffic is from comes direct to your site or via branded search traffic. Their marketing may not be ‘great’ but falls comfortably into the ‘good’ category
For them to employ an in-house SEO or outsource to an external agency they will have to secure budget from their boss and by doing that they are investing a lot of faith professionally in SEO as a concept especially in the current economic climate.
These are just a few of the reasons why bigger companies can sometimes struggle with search, there are lots of others I’m sure you’ve come across.
If the latest update has changed our strategy in any way it’s crystallized a belief that SEO can’t work in isolation; a company has to be using a variety of channels to get their message across. Brands still need to get SEO right to really compete and companies relying only on natural search rankings need to up the ante and become a brand in their own right.