I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Google has been throwing out some pretty odd results recently. Top of the list though is the ability to have numerous results appear for the same site within a search.
Okay, so you’ve always been able to have a few appear pages appear in SERPs, as long as they were optimised for the same or similar terms. This was particularly true for newspapers and similar news outlets. But now it appears that you can actually dominate an entire results page for one term.
Some sleuthing by Malcolm Coles found that Google are treating brand names in search terms as site: searches. True enough, they really are.
This might sound like good news, but unless you’re a major brand you’ll not notice the difference. In fact, it could well end up damaging any results you’re achieving for brand-related terms.
Now it could have been in operation for days or even weeks, but as with all Google updates it wasn’t given any fanfare. It rolled out, slipped under the radar and right onto SERPs. But test it yourself, try a major brand name and see what you get back.
A search for Tesco Online for instance returns 8 different Tesco domains, along with one directory listing and a mysupermarket page. The same is true for most other major retailers and brands. This provides unrivalled dominance and creates something of an SEO headache. Not least because Google appear to have the power to overrule rankings and assign them based on brand relevance.
Unless you’re a massive aggregator, vertical search engine or mid-sized ecommerce company you probably won’t even notice any changes in rankings, traffic or indeed your SERPs. It might even just be a temporary test, something that Google are renowned for. But what this does highlight is the need for vigilance and an understanding of how search engine rankings can change overnight.
Brands do get a bit of an easy ride on Google and recent efforts have made it all the easier. However, they aren’t immune to being overturned. Top spots can’t be guaranteed and if you work hard, you should be rewarded for that effort.
So be aware of these new updates (if indeed they last into next week) but don’t be overly concerned. Google enjoy tinkering, so look out for more changes soon.