Algorithm changes in SEO are perhaps as old as the search engine itself, and according to the mobile-friendly algorithm update on April 21, 2015, mobile-friendly brands have become an exception to various SERP rules. A popular question doing rounds in the world of search engine optimizations is whether brands dominate the relevancy algorithm in Google.

What does Google say about Branding Questions?

Brands are the solutions, not the problem…brands are how you sort out the cesspool” – Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

We actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side.” – Matt Cutts, Head of Web Spam at Google

Is Google Putting More Weight On Brands In Ranking?

When asked about branding and rankings, this is what Matt Cutts, Head of Web Spam at Google, has to say –

Different SEO experts have diverse theories regarding the new update and the impact of brands on SEO rankings; however, according to Matt Cutts, the exact answer of whether a company plays a significant role on Google’s ranking algorithm is no. In the video, Matt Cutts has explained that when Google says that brands are powerful, it means that brands are better maintained when it comes to reputation management, demand, and popularity. Branding is not a ranking factor; however, it may be a strong influencer on SEO rankings.

Branding and the Ranking Factor – The Difference

When we talk about ranking factor according to Google’s Algorithm standards, we often refer to the technicalities associated with the algorithm. These technicalities may include the measures that Google uses to position a website on search engine pages.

Branding, on the other hand, depends upon the popularity of a product created within an organization, or the organization itself. A product or a company may rank higher due to its popularity but Google will not rank a company because it thinks that the brand quality is higher compared to other similar product manufacturers. For example – Google does not say – Hey, let’s rank Maybelline on top because they have better beauty products than Lakme. That is not how the algorithm works.

Ranking Difference


What Matters The Most?

If you see a popular brand doing a great job on the top pages of Google search engine results, you will notice that the brand follows authentic Google SEO practices. It is seen that most brands have better links and Google is known to reward quality links, instead of, a large quantity of links. Apart from that, user experience always plays a significant role in the SERPs.

In conclusion, it won’t be wrong to say that, it is not the brands that matter, it’s the brands that follow authentic SEO measures actually attain rankings on the top pages.

The Social Media Impact

When you will look deeply into the matter, you will realize that everything is interrelated, including SERP results. If a brand has more fan following and the users are familiar with a product or service of a brand, then the brand is automatically going to get more social sharing, compared to its competitors. And as they say, the higher the demand, the better the ranking. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, searchers recall the brands the encounter in the SERPs and social networking websites. In fact, it was found in the research that the higher the ranking in SERPs, the better the likelihood of recall.

Story behind Click through Rates

The story is similar with click-through rates. There is no denying the fact that click-through rates have a direct impact on search engine rankings. If a lot of users find the websites ranked on number four, five, or six more relevant, there won’t be any surprise if the rankings of those websites move up very quickly.

It is a basic human psyche, we always choose the familiar because it seems most comfortable and less risky. If a user is familiar with a brand and has a positive association with it, they are more likely to shop from them. This is the power of brand building and advertising and this is one of the reasons why most brands get better ranks and higher clicks compared to SMBs or start-ups. Marketing and customer management is imperative for the success of any brand, regardless of its age.

So, it is correct to say that brand impacts the SERPs? Definitely, not! However, can we say that a brand impacts SEO positively? Most certainly in every niche, yes, it does.

The ‘Responsive’ Side of Branding

In the recent update by Google, it was clearly mentioned that for a company to get in the top of SERPs, it is important to be something more than just a popular brand. According to a recent news article by Business Insider, it is important for a brand’s website to be ‘mobile-friendly.’ Here’s is an excerpt from the article –

“Google announced in February it is making changes to its mobile search algorithm to give “mobile-friendly” sites – those with large text, easy-to-click links, or those with responsive design (which means webpages uses the same URL whether they are on desktop or mobile, but “respond” according to the screen size of the device) – higher rankings in search results”

Eric Schmidt – On Branding and Other Google Updates

Contrary to Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, frequently talks about Google’s agendas and all the exciting updates that are coming out. In the past few months, he has made various quotes related to SEO, branding and relationships. Here’s what he had to say –

The internet is fast becoming a “cesspool” where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.

“Brand affinity is clearly hard wired,” he said. “It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.”

And here is his take on word relationships from the most recent earnings call

“Wouldn’t it be nice if Google understood the meaning of your phrase rather than just the words that are in that phrase? We have a lot of discoveries in that area that are going to roll out in the next little while.”


Popularity and branding is an integral element of every feasible profit-making organization. Remember, being a brand is not enough, your active participation, customer experience, and SEO tactics you use are imperative for a higher rank of your website on SERPs.

Do you think brands do not give change to small businesses when it comes to SEO rankings? Share your views in the comments’ section.