Does Google Favor Brands Regardless of SEO?

Google homepage on a laptop.
Ever since the “Vince” algorithm update in 2009, big brands seem to have gotten a leg up in the search results.

But it’s not just about being a big brand. It’s about the signals that come along with having a strong brand. Like expertise, authority, and trust.

Presumably, big brands have bigger budgets and more resources, allowing them to do better SEO and compete better in the search results.

Feedback Loop for Google

A more aggressive SEO strategy with all the right components can increase expertise, authority, and trust signals to Google. So, Google will reward that brand’s website.

If that brand ends up in position one on the search results, it will begin to garner more clickthrough than the other results.

And if people dwell on that site for a significant period of time, that could also be a signal that the page is very relevant to users.

All this can then act as a feedback loop for Google to continue to reward that page.

Don’t forget also that if you have a strong brand, people will recognize that, and it may impact their willingness to click on a result, too.

Familiarity Matters

One study showed that 26% said a familiar brand was a reason for clicking on search ads. Even though that study is referring to ads, it is telling nonetheless how people may react to brands in the organic search results.

So, there are many factors that can contribute to why big brands tend to show up in search results.

But are the giants always better than the little guys? The answer is no. In fact, a lot of times, big brands have more turnover and are less agile than the smaller guys.

However, despite a smaller company’s best efforts, there are times when big brands still outrank them.

For example, take RankBrain, Google Search’s machine learning component applied to its search results. It *may* enhance the favoritism of brands in the results, as I’ve written about here:

Because Google tends to favor big brands online for a variety of reasons, with RankBrain things like the site’s engagement rate, mentions of the brand across many social sites and so on could further enhance favoritism here. This could happen despite the fact that some bigger brands may have a weaker link profile than other websites in their space.

So, what do you do when you think you can do better than the big guys that are ranking number one? You try it!

Despite the fact that it can take a lot of work (and perhaps a bigger SEO budget), you can try to be “least imperfect” compared to the brand that is ranking for your desired keywords in the search results.

Remember, SEO is about beating the competition, not the algorithm. Also, remember that agility and speed to implement changes is a smaller company’s weapon against the big guys. Don’t be surprised by the traffic you didn’t get for the SEO work you didn’t do.

Will it always work? No. There are situations where it can be near impossible.

For example, if you are trying to compete for product-related keywords against a big brand, or if you have a history of spam or a manual penalty of some sort.

One way we’ve been able to help clients go up against big brands is by rethinking their keyword strategy altogether. Historically, brands have not been very good at owning long-tail keywords (those are the three to five-word keywords).

There is a lot of opportunity when you go after these keywords — you can get a good amount of traffic.

So does Google favor brands in the search results regardless of their SEO?

It occurred to me that this article could have been just one word – YES! But keeping to SEO answer standards – IT DEPENDS. Google tries to rank the highest quality, most relevant pages for a query. And major brands tend to have a lot of signals that Google is looking for.

Google is not perfect, however. That means smaller brands need to work harder to compete.

I have written about this topic at length in the past. So for in-depth SEO tips, see my article on how to beat the giants in the search results. And check out 50 “white hat” ways to get authority links to your site.

This article was inspired by a question I received during our live monthly Q&A sessions for members. Each month we meet to discuss all things SEO and answer member questions directly. If you’d like me to answer your SEO question live, head over to and sign up for membership.

FAQ: How do big brands leverage their advantage in SEO to dominate search results?

Big brands have mastered the art of leveraging their inherent advantages to secure top positions in search results. As an authoritative voice in the realm of SEO, I am excited to unveil the tactics that enable these brands to establish and maintain their dominance.

Harnessing the Power of Brand Signals

Big brands have a distinct advantage due to their reputation, expertise, and trustworthiness. These brand signals send a strong message to search engines, affirming the credibility and relevance of their content. By consistently delivering high-quality and authoritative content, big brands build a solid foundation that propels them to the forefront of search results.

Strategic Content Creation and Optimization

One of the cornerstones of big brands’ SEO success lies in their strategic content creation and optimization approach. These brands craft meticulously researched and informative content that resonates with their target audience. Incorporating relevant keywords and semantic variations, they optimize their content to align seamlessly with user intent. This strategic alignment significantly enhances their visibility in search results.

Elevating User Experience and Engagement

User experience plays a pivotal role in SEO dominance. Big brands invest in creating user-friendly websites that offer intuitive navigation, fast loading times, and mobile responsiveness. Providing a seamless and engaging browsing experience encourages users to spend more time on their site. This extended dwell time signals to search engines that the content is valuable and relevant, further solidifying their position in search rankings.

Strategies for Building Quality Backlinks

Big brands understand the importance of building a robust backlink profile. They forge strategic partnerships, collaborate with influencers, and engage in authoritative guest posting to acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable sources. These backlinks serve as a vote of confidence from the online community, enhancing their authority and visibility in search results.

Staying Ahead of Algorithm Changes

Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, and big brands quickly adapt. They regularly monitor algorithm updates and industry trends and adjust their strategies to align with the latest best practices. By staying ahead of the curve, they maintain their competitive edge and continue to dominate search results.

The dominance of big brands in search results results from strategic and multifaceted SEO techniques. By capitalizing on brand signals, creating optimized content, prioritizing user experience, building quality backlinks, and staying agile in the face of algorithm changes, these brands carve a path to search supremacy. For businesses aspiring to emulate their success, a comprehensive and strategic SEO approach is the key to unlocking similar achievements.

Step-by-Step Procedure for Leveraging SEO Advantage for Search Dominance:

  1. Establish a robust brand identity focusing on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
  2. Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant search terms and user intent.
  3. Create high-quality, informative content aligned with user needs and search intent.
  4. Optimize content using relevant keywords, semantic variations, and structured data.
  5. Ensure a seamless user experience with a mobile-friendly and user-friendly website design.
  6. Monitor website speed and performance to enhance user engagement and dwell time.
  7. Develop a strategic backlink acquisition plan, including influencer collaborations and guest posting.
  8. Focus on building quality backlinks from reputable and authoritative sources.
  9. Regularly audit and optimize existing content to maintain relevance and search visibility.
  10. Stay updated with search engine algorithm changes and industry trends.
  11. Adapt SEO strategies in response to algorithm updates to maintain a competitive edge.
  12. Continuously track and analyze website performance using analytics tools.
  13. Monitor keyword rankings and organic search traffic to assess SEO effectiveness.
  14. Leverage data-driven insights to refine content and SEO strategies over time.
  15. Engage with your target audience through social media and online communities.
  16. Encourage user-generated content and reviews to enhance brand credibility.
  17. Foster partnerships and collaborations within your industry to amplify your brand’s reach.
  18. Regularly update and refresh content to provide up-to-date and relevant information.
  19. Implement structured data markup to enhance search engine understanding of your content.
  20. Cultivate a continuous learning and optimization culture within your SEO team.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (11)
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11 Replies to “Does Google Favor Brands Regardless of SEO?”

Yes, they do favor big companies/brands because Google discovered they could get more revenue by squeezing small businesses out of the organic results, causing them to increase their Adwords budgets. The revenue growth from Google Ads proved. Brands usually have more promotions thus creating more signals to Google of relevance. Google’s search results are becoming more stratified now as Google filters out generative AI spam and small blogs which may sell links. The key to surmounting the disadvantage is to promote your site/brand more strongly. Of course, this means spending more! Good luck.

The short answer is no, Google does not favor brands regardless of SEO. While having a strong brand presence can be helpful in some ways, such as building trust and loyalty with customers, it is not a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

Instead, Google’s algorithm is designed to prioritize websites that provide high-quality, relevant content and a good user experience. This means that even if a website has a strong brand presence, it still needs to have good SEO practices in place, such as optimizing content for relevant keywords, building high-quality backlinks, and ensuring the site is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.

In summary, while having a strong brand can certainly be beneficial for a business, it is not a substitute for good SEO practices when it comes to ranking in Google’s search results.


SEO is currently dominating the advertising market today. Grasping it will be a new step for you

I believe that big brands have higher turnover and are less agile than smaller companies. Brand awareness and turnover can coexist. Although search engine optimization is primarily used to generate organic traffic, it also helps to strengthen branding and raise brand awareness.

Yes it is increasingly becoming clear that Google ranks established brands first even if there is better new entrant.

Very nice… I like your blog, useful info.

Wow, what a great article!

i think that having a brand is better than nothing

Infact bigger brands do comes up with a strong branding signals like authority and trust, which will ultimately make the search ranking to be in their favor.

This Article is Awesome. It’s helped me a lot. Please keep up your good work. We are always with you and Waiting for your new interesting


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