I just wanted to share this as a trend I’m seeing in valuing brand as a ranking factor.
The more I look into this, I really think this is a key consideration brands should be paying more attention to in terms of driving real organic growth as a holistic approach, which is often overlooked (probably because it feels out of our control / above our current role or possibly outside of our best interests).
I’ve picked a very competitive marketplace being Germany, with public data to share on the top competitors to create an example around the following:
Domain value (per month equivalent media value on AHREFS):
RS Components: $29.4k – https://ahrefs.com/site- explorer/overview/v2/prefix/live?target=de.rs-online.com%2Fweb%2F
I like this model to help build a business cases and one I have seen agencies use first hand, e.g. if you’re Farnell what would you pay for an extra $18k per month ($216k per year) of value? Just for improving performance on one page! Distrelecs growth opportunity is worth $21.5k per month ($258k annually)
If we was to use this same method on a completely different more competitive market for example “car insurance” in the UK:
Page value (per month equivalent media value on AHREFS):
Compare The Market: $4m: https://ahrefs.com/site- explorer/overview/v2/prefix/live?target=www.comparethemarket.com%2Fcar- insurance%2F
MoneySuperMarket: $1.8m: https://ahrefs.com/site- explorer/overview/v2/prefix/live?target=www.moneysupermarket.com%2Fcar- insurance%2F
If you’re GoCompare what would you pay for an extra $1.4m per month ($16.8m per year) of value? Just for improving performance on one page! MoneySuperMarket’s growth opportunity is worth $2.2m per month ($26.6m annually.) We then start to see the huge value available and just why it’s so competitive.
Backlink quality / quantity:
- Distrelec: UR:36, DR:60, total backlinks: 36k, referring domains: 31k
- RS Components: UR:56, DR:81, total backlinks: 169k, referring domains: 77k
- Mouser UR:41, DR:57, total backlinks: 60.9k, referring domains: 2k
- Farnell: UR:51, DR:79, total backlinks: 173k, referring domains: 88k
In other words, Farnell are strongest in links, RS Components 2nd, Mouser 3rd and Distrelec 4th. So if you’re Farnell, more links probably isn’t the route to success (certainly not guaranteed anyway).If you look into these sites, they all have pretty solid technical SEO and on-site content. I could go deeper, but for the purpose of this let’s say they’re relatively
What is it that’s missing? In my view there’s always going to be small marginal gains that make a difference, certainly in competitive categories the difference between ranking first vs second and third is huge. It’s like the difference between winning the Premier League vs qualifying for the Champions League.
But you have to look at where Google are really going with things to make a big difference, over the years that normally points back to reputation, popularity and relevance factors or E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) if you prefer. In the above case:
- Expertise (or reputation in my language) means who wrote the article and is the domain its on credible? If you think back to the Google+ / authorship days (yes, I’m older than I look), Google wanted to rank content not just based on where it was published, but who wrote it. E.g. you could be a New York Times best seller writing an article on Forbes, or you could be writing your 4th ever post…
- Authority (or popularity) is the reputation of that brand. I think people interpret this too much as meaning domain/link authority, which is almost certainly a factor going back to day 1 of (Larry) PageRank. But I don’t think it’s the only one by a long shot. Do you have content in the surrounding areas of this topic that make you an authority voice? And hugely importantly, what is the popularity of your brand in the real world outside of link metrics?
- Trust (or relevance) is specific to your space – taking the above example, if you’re featured in the national media press every day, but never mentioned in financial publications, that’s likely to be an SEO footprint / red flag to someone at Google who has a big important button they can press (or the more dull/ realistic version = a ML driven algorithm). I also think velocity/relevancy is important here too, if you have a brand which has a strong domain but hasn’t been linked to for a long time, it makes sense that there’s a relevancy bias (e.g. a fast paced challenger bank vs more inactive high street bank).
Again, I could go further with this – but to keep to the point, I think the more you analyse, the more you have to look for the big wins instead of the small ones – otherwise we could end up chasing our tail (especially in a space where everyone closely monitors/copies each other).
The big win here in my opinion is brand popularity. Take a look at this Google Trends graph to see what I mean, data below:
- Distrelec: 13
- RS Components: 80
- Mouser: 58
- Farnell: 53
I’ve chosen Google Trends, because in terms of assessing brand popularity it would make sense that Google bases this on their own internal search demand data (obviously not Google Trends itself, but that will be the public sharable view driven from their data).If your brand popularity is 2-4x lower than the market leader, that feels like the biggest thing you can fix right now?
Interestingly this reflects the order of market share (both in Google for the “Brand Name” term, and AHREFS page value – because of search volume, the two are very closely related of course).
In my view, by all means we need to be levelling the playing field as much as we can in terms of technical SEO, on-site content and link reputation. Everyone wants that silver bullet in SEO, personally I think the investment in the brand is just as important and really counts.
Brand doesn’t have to mean brute force media by the way, there could be other creative ways to spark people into searching for your brand online and building popularity (social media, PR awareness, building an audience with content, email, online video channels, offline ads, word of mouth etc), plus how memorable (or catchy/annoying) the ad is itself, but I do think TV advertising at this level will still drive a large % of this.
I’ve also seen this in other sectors – e.g. a Car Insurance brand with terrible SEO, poor link reputation and minimal content punching way above their weight for competitive phrases, where you’d expect they’d have no right to rank. The only factor I could find behind why = they run TV ads and have a high popularity of branded searches.