John Mueller made an interesting comment in a Google+ hangout a couple of weeks ago regarding whether or not Google is giving any weight to unlinked brand mentions when it comes to ranking those brand’s websites. In other words, if one site is talking about a brand but the site in question never happens to link to it, does Google give any weight at all to that brand’s website even if a link to the site doesn’t exist?
John’s response was a bit interesting. He says Google does not regard it as a primary ranking factor. Yes, not as a primary one.
The question was asked specifically regarding whether it was possible Google was linking mere brand mentions without the URL being included and whether Google was somehow matching them up and basing the search results on it.
I think this comes back to the comment if someone randomly mentions your brand in a text somewhere, is that something we pick up as a link. And the answer there is no, we don’t pick it up as a link.
We don’t pass any kind of a page rank just because someone mentions your brand. If you have a URL of course, that is something people can link to if they want to do that. But if someone is just mentioning your brand, that is not something we’d pick up as a link.
There might be indirect effects where if someone is talking about your brand then that’s something that might bring traffic indirectly to your website, which indirectly could bring more traffic to your site. But its not the case where we’d use that as a primary ranking factor and say people are talking about this brand, therefor it must be a fantastic brand.
The indirect effects he mentions is very true. Simply because someone is talking about your brand but never links it, that is still someone talking about your brand that could lead a reader to do a Google search to find the brand’s website and visit it, and who could also potentially write something about the brand later and include one of those coveted links.
However, the mention of not being used as a “primary” ranking factor is an interesting one. Is it a minor signal? Or was he just emphasizing that it is not used.
Another question takes this a bit further and directly asks whether Google is making any association with unlinked brand mentions and a specific topic area.
I could imagine that maybe there’s some algorithms that do something exotic like that but I don’t think that’s anything where you’d see any kind of visible change in the search results from that. It might help us to understand things a little bit more, but you are talking about the tiny little thing where we can’t really say this is like a primary ranking factor.
It’s such a vague element, what do they mean about mentioning your brand? Do they say this is a terrible website or do they say its a great website?
How should we take that into account? It’s really kind of tricky.
So while Google might take notice that a website is mentioning your brand, they don’t seem to be attaching that fact with a related topic or trying to decide algorithmically whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.
Of course, it is worth it focusing on all those other signals that make up the Google search algo as well, something not everyone does with the greater focus on both Panda and Penguin, and now the Quality (aka Phantom 2) update.
Here is the video:
H/T to Deep Crawl via Glenn Gabe.
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