If there’s one thing we know for sure is that Google likes strong brands. It often gives such brands preferential treatment. Solid brands get higher rankings with fewer links, and in case of improper conduct, they get penalized but then resurface on the web just a few weeks later.

If there’s one thing we know for sure is that Google likes strong brands. It often gives such brands preferential treatment. Solid brands get higher rankings with fewer links, and in case of improper conduct, they get penalized but then resurface on the web just a few weeks later.

The same doesn’t hold true for smaller brands. They need to work twice as hard to get half of what large brands get. And if they make one false step, they risk disappearing forever.

That’s why building a strong brand should be at the center of every SEO strategy. Why are big brands so powerful in terms of SEO? Read on to find out more about the power of branding and learn how to take advantage of these insights for your SEO strategy.

SERPs are changing all the time

Google is always updating and reviewing the conditions for SERPs. But SEO experts shouldn’t just pay attention to algorithm updates. In fact, layout adjustments are just as significant.

Consider featured snippets that have been gaining steam recently. According to Moz,


But then many brands saw a decrease in featured snippets in a matter of mere days.  

What caused that? For starters, knowledge panels received a serious boost in visibility.

For example, a search term like “software development” would once be a featured snippet but now it assumes the form of knowledge panel. Even a generic search term such as “fashion” will get you a knowledge panel on Google. The research study from Moz revealed that there was a 30% increase in knowledge panels for SERPs without previously having a featured snippet.

So what exactly is Google playing at? It’s simple. It’s trying to deliver the best answer to the user’s inquiry. And search engines do that by using content created by others. However, thanks to knowledge panels, Google doesn’t require users to click on that content to view the source.

Consider that, once upon a time, if you typed “fashion” to Google you would get results from major fashion portals, fashion blogs, and Wikipedia. Today, Google will pool all the data directly to SERPs. And you can bet that most of this content will be coming from large brands and authoritative sources. By doing that, Google narrows down the pool of valuable content to just a few large brands. And users don’t even need to click on the organic listing to get that information.

Unfortunately, only one source can be featured in a particular knowledge panel. Today, only 60% of Google searches result in a click. That means that 40% of people who see a search engine listing doesn’t click on it.

We believe that the number of people who click to reach the original source will be decreasing shortly. And that’s bad news for smaller brands. Google’s new implementation of the knowledge panel shows users content without the need to click on it – and most brands ranking in knowledge panels are the big guys. That means smaller brands will receive fewer clicks, less traffic, and less organically driven sales.

Brand recognition is critical to SEO

All it takes is typing in a long-tail obscure keyword phrase for a given industry, and you’re guaranteed to get SERPs filled with brand names. Even if other websites are ranking at the top of the page, most users are going to skip them right over and check the familiar sites they know. It’s like choosing generic brands versus well-known brands like Coca-Cola or Lays.

Brand recognition is key to every marketing strategy. And now it’s also critical for SEO. Brand recognition can be so robust that it allows brands to stop competing for top ranking on Google. These brands thrive because consumers trust them. They gain consumers’ trust by investing in marketing strategies that focus on online visibility.

It’s easier to trust a brand you know than one you’re hearing about for the first time. And that’s even more relevant in the case of customers who want to buy a new product – according to Nielsen; most people buy from brands they know. In fact, 60% of consumers will buy new products from a familiar brand they recall rather than choose a new brand.

Marketing experts have known for a very long time that trust is a critical factor in making a purchase decision. And today the same holds true for organic search results. Users are going to click on results coming from brands they know and trust. So it’s all about branding again.

Moreover, branding ensures that organic search results stand out from the crow. Type in any keyword phrase, and you’ll probably get at least ten results that look very similar, if not exactly the same. That means users are choosing from 10 identical results – you can be sure that they’re going to click on content from brands they know. That’s the only thing that sets these results apart.

For example, if users consider Forbes as a source of quality information, they’re going to click on content served by the portal. Interestingly, brands don’t always serve content of top quality, but they still get the clicks. A research study from Search Engine Land and Survey Monkey showed that 


There’s no way around it: the stronger the brand recognition, the higher the number of generated clicks.

Click-through rates are now more important than search rankings

If you’re crafting out your SEO strategy to land on the first page of search results, your goal might not bring you the results you seek. Ranking number one in search results isn’t what it used to be anymore. It might seem that securing a high position in search rankings is a straight path to getting a lot of organic clicks – but that’s not true.

You might have fantastic content and work a lot to get up there. But if your brand isn’t recognizable, users might not give you a chance. And the click-through rate has more impact than traditional rankings – not to mention the fact that it has an impact on rankings as well. Links and content are still the top direct ranking factors, but the SERP click-through rate is becoming an indirect factor Google values more and more

For example, if Google notices that a website located on the first position in search results isn’t generating clicks, it will assume that the site doesn’t offer quality content and reduce its position. Getting more clicks results in a significant ranking boost. Research from WordStream shows that the higher the organic click-through rate on a result for a given inquiry, the more likely the result will appear higher in organic listing.


So how do you use this knowledge to your advantage?

By focusing on branding as part of your SEO strategy and putting more effort in branding, you will drive higher click-through rates in organic SERPs that will correlate with higher conversion rate and get you to the top results on Google.

One way to do it is by using cost-effective social ads that drive brand awareness – Facebook stands out here as an excellent tool. Use these ads to build a reputation for your brand and drive traffic to your content. Also, don’t forget to produce fantastic content for users to interact with – after all, you need to deliver on the promise you’re making in your ads.

The takeaway

Branding has always been somewhat important to SEO, but today it’s more critical than ever. Google is clearly giving strong brands preferential treatment, and that tendency becomes more visible with every update.

That’s why branding is the best direction for any SEO campaign today. Smaller brands need to invest more of their SEO budgets into branding strategies to gain a solid reputation and boost brand recall among their target audiences to drive traffic, boost click-through rates, and generate more sales.