Google Debunks SEO Myth: Branded Keywords Won’t Hurt Rankings

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Recently, Google’s Search Liaison responded to inquiries regarding the use of branded keywords in articles. The exchange, conducted via multiple tweets, focused on the implications of mentioning specific brand names in content such as product reviews.

Content creator Jake Boly raised concerns about his articles, which contained original content but were consistently ranking on pages 3-4 of search results. He speculated whether this was influenced by the inclusion of branded terms.

This discussion ignited a broader conversation about SEO strategies and how Google’s algorithms assess and rank content.

Conflicting Advice from SEO Experts

SEO professional Taleb Kabbara cautioned against using branded keywords like “New Balance” in review titles, suggesting that such practices could potentially harm search engine rankings. Based on his audits of various websites, Kabbara noted instances where the inclusion of branded terms had led to negative impacts on rankings.

Google’s Official Response

Google’s Search Liaison countered these assertions with a detailed response, stating unequivocally:

“There’s no reason to avoid mentioning the brand name of a product you’re reviewing. This is precisely what readers anticipate, and our algorithms aim to promote content that enhances the user experience.”

The representative from Google clarified that omitting the brand name from a review would contradict the purpose of such content. They underscored that Google’s algorithms prioritize content that genuinely benefits readers, irrespective of whether it includes branded keywords.

Evidence Supporting Google’s Stance

To reinforce their stance, the Google Search Liaison presented evidence from a specific search query: “new balance minimus tr v2 review.”

They pointed out that the top-ranking result for this query was not from a major brand but from an individual reviewer. This example illustrated Google’s ability to prioritize and rank independent content that is relevant and beneficial to users, emphasizing that helpful and informative content, regardless of the source, can achieve top search rankings.

Reaffirming Best Practices

The discussion shifted further when Mike Hardaker shared advice he had received about losing rankings for branded keywords. Google’s Search Liaison responded directly, saying, “Yes, avoid that,” reaffirming their position against excluding branded terms from content.

Why SEJ Cares

This exchange clarifies a misconception with clear communication from Google regarding its approach to ranking content that includes branded keywords. It serves as a reminder to publishers that focusing on creating high-quality content for readers is more beneficial than trying to manipulate rankings by avoiding certain terms.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal