The reason Google must treat brands differently is simple and can best be illustrated by one question…
You haven’t linked to Google.com because everyone knows what it is
If you linked to Google every time you said “google” it would be quite tiring. You don’t link to Google.com and you have not linked to it in quite some time. You speak alot about Google, but you don’t link to it.
Let’s look a little closer at this, because trends are important to Google.
1. When a new website or brand comes out people write about it and link to it in predictable ways
When Google came out, many people were impressed by it and they spoke about it in a certain way and they always linked to it when they mentioned it, because they were sharing a new resource and wanted to point people to it.
2. As a website or brand grows in popularity, the way it is linked to is not as predictable
This is where most websites find themselves. Since some people may know about the brand or site, people who write about it are still likely to link to it, but are less likely to use the exact anchor text as they did. A good example of this would be when you linked to “twitter.com” (when it was well used, but before it became a household name) the anchor text you used was likely to be “Twitter”, not “Twitter.com” which is a very different thing.
3. When a brand or site becomes widely known the way people link to it and speak about it becomes predictable again.
Because they stop linking to it. Just like you don’t link to “google.com” anymore, other people do not link to well known things because it just doesn’t make much sense. People also start talking about it always as “google” or “twitter” rather than “google.com” or “twitter.com” and the way people search for it changes in the same way.
Well known brands are linked to less
Nobody really links to “google.com” anymore, using traditional SEO theories of link votes, this would mean that Google was losing popularity. But of course, it is not.
The same can be said of people, brands, or whatever else. In the SEO world I may mention Danny Sullivan alot, but I don’t link to him. Everyone in my audience knows who he is.
Less links does not mean less relevance
Brands are mentioned all the time and are not linked to as much as they once were. This is not a sign of irrelevance, it is a sign of success. This means Google treats such things differently. The rules are tweaked, the amount of value a link has is lowered, the amount of value a mention or citation is given is increased and treated differently.
Google doesn’t treat brands differently because of some backroom deals, it does it because it has to.
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