News & Insights


How Major Brand Names Do SEO (And How to Beat Them)

pwd staff OLIVER WOOD
Oliver Wood

|10th May 2016

Type in any keyword into Google and chances are you will see a major brand name in the top results or at the very least on the front page. The reason why is primarily due to recent changes in the ranking algorithm that heavily favor brands.

Brand names are gaining prominence in the search results.

Type in any keyword into Google and chances are you will see a major brand name in the top results or at the very least on the front page. The reason why is primarily due to recent changes in the ranking algorithm that heavily favor brands.

It certainly makes sense to favor brand names.

After all, Google strives to deliver the most relevant results. But equally important is the quality of the content. If a news story is breaking out which would you trust more, a major news publication that has been around for over a decade or a relatively new site? Probably the former and this is why Google tends to rank brand names higher.

Major brands also have significant competitive advantages which include:

  • Recognition: Companies such as Apple, Coca Cola, and McDonalds have brands that are instantly recognisable. These are brands that have already established trust and credibility with a global audience.
  • Bigger budgets: Another harsh reality is that major brands spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising alone. A significant amount is undoubtedly spent on SEO services and pushing rankings up for extremely competitive keywords.
  • Larger teams: It is not uncommon for large companies to have in-house marketing teams that manage their entire SEO campaigns. Small business owners typically do not have the same advantage.
  • Domain authority: Google puts a great deal of weight on domain authority. You could still rank with a relatively new site but you would have a much higher climb to hill than a major brand would.

These all combine together to give brands a major advantage in the search results.

How Big Brands Do SEO

Big brands already have a significant advantage so they tend to do SEO a little differently. Here are some of the things they do:

  • They sometimes ignore the basics: On-page factors are important to increase the relevance of your pages. But bigger brands typically don’t need to worry about these aspects. Because of their strength, they can still rank for a number of keywords even if their pages are not optimised for them.
  • They focus on short keywords: Bigger brands tend to focus on more competitive keywords (e.g. credit cards, lawyers, smartphones, etc.) instead of long tail keywords in their campaigns.
  • They invest in content: Because they have such substantial budgets, larger brands can afford to produce amazing content on a regular basis from digital guides to video tutorials and more. This gives them even more linkable assets on their web pages.

It seems almost impossible for smaller companies to have any hope of competing with larger brands online. But the good news is that it’s entirely possible to rank for competitive keywords in the search results and drive targeted traffic to your pages.

Here we look at how to outrank major brands in search.

1. Focus on Long Tail Keywords

Competing on high-volume keywords is a losing strategy.

Brands have the budget and the patience to rank for them. Attempting to rank for them would simply be a waste of your marketing efforts (and budget). So a better approach is to target long tail keywords which actually account for a majority of search traffic.


Longer tail keywords not only have a better chance of converting but they are also less competitive. For example, someone searching for “digital cameras for landscape photography” would be far more likely to convert than someone searching for just “digital cameras”. Bigger brands tend to focus more on head tail keywords which leaves you with a perfect opportunity to target and rank for long tail keywords.

2. Establish Authority With Engaging Content

Content matters.

But equally important is the quality.

Simply posting content that has been rehashed together does not provide any value. This is exactly the type of content that Google wants to avoid displaying in the search results. But if you create high quality content that delivers engaging and comprehensive information, you stand a much better chance of ranking higher than big brands.

So how do you come up with ideas?

You know your industry better than most. So create content that answers some of the most frequently asked questions in your niche. You could also find additional content ideas by looking to see what keywords get searched for the most, browsing new posts on social media, and even going through new threads on relevant forums.

The key though is to focus on quality. Engaging posts are far more likely to get to linked to from other sources and attract more search engine traffic as a result.

3. Target Local Search

Google tends to favour local businesses for searches that have local intent (e.g. SEO marketing company in Perth). This is often the quickest way to rank at the top of the search results as bigger brands often overlooked these types of keywords. So you need to focus more of your marketing efforts here if your target market is primarily local.

Here is a strategy to rank your website in local search:

  • Optimise your pages: Do not underestimate the difference that optimised pages can have on your rankings. Take your target keywords and append a city name and include them in your title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and throughout your content. But remember not to over optimise your pages.
  • Create a profile on Google My Business: A profile on Google My Business is simply a must as it increases visibility for your business on Search, Maps, and Google+. Fill out all the details on your profile and make sure to verify that you are the owner of the business. Take some time to fill out all the fields as it helps your listing stand out more.
  • Build relevant links: Links continue to carry a great deal of weight in the search results. But it is important that you build quality links from relevant sources. If you part of an industry board or other organisation, ask for a link back along with details about your business. These are incredibly powerful links that will help your pages rank higher in local search.

While it is true that Google tends to favour major brands, implementing these tips above can give your site (regardless of its size) a competitive advantage online. But always focus your efforts on quality and relevance as these two factors are essential to securing top rankings in the search results.