Using Branded Keywords Doesn’t Harm Your Rankings

  • June 26, 2024
  • SEO
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In a recent dialogue, Google’s Search Liaison addressed industry concerns surrounding the inclusion of branded keywords in online articles.

The discourse, which played out over several tweets, primarily focused on the implications of mentioning specific brand names in product reviews and other web content.

Jake Boly, a content creator, initiated the discussion by questioning why his articles, despite their unique content, persistently ranked on the third and fourth pages of search results. He speculated that the use of branded terms might be a contributing factor.

This conjecture led to an extensive debate on SEO best practices and Google’s ranking algorithms.

Conflicting Advice from SEO Experts

SEO expert Taleb Kabbara proposed that mentioning branded keywords could negatively impact search rankings. He cautioned against using terms like “new balance” in review titles.

Kabbara claimed to have conducted numerous site audits and observed adverse ranking effects due to the presence of branded keywords.

Google’s Official Response

Google’s Search Liaison countered these claims, providing a detailed response:

“No, you shouldn’t be afraid to mention the brand name of something you are reviewing. It’s literally what readers would expect you to do, and our systems are trying to reward things that are helpful to readers.”

The Google representative explained that producing a review without citing the reviewed product would be counterintuitive. They emphasized that Google’s algorithms aim to surface content that genuinely benefits readers, regardless of the inclusion of branded terms.

Evidence Supporting Google’s Stance

To bolster their argument, the Search Liaison referenced a specific search query for “new balance minimus tr v2 review.” They pointed out that the top result for this query came from an individual reviewer rather than a major brand, showcasing that Google can rank independent content when it is relevant and valuable.

Reaffirming Best Practices

The discussion further evolved when Mike Hardaker shared that he had received advice against using branded keywords, claiming this was the reason for not ranking highly. Google’s Search Liaison quickly responded, “Yeah, don’t do that,” thereby reaffirming their viewpoint against avoiding branded terms in content.

Why This Matters to SEO Professionals

This exchange highlights and clarifies a significant misconception with direct input from Google concerning its protocols for ranking content with branded keywords. It serves as a reminder to publishers to focus on creating high-quality, reader-centric content rather than attempting to manipulate the system by avoiding specific terms.


Featured Image: Jack_the_sparow/Shutterstock

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