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Are Brand Mentions Important to Google’s Algorithm?

Google's John Mueller answers if brand mentions are important to Google's algorithm

Are brand mentions important to Google's algorithm?

Google’s John Mueller was asked if “unlinked brand mentions” were important in Google’s algorithm. It was apparent from John’s response that “brand mentions” is probably not a real thing in Google’s algorithm, but he also said that there may be value to site visitors who encounter them.

Brand Mentions

There is a longstanding idea in the SEO community that Google uses mentions of a website as a form of link.

One version of the idea is that if someone publishes a URL like this, but without making it a link, that Google probably counts it as a link. This is the unlinked URL idea, that a published URL can be used as a link by Google. There was never any proof or basis of for brand mentions, it was pure speculation. That idea then morphed into the speculation that maybe Google used the mention of a website name as a ranking factor..

Then Bill Slawski  wrote about a patent that mentioned something called an “implied link” and other SEOs picked up on it and used the phrase out of the context to justify their speculation and many subsequent articles were written based on that out of context phrase, even though Slawski opposed that mistaken reading of the phrase.

Google’s John Mueller Discussing Unlinked Brand Mentions

Google's John Mueller discussing unlinked brand mentions


John Mueller on Unlinked Brand Mentions and Google’s Algorithm

John Mueller discussing unlinked brand mentions

Question About Unlinked Brand Mentions

The question about brand mentions had a lot of background information to unpack in order to better understand the question that John Mueller answered. One interesting thing to note is that John Mueller has no idea of what “brand mentions” are and the likely reason is because it’s not a thing at Google.

Here is the question that was asked:

“In some articles I see people are speaking about unlinked brand mention.

I want to know your opinion in this case.

Do you think it’s also important for algorithm, unlinked brand mention?”

Are Brand Mentions Important to Google’s Algorithm?

The concept of “brand mentions” appeared to be  unclear to John Mueller.

So Mueller, asked a follow up question:

“How do you mean, “brand mentions?”

The person asking the question elaborated on what he meant:

“It’s like another website and article speaking about my website brand, but it doesn’t link to me.”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know.

I think that’s kind of tricky because we don’t really know what the context is there.

I mean, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, just for users.

Because if they can find your website through that mention, then that’s always a good thing.

But I wouldn’t assume that there’s like some… I don’t know… SEO factor that is trying to figure out where someone is mentioning your website name.”

Brand Mentions Are Not an SEO Factor

John Mueller confirmed that brand mentions are not a search engine optimization factor.

Given that the foundation of the “brand mentions” idea is built on one paragraph of a patent that’s been taken out of context, I would hope the SEO community will set aside the idea that “brand mentions” are an SEO factor.

Mueller did say that brand mentions can be useful for helping users become aware of a website. And I agree that’s a good way to think about brand mentions as a way to get the word out about a website.

But brand mentions are not an SEO factor.

Just Because it’s in a Patent Doesn’t Mean it’s in Use

One last note about the patent that mentions “reference queries.”

It’s important to understand that something isn’t necessarily in use by Google just because it appears in a patent or a research paper.

Google could be using it or maybe not. Another consideration is that this is an older patent and Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing.


Read the Patent from 2012

Ranking Search Results

Watch Google’s John Mueller Answer About Brand Mentions

Watch at 12:01 minute mark:

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Roger Montti Owner - at

I have 25 years hands-on experience in SEO and have kept on  top of the evolution of search every step ...

Are Brand Mentions Important to Google’s Algorithm?

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