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

Google debunks SEO myth: Using branded keywords in content doesn't harm rankings.

  • Google confirms using branded keywords won't hurt search rankings.
  • Content quality and relevance to readers are more important than keyword manipulation.

In a recent exchange, Google’s Search Liaison addressed concerns about using branded keywords in articles.

The discussion, which unfolded over several tweets, centered on the impact of mentioning specific brand names in product reviews and other content.

Jake Boly, a content creator, initially asked why his articles featuring unique content consistently ranked on pages 3-4 of search results, speculating that it might be due to the presence of branded terms.

This sparked a debate about SEO best practices and Google’s ranking algorithms.

Conflicting Advice from SEO Experts

Taleb Kabbara, an SEO professional, suggested mentioning branded keywords could harm rankings, advising against using terms like “new balance” in review titles.

He claimed to have audited numerous sites and observed negative ranking impacts due to such keywords.

Google’s Official Response

Google’s Search Liaison refuted these claims.

In a detailed response, they stated:

“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 writing a review without mentioning the product being reviewed would be counterintuitive.

They emphasized that Google’s systems aim to find and rank content that’s genuinely useful to readers, regardless of using branded terms.

Evidence Supporting Google’s Stance

To further support their point, the Liaison provided evidence from a specific search query for “new balance minimus tr v2 review.”

They highlighted that the top result for this query was not from a big brand but from an individual reviewer, demonstrating that Google can rank independent content when it’s relevant and helpful.

Reaffirming Best Practices

The conversation took an additional turn when Mike Hardaker shared advice he had received about no longer ranking for branded keywords. Google’s Search Liaison responded succinctly, “Yeah, don’t do that,” reaffirming their stance against avoiding branded terms in content.

Why SEJ Cares

This exchange clarifies a misconception with direct communication from Google on its approach to ranking content containing branded keywords.

It reminds publishers to write the best content for readers rather than attempt to game the system by avoiding specific terms.


Featured Image: Jack_the_sparow/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
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SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

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

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