The Brand Factor
What is it?
This term originates from the Searchmetrics Whitepaper "Rebooting Ranking Factors" (available here, and well worth reading).
The paper mentions the Brand Factor in passing, and uses this graphical representation of their (very impressive) data.
landing pages in the top positions are significantly more relevant for the submitted search query than URLs which Google features less prominently. Exceptions to this rule – as is so often the case – are to be found at the first and second positions, which are mostly taken up by brands that Google rewards according to the "brand factor" ... Google values recognizability... trust and brand image, and reflects this in the SERPs...
The most relevant, best quality content for a given search query is very often down in 3rd place.
The quality of the 2nd placed result is about equivalent to the quality of the 7th placed result.
Searchmetrics have dubbed this the Brand Factor. The concept is very, very powerful.
Why is it important?
It changes the evaluation of content quality
Google sets lower requirements on the quality of content from Brand Factor sites than the requirement for the rest of the field. From the graphic above, it would seem the requirement is quite a lot lower.
With lower quality content, a Brand Factor site can consistently outrank its competition across many topics and keywords.
Take a moment to reflect on that.
Note : That doesn’t mean "go ahead and write bad content". The content still needs to be good enough to rank top 5, so it still has to be very good. It just doesn’t have to the best.
How can I become a Brand Factor site for my market?
The five C’s of success
In order to grant you the Brand Factor advantage, Google needs to understand who you are, what you do, that you are reliable, that your clients (or users) appreciate your offers. You will then be in a position of certinence.
How long will it take?
As with anything worth having, this doesn’t come quickly. It requires steady, diligent work over a long period. Depending on where you are starting from and the competition in your market, you can expect this to take anything from a year upwards. Less than a year is unrealistic.
Convincing Google to trust you absolutely requires that you feed it an immense amount of positive, coherent information about you... and that you generate confirmation from multiple reliable sources. That takes time. Plus, don’t forget, you are asking Google to change its "mind" about who dominates your market. That is a LOT to ask.
What are the Rewards?
The potential rewards are enormous. Given that one place higher in the rankings brings about 50% more traffic, a site that currently occupies an average 5th place in their market would expect to triple their traffic by becoming the Brand Factor site on that market.
What is the Catch?
There is no downside, no risk and no catch.
Worst case scenario: lots of links, lots of wonderful client reviews, lots of great press... and become much more credible to both Google and your potential clients.