Ok here's a million dollar question: Why is a high-authority website (Kicksta.co – DR72) not appearing on the search results if you do a search using the exact brand name?
According to the Google Keyword Planner, "kicksta" has a search volume of 246,000.
However, it seems Google is treating "kicksta" as a spelling mistake for "kickstarter", which probably makes sense until you realize that the Kicksta website is not even on Page 2, not on Page 5, not even on Page 10! Is this a Google algorithm flaw?
Again, let me emphasize that Kicksta is a well-established website that is ranking on Page 1 for numerous high search volume keywords but not for their branded keyword.
SEO professionals, let me hear your thoughts.
3 👍🏽335 💬🗨
This is a great example of Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) (and Moz Domain Authority (DA)) being utterly useless metrics in and of themselves.
Sure… they've invested a bunch of time and money into getting links and driving up that DR. But they've done exactly ZERO work on getting their brand established as an entity. And whatever inbound links they have that drive up the DR aren't actually helping the brand itself at all.
So basically, in Google's eyes, there's one little web site called "Kicksta.co" out there. It's got a lot of links, but those links aren't really about that brand at all – so, the brand must be unimportant.
On the other hand, there are TONS of sites taking about and pointing to "kickstart" and talking about "kickstarts." Google says to itself: I don't have any entities related to "kicksta" but I've got a bunch for "kickstart" though… I bet that is what they are actually looking for.
The other, possibly more obvious answer, is that kicksta's links have been devalued by Google. They are, after all, a site that is designed to create the illusion of popularity and importance on the web – something Google kinda frowns upon. And so, while it's not a penalty that knocks them totally out of the game – the links to (and maybe from) that site are just being ignored en masse. Your Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) and Moz Domain Authority (DA) tools can't know that – so they still show a high DR, but as far as Google is concerned, that site may have exactly zero links in their profile. That would cause them to rank ONLY in cases where Google was pretty darned certain that that is the site you actually were intending to find.
And, truth be told, the reality of it is that what's happening is probably a bit of both of the possibilities I described here. What they are doing makes them look GREAT in terms of people like SEO folks looking for links, but it makes them utterly useless when it comes to actually providing any real value or even being able to rank for their own name.
Thanks Truslow. Your answers are always insightful. Much appreciated. I just have something to add though regarding links being devalued by Google. Notice on the original post that Kicksta is actually on Page 1 of the search results (and #1 even) for competitive high-search volume keywords in the social media space. So that angle is definitely not in play.
Also, Google Search Console (GSC) sees a lot of clicks for "kicksta" so the assumption is that it is appearing high on SERPs but it's weird because rank tracking tools are not seeing the site within top 100 results.
Well, it's still an obvious exact match search result. The fact that it can't even rank top for that suggests that it may very well be in play.
I can (and have) launched sites with a new company with no links, no brand awareness, and get it ranking for its domain name in less than an hour. Sometimes there is confusion (like there is with kicsta – Showing results for Kickstart) but I can still hit the first page. In an hour. Zero links.
AND… I've never had the "Showing Results for…" message showing for longer than 2 weeks.
Though I did have one that was a name very similar to MANY other brands – but still unique – that had a "Did you mean…?" message that showed for a little over a month before I could get it established. That one can be tougher to overcome, though. It's not just establishing that you're real – but also that someone in their right mind would be searching for you.
The "Showing Results for <something totally different>" one is easy to overcome with just a couple links and citations and should – with very minimal effort – go away after a couple weeks or less.
So… yeah… I'm still going with my assessment. In full.
Well, the fact that it even outranks pages from Hubspot, Shopify, SproutSocial and other well-established websites for multiple highly-competitive high-search volume keywords in the social media space suggests otherwise. It's only the branded keyword that's facing this oddity. But, as always, I respect your opinion. Thanks!
James » Truslow
With DA and DR being defined as useless but there are key ingredients that go into making the #s. Right? Are those worthless too? I understand the # can be useless itself because you could have high DR but poor onsite SEO and several other things too. I know you always have your stance on it being useless and I fully respect that I just want to have an understanding of why it is useless.
Moz Domain Authority (DA) and Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) are calculated based upon a formula that those tool companies completely made up. It works very closely to how PageRank worked – 15 years ago. It's not at all how PageRank works today. It takes no consideration into context. They don't take into consideration "where" the link appears (for example: they give the same value to a footer link as a content link – Google does not). They have no idea how Google ACTUALLY values a link and credits it… they merely guess at it.
It's like this…
Let's say Google makes race cars instead of link network evaluation algorithms. And let's say that you're trying to make a Google Car. You know pretty much how Google makes the drive train for the car, but that's all you really know beyond what the car looks like on the outside. You sort of know how an engine is made – but since you can't look under the hood, you don't know for sure what Google has under there. You're not even sure how many horsepower it is. You sort of know how the exhaust system works, but you can't look under the car so you have to guess at that, too. Every other aspect is the same. You can only guess how they did it.
Now with that – you can make a car that LOOKS like it might be a car that came off Google's assembly line – and your drive train will work similarly to the one on a Google Car. But that's where it stops. The car is not at all the same, it will not perform the same, nor will it even provide a good simulation for you to test how a Google car might compete against other kinds of cars. It only impresses people who like to look at cars.
THAT is why they are generally useless metrics.
I've posted this same question in several Facebook and LinkedIn groups and I am starting to see a trend in the responses. Quite a few SEO users tell me that they see it rank #1 in other countries, just not in the US. This makes sense to me because I see thousands of clicks for the search term on GSC. Can a few more of you guys do a simple test and let me know please?
That's another shortcoming of DADR too…
A link from the US to a site that only does business in the UK won't really have much value in Google's eyes.
Conversely, a site that is global but has no links from a certain country isn't going to have as much ranking power in those countries where the link profile is absent. In this case, that lack of value is so apparent that Google assumes you couldn't possibly be actually searching for Kicksta.
DADR don't account for that at all.
I agree with what you say. Although, that doesn't really apply here. It's quite the opposite, and that's why it's very odd. This is a US company, primarily serving the US, and with a backlink profile that's predominantly US-centric. The problem is, it's not ranking in the US but apparently #1 for searches done in other countries. Doesn't add up.
So first and foremost one thing that I see a lot of people not thinking about is the fact when searching for an "entity" they search like kicksta instead of Kicksta.
When searching for a business just like a person's name it should be capitalized. Non-caps trigger a spelling error but with a capital K, it's viewed as you are searching for a specific entity.
So as a result you get two separate results one showing you spelled something wrong and one showing you found the entity you were searching for.