Google’s Vince Update Produces Big Brand Rankings; Google Calls It A Trust “Change”

About a week ago, SEOs and Webmasters began noticing a significant change in how Google returned results for a certain set of keywords. Many webmasters felt Google was giving “big brands” a push in the search results. However, Matt Cutts of Google created a video that answered many questions about this “brand push.”

Let me first take you back to last week when on February 20th, a WebmasterWorld thread was created based on some SEOs noticing this change in Google. I then covered the thread at the Search Engine Roundtable on February 23rd, summarizing some of the discussion in the thread. Aaron Wall followed up that post on February 25th, with statistical data to show significant changes in the search results, pointing to evidence behind this brand push. Then we saw dozens of blog posts, discussion forum threads and Twitters from SEOs and webmasters about Google changing their algorithm to give big brands a major push in the search results.

Matt Cutts addressed these concerns in a three and a half minute video, which I have embedded below. Matt Cutts said this change is not necessarily a Google “update,” but rather what he would call a “minor change.” In fact, Matt told us a Googler named Vince created this change and they call it the “Vince change” at Google. He said it is not really about pushing brands to the front of the Google results. It is more about factoring trust more into the algorithm for more generic queries. He said most searchers won’t notice and it does not impact the long tail queries, but for some queries, Google might be factoring in things like trust, quality, PageRank and other metrics that convey the importance and value of a page, into the ranking algorithm. I guess, big brands have earned more trust than smaller brands, which is noted by all the recent chatter in our industry.

Here is the video, listen to it yourself then feel free to chime in, in our detailed Sphinn thread:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://arthurofsun arthurofsun

    The more I hear about the Vince change the less I like it. Google wants to believe that Big Brands are more “trustworthy” – which is the filter through which they see the world. But the fact is, a Big Brand is worth billions, and Big Brands have the $$ and spend hugely to defend their brand.

    What happens when there is bad word-of-mouth about a brand? Big Brand goes into triage mode and has their SEO and reputation management teams attack the problem and work to push the comments down the search rankings so they don’t appear on the first SERP. if you bias toward Big Brands, that will only allow the Big Brand to skew the result further and avoid a NPOV (to use Wikipedia’s term) from being shown to the wider community.

    This is one scenario. There are more.

    Point: Big Brands are no more “trustworthy” than you, me, or a small brand. In fact, because of their economic self-interest, they may be even less so.

    My request: Google Undo This Change.

  • http://www.antezeta.com/blog/ sean

    At least one thing seems true here. In the past, some may have felt that Google gave/gives special consideration to non-commercial (.gov, .edu..) sites in part to incent big brands to spend on AdWords.

    If big brands now have greater visibility in organic results, their incentive to spend on AdWords will be more motivated by a desire to occupy more real estate rather than from a absolute lack of visibility.

  • parneetgosal

    How is Google measuring “trust” and “authority” and how objective is this index?

  • MyBestRatedWebHosting

    I think the “Vince” update does not make sense if they are trying to push a brand in major keywords just because of only branding. For example, if the web hosting company appear when peoples do search for “web hosting” so it does make sense. How about if peoples do search for other peoples opinion like “web hosting reviews” or “best web hosting” and similar? If the brand still got ranked for those kind of search term then it does not make any sense. People who search for other ones opinion absolute not interest to see a hosting company appeared for the terms. Every company has to claim themselves they are the best with bias toward. In this case, Google does not deliver the result that people really looking for.

    Branding can have advantage but it should make some sense too.

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