There has been quite a lot of chatter in the SEO world the past few weeks regarding Google implementing changes to their algorithm to heavily favour branding.
Aaron Wall first blogged about the changes when he noticed certain big name brands ranking for competitive terms that had previously never ranked. These jumps in rankings were not a few small anomalies but changes across the board.
For example for the term airline tickets aa.com, delta.com, nwa.com and continental.com all gained first page rankings.
For the term auto insurance statefarm.com, nationwide.com, aaa.com, libertymutual.com and famers.com all gained first page rankings.
The terms diets found Atkins, weightwatchers and nutrisystem all land first page rankings.
It would appear that these changes are only really affecting the US based data centres at the moment however these changes will likely be rolled out globally at some point.
Matt Cutts, who works for the Search Quality group in Google and is the voice of Google when it comes down to these matters, posted a YouTube video confirming that there had indeed been some changes.
He doesn’t confirm that it is specifically orientated around Brands however he does confirm that they focus on authority, trust, reputation and PageRank.
One of the issues a lot of people are commenting about is the fact that this new changes are theoretically damaging smaller companies that have worked hard to achieve first page rankings for competitive terms. In theory Google is making it much easier for big names to rank while penalising smaller companies making the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
However the argument for the other side is that these changes should make it harder for companies to artificially manipulate the search engine results pages. In theory it should now be harder for a company solely relying on links to achieve positions for highly competitive terms.