The search world has been abuzz for the past week or two with the news that Google now prefers brands in its search results, giving sites owned by big brands a sudden boost in rankings in the latest algorithm update.
This week, Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team, recorded a YouTube video for the Google Webmaster Central channel explaining the changes.
"I don't think of it as putting more weight on brands. We really don't think about 'brands' in Search Quality that much," Cutts says. "It's not that we try to always return brands. We try to return whatever we think the best results are for users."
Cutts says the change, referred to internally as "Vince's Change," for the team member that worked on it, is not big enough to be considered an update. Rather, it's one of over 300 or 400 changes to its ranking algorithms that Google makes every year, which affects a relatively small number of queries, he said.
For webmasters, this change shouldn't have a big effect on the way they go about their business, according to Cutts.
"The net upshot of this change is pretty simple. We try to return high-quality results, we think a lot about trust, reputation, authority, PageRank. And so, what you should be doing doesn't change: try to make a great site. Try to make it a site that is so fantastic that you become known as an authority in your niche," Cutts said. "And it doesn't have to be a big niche. It doesn't have to be a huge, well known keyword. It can be a smaller niche, and if you're still the expert, that's the sort of thing that people are going to want to link to, that they'll talk about, the sort of thing people really enjoy. Those are the sorts of sites, the experts, that we want to bring back."