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Matt Cutts talks about the Brandy Update

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 20:28

..erm.. I mean 'Vince's Simple Change'

Hey kids... Matt put up a vid as part of the grab bag series and focuses on the 'Brandy' update (funniest name I heard so far, going with it)

I decided to quickly transcribe it for you - First the video and then the transcription and a few thoughts...

As expected, he states that they aren't so much targeting brands as only certain elements were tweaked that gives this appearance. He also reiterates that it's only in certain query spaces that this is happening.

"Inside of Google, at least inside the search ranking team, we don't really think about brands. We think about words like 'trust' 'authority' 'reputation' 'PageRank' 'high quality'.

The Google philosophy on search results has been the same, pretty much forever, is that somebody comes to Google and types in X, we want to return high quality information about X. And sometimes that's a brand search, sometimes that's an informational search, sometimes it's navigational, sometimes it's transactional."

"First off, YES, Google has made a change in our rankings, it's one of over 3-400 we make very year. So, I wouldn't call it an 'update', I would call it a simple change. If you have to refer to it, one of the people that did a lot of work on it, his name is Vince. This particular change, we talk about it as 'Vince's change' within the Googleplex.

I wouldn't really call it an update, but there has been a change in how we do some rankings. It doesn't affect a vast majority of queries, it's more likely, and most people haven't noticed it. I mean Aaron talked about it and I think even before that people at WebMasterWorld were talking about it. But it affects a relatively small number of queries, it's not like it affects a ton of long-tail queries or anything like that.

I don't think of it as putting more weight on brands. We don't really think about 'brands' in search quality that much. For example if you type 'eclipse', if Google were really focused on brands we'd return 'Mitsubishi Eclipse' at number one, or something like that.

And if you actually GO to Google and type in 'eclipse', we've got cause there's a development environment. We've got Nasa's eclipse website, and then there are some commercial results. For example, 'eclipse' is the name of that book in the Twilight series, so we've got a page from Amazon.

It's not that we always try to return brands. We try to return whatever we think the best results are for users. So, the net upshot of this change is pretty simple, we try to return high quality results. We think 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 the site that is sooo fantastic that you become an authority in your niche.

And it doesn't have to be a big nice. It doesn't have to be a huge, well known, key word. It can still be a smaller niche, that's the thing people are going to want to link to, that they'll talk about, the sort of things people really enjoy. Those are the sort of sites, the experts, that we want to bring back"

Brandy Update or is it Vince?


For me... I am still seeing talk of 'query types' and 'authority' here. Sure, we really aren't learning a helluva lot beyond what we did already, I just can't shake the feeling that this is 'trust' and query dependent related.

My main candidates at this point;

1. Trust factors such as domain age
2. TrustRank type concepts (linkage)
3. Query analysis (navigational, transactional)and query context

Other items that hold potential

1. Personalized PageRank (clustering)
2. Named entities concepts (and semantic relations)
3. Historical factors (including link velocity)

So, what did YOU make of it? Wonderfully crafter political prose? Or are there nuggets in the statement that tell us anything more than we knew already?



0 # Gennady 2009-03-05 07:50
That cartoon is brilliant!

My take on all of this is the issue of semantics. Someone calls it an algorithm change while others are simply calling it a small update. The fact of the matter is that it makes absolutely not difference what you call it. Something changed.

It is pretty clear that some dial has been turned up or down and it seems like that dial is connected to characteristics shared by many big brand websites.

Of course, we are not at the point yet that our psychological interpretation of a brand is being interpreted by Google. But there are clearly some factors that these brand websites have in a common and a couple of switches have been pulled and dials turned that use those signals to score results.

I can tell you from personal experience that a MAJOR BRAND I am working with has all of their business units split up by subdomains and we have seen some very significant drops for very competitive terms. Mid-level terms have not been effected. This may speak to increased value being assigned to domain authority (whatever that is, right?).
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0 # Dave 2009-03-05 08:29
Yo ho G whadup? Like my cartoon? We just gotta have a giggle now and again...

To me, the most consistent statements have been around query spaces and authority. This could be a few things, but seems a likely starting point at least.

You anecdotal evidence on a large brand U manage kind of kills the idea of global link valuations as I'd imagine sub-domains of strong brands would benefit not be hurt by such a move.

I have no doubts of Matt's assertion that it isn't 'brand specific' per se as that simply doesn't make sense (from an IR perspective at least).

I've been watching the tin-foil hat posts that have since sprung up and it's amazing how people read so much 'cloak and dagger' into something that is far simpler and obviously targeted at the user experience not corp. agendas

The jury is still out...
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0 # Gennady 2009-03-05 08:36
If you play Matt's video backwards, he is clearly admitting to taking bribes from Bernard Madoff, Ken Lay, and Osama Bin Laden.
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0 # Rick Vidallon 2009-03-05 15:28
I always have chanted the mantra; 'it's all about the content'. Matt helps to drive this point home.
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0 # Lenen 2009-03-12 04:22
I think it has more to do with domain age, time indexed and pagerank than brand names or what so ever.
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0 # Jeff Turner 2009-04-14 05:43
Hey Gennady, quite funny, talking about bribes. The simple funda is quality and the rate of new inbound links always matters
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+1 # Himanshu 2009-05-14 08:08
Matt cuts response to that initial point is this:
"I wasn't familiar with this one, so I dropped an email to Ola Rosling, the Googler employee who wrote the blog post announcement," says Cutts. "It turns out that there
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0 # Guest 2009-05-25 14:46
:sad: :s :s :woohoo: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:
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0 # Jey Pandian 2010-09-01 06:42
Thanks for the transcript - appreciate it Dave.
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