It’s been almost a month since Google made a set of changes to its ranking algorithm which became known as Vince Update. And although there’s been an official statement from Google that it’s not an update but rather some slight changes the name remained in use.

So what exactly is this update about and how you should alter your optimization activities to adapt to the new way Google ranks websites? When the update was first announced SEOs started testing things to figure out what changes were made to the algo and how it affected the influence of individual ranking factors on a site’s position in the SERPs.

There were a couple of theories that stir the SEO community: the traffic-stats and the brand theory. The first one assumes that the traffic volume for a given keyword on in other words how often a certain phrase is searched for has an impact on the search rankings. For example if some company name gets a rise in the search stats the company gets to rank better for other terms as well. The brand theory boils down to Google giving preference to big companies and popular brands over other website and push them up in the rankings.

Should you start optimizing your site in a new fashion?

Now don’t be scared, that doesn’t mean that you should either develop your business into a giant corporation or forget about ranking anywhere on Google altogether. We’ll now a closer look at why big brands started to rank much better right after the Vince update. But first let’s hear what Google had to say about the update.

The official statement was that what is known as the Vince (or sometimes called ‘brand’) update is not really an update but rather some slight changes to the algo that only influence a small fraction of queries. First of all this change obviously influences the queries containing brand names in them. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with a company ranking first for its own brand name. Moreover I do believe that the company’s website holds more relevance for the user searching for its brand then a Wikipedia ‘about’ article. But generic keywords are a different cup of tea, so why do big brands get to rank better for these as well?

Let’s once again go back to the basics. What are the major factors that determine the search engine rankings of a website: Reputation, relevance, authority, link popularity, PageRank and trust to name a few.