A couple of weeks or so ago there were definitely some changes made to the Google algorithm, Patrick called it a brand update, but I am not so sure that it is just brand sites that have been affected.
The 1st strange thing that I saw was around 3 weeks ago our post that we did about Google maps was ranking ahead of the Google Maps API blog for the phrase Google maps in about 12th position. I stayed there for 2-3 days and then fell down a bunch of pages.
The 2nd strange thing I saw was Search Engine Land ranking on the 1st page of Google.com for the highly competitive term search engine optimization with this post about Google’s search engine optimization presentation. Compared to the other results for that phrase the post had a very small amount of links.
Finally, to top it off the 3rd strange thing that I saw was Shaun Usher‘s blog deputy dog ranking on the 1st page of Google.com in the states and Google UK for the phrase porn with this post called ceiling porn. The phrase porn is just unbelievably competitive, many of the pages ranking for that phrase have hundreds of thousands of links pointing at them. In days gone by it would have been impossible to achieve a rank like this with a post that only has less then 1,000 links.
You can see a screenshot of Shaun’s rank on Google.com here. On Friday and Saturday his blog got an extra 2K+ visitors from Google on that phrase alone. The rank fell sometime on Sunday.
So IMO it isn’t just brands that are benefiting from this new algo, SEL might be a brand, but I wouldn’t say deputy dog is and I wouldn’t say this site is. I am not sure how many links the SEL post got but the post on this blog and the one on deputy dog both got a lot of solid blog links in a short space of time so perhaps the algo is just rewarding content that gets a lot of good links fast. In other words maybe anyone can achieve these amazing ranks on Google, it could just be that you need to knock something up that attracts a lot of links, it might be Google’s answer to Yahoo’s Buzz.