There has been considerable debate recently as to whether Google has updated its algorithm to give more weight to "brands". Official update or not, some brands have certainly seen improvements in positions and there has been more and more talk about the importance of website "trust". So why trust and what is TrustRank?
TrustRank, is a further development in the aim to separate good web pages from Spam. (Yahoo! may have been the first to develop such techniques, but it would seem that Google is taking this on board). Detecting Spam is often very easy for a human but extremely time consuming. In order to reduce the time spent on this, Google and other Search Engines developed automated ranking methods such as PageRank and HITS. These methods essentially rely on a global link score at the heart of their algorithms which, as you'd expect, Spammers soon caught on to. This resulted in rankings being manipulated by these Spammers, "fraudulently" altering the number of links that point to a Webpage, and subsequently falsely promoting its positon in the SERPs.
In order to combat this, the manual and automated processes have been brought together by Google, in TrustRank. TrustRank relies on the principle that "good" pages rarely link to "bad" pages. By manually identifying a small sub set of reputable (good) pages the TrustRank algorithm is then able to crawl the web and measure the trustworthiness of sites using the notion that trust is reduced the further away you move from the original, manually selected, web sites. It is acknowledged that the benefits of this will be not only those web sites who have followed "white hat" optimisation techniques in the past, but also those sites who Google deems to be "reputable". It can be expected that any such brands who Google manually selects in its sub set will see a significant increase in their SERPs positions!
This adds further weight to the "quality rather than quantity" argument with inbound links and means that an effective SEO PR campaign with coverage on authoritative news sites will have more value than ever before.
To see an example of Matt Cutts talking about Trust earlier this month: