Are SEO Myths Finally Busted by Google Leak?

The Gist

  • SEO insight shift. The Google leak redefines understanding of ranking influences, emphasizing clickstream and siteAuthority.
  • Content verification. Marketers advised to enhance trust by providing consistent, high-quality content.
  • Revamped SEO strategies. Insights from the leak can significantly alter existing digital marketing practices.

In a dramatic turn of events in late last month, a massive leak has purportedly unveiled thousands of pages of internal Google documents, shedding light on the elusive mechanics behind its search ranking algorithm.

For years, how Google determines the ranking of websites has been a closely guarded secret, speculated upon by SEO experts, journalists and researchers. These documents suggest that Google’s public statements about its ranking system may not be entirely accurate, raising significant questions about the transparency and honesty of the tech giant.

This article examines the implications of these revelations, examining how they might impact SEO, marketing and the future of online search.

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Screenshot of the Google Search page.Google Screenshot

What’s in the Google SEO Leaked Document?

The leaked information, which Google has now confirmed, goes into the specifics of Google’s data collection practices, the influence of Chrome data on search results, and the role of author data, potentially reshaping our understanding of SEO and digital marketing. Specifically, the leak revealed the documentation for making API calls to Google’s Cloud Content Warehouse, which can be seen on Hexdoc in its entirety. 

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Screenshot from HexdocsScreenshot from https://hexdocs.pm/

That said, the leak was not directly about SEO techniques, nor was it about marketing — but the details that are mentioned in the document can help us gain a deeper understanding of those practices in relation to the Google search engine and how it determines page rank. The documents were originally given to Rand Fishkin of SparkToro, a software company, and Fishkin later publicized them on the company’s website and Tweeted about his findings, as shown below.

Damian Rollison, director of market insights at SOCi, a marketing platform provider, told CMSWire that like the notorious military security leaks of years past, this is a huge trove of information that search experts will pore over for some time to come.

“So far, however, the leaked documentation appears to confirm the importance of tactics the SEO community has tested and recommended for years,” said Rollison. “Some of these factors, such as the importance of clickstream data, have been subject to denials from the company, which Google will claim was an effort to protect its algorithm from those who would try to reverse engineer it.” 

Rollison said that the quality of Google search results is currently under fire due to the perception that low-quality content, much of it AI-generated, is winning out over sources that should be more trusted, and now AI has taken an even more prominent position with the launch of AI Overviews.

“Many would argue that the leaked documentation could represent a Rosetta Stone that will help unlock how Google became a threatened incumbent,” said Rollison, who suggested that marketers would do well to keep up with these events as best they can, even though technical documentation indirectly related to search does not necessarily lead to obvious action items.

“The best way forward remains building a strong brand online and offline,” said Rollison.

Related Article: What’s New in Search? Top SEO Strategies for 2024

Google SEO Leak Reveals Hidden Ranking Factors

The leaked data shows various factors that Google Search might consider when ranking websites, but it doesn’t explain how much each factor influences the final ranking. This could be valuable for marketing and SEO professionals aiming to improve their website rankings on Google.