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  • Writer's pictureConor Woodhall

What marketers can learn from the Google search algorithm leak

Following a huge amount of buzz online, Google confirmed last week that a set of 2,500 leaked internal documents containing data related to its systems for ranking webpages was authentic.


Unsurprisingly, Google Spokesman Davis Thompson raised caution against people relying too heavily on the documents:

“We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information.”

But, inevitably, the new documents are raising eyebrows as experts from across the SEO sphere start to analyse and decipher the data. We take a closer look at what this all means and how businesses can use the information to support their SEO efforts.

While the leaks don’t address what types of factors Google systems weigh, it does draw some questions regarding what Google has previously said it doesn’t factor in when looking at page rankings in Google Search.

So, what are the main items we can interpret from the API documents leaked?

Domain Authority for your site

Google has long supported it doesn’t “have anything like website authority score.” However, the first of the highlighted documents called “siteAuthority” suggests it does have a score which is used in a quality ranking system. This promotes a strong reminder that quality content matters and taking time to access all elements of your site’s SEO performance is important.

Click signals registered across your site

Click signals have long helped assess the success of content across a site. But despite a spokesman from Google again suggesting clicks are not a ranking factor, a click system does seem to exist through a system called Navboost; indicating click metrics are tracked for indexing pages. This might suggest that popular sites rank higher based on clicks. Michael King, SEO Expert at iPullRank, said: “there can be little doubt that Google uses clicks and post-click behaviour as part of its ranking algorithms.” With the measurement of clicks revealed it’s important to develop content that attracts high quality “goodClicks” across your site.  

 “Indexing Tier” System associated with webpages

Another document highlighted the concept of an “Indexing Tier,” essentially showing a connection between content and how webpages were ranking within this tier. The system suggested the higher your page appeared in the indexing tier the more valuable the content link is to your site. Pages which are “fresh” were considered higher ranking within this system. This again underpins the power and importance of digital PR, and why regularly securing quality backlinks from high ranking pages and developing fresh content yields a stronger ranking performance for your own site.

Algorithmic demotions tracked

Also highlighted were algorithmic demotions, suggesting that Google does track certain criteria and imposes sanctions or restrictions on your site's ranking in search results. These include:

  • Anchor mismatch – this is when the text in your link doesn't match the site you're linking to.

  • SERP signals indicating user dissatisfaction – for example a ranking penalty for a site if users quickly bounce from a page.

The recognition of ranking demotions highlights the importance of the value and accuracy of your webpages to ensure you’re not encouraging algorithmic demotions.

What does all this information mean for your SEO?

The leaks perhaps don’t reveal much more than what SEO experts had already believed to be true. But, while we've only touched on a few key points from the leak, the documents do offer a unique look into Google's ranking algorithm, highlighting the various aspects of SEO that support Google’s ranking system. The key takeaway is the reinforcement of why it’s important to maintain positive practices across your site and that investing time in SEO truly yields results.

Finding opportunities to overtake your competitors starts with an SEO analysis which compares your communications against theirs. Request your free comparison by clicking here


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