Biggest Google Leak: Top Takeaways for Business Owners and Marketers

If you are in the SEO world, you already know about the big Google leak that happened recently. If you are a business owner, brand marketer, who is not aware of SEO in detail, and worried about the recent leak and what you should make of it, this should help you understand what you need to do for your website.

So, this is what happened:

Google accidently published almost 2500 documents containing its ranking secrets. This leak of internal documentation from Google Search’s Content Warehouse API is so far the biggest leak that has happened, making it one of the hotly-discussed topics.

These seemingly legit documents (as confirmed by ex-Googlers) reveals there are several things that Google has lied about, which SEOs have confirmed for long. This contains a treasure trove of previously unconfirmed information for SEOs and gives a glimpse of some of the inner workings of the company.

So what are the main things that have come out of this Google leak, and what should you do as a business owner or marketer? Let us quickly deep-dive.

Please take note: This documentation may be very recent, but there is no confirmation that these are the latest documents since there is no mention of AI Overviews.

However, we would also like to warn readers that do not take it as the ultimate guide to ranking. These are good to know, but we cannot hold these conclusive proof as to how Google delivers a ranking. Basically, it’s not a complete blueprint of its algorithm, since some of the factors might be experimental or even out of date.

If you want to understand what you should take away from this documentation, make sure to read till the end.

 

Top things that impact search rankings

1. Brand and demand generation becomes more important than ever. Think outside Google search –

Absolutely what we have been saying so far – Having a brand will get you more preference from Google. And in order to do that, focus more outside Google, than only on Google search. Focus on building your brand through thought-leadership content on various channels, (podcast, social media, communities), PR and community-building. The most important thing to note here is, as Rand Fishkin, (yes the guy who built Moz and to whom the Google docs were shared by an anonymous source) says “build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.”

This means, allow people to find your brand elsewhere than Google too. Invest in creating content beyond just your own website. Create demand for your brand and your services wherever your audience is. You do not know how they will find you – could be a newsletter, could be a blog, could be a Linkedin Post, could be an infographic/slideshare, could be a podcast or on communities like Reddit, Quora etc. Spread your base and you will be fine.

 

2. Links do matter, but the quality of links matter more –

It’s what we have always believed that the quality of your backlink matters. While creating backlinks, start focussing more on contextually relevant links, links from trusted websites, links from pages that are frequently updated.

#Takeaway – Focus more on your backlinking strategy if you have not been doing that. Links are a way to show Google that other sites value your content. Think of popularity. Google judges popularity by the kind of sites linking to you. Do not just pay those link farms for low quality quantity links. Also, let us focus on creating good content that will get more links than bad ones.

 

3. Clicks do matter, and engagement also matter –

Even though Google has denied this a lot of times, there is enough to prove that Google does use click data and post-click behaviour as part of its ranking mechanism. “Bad clicks, Good clicks, Long clicks, last longest clicks”, all are tracked.

Google apparently does use systems (called NavBoost and Glue) that employ click-driven measures to rank sites. So how many people are clicking onto your website is getting measured. But along with that, how long are people staying on your site is also getting measured. Both are ranking factors.

#Takeaway – So make sure you are creating content that increases engagement with your audience. Optimise for metrics like dwell time, pages per session and repeat users. Hold your audience on your page and you will rank.

Create sticky content that your target audience will be interested in reading. Do not just focus on stuffing your content with a bunch of keywords and think your website will rank and stay there. Your page needs finally successful clicks, where the dwell time is higher, indicating to Google that your content is good.

4. Google does use a site-wide Authority metric that works similar to DA or a DR –

Google does use metrics like site authority and site reputation, to score the overall value of the site and domain. According to the docs, Google uses both site authority and home page authority to assign link score to each page. You can increase page authority by uplifting authority of the whole site.

#Takeaway – Build authority for the whole site by publishing more content that can be linkable. Make sure you prune away bad or irrelevant pieces of content on your site, and redirect them to good and quality pieces of content that will maintain user engagement. Maintain good quality content across your website. Focus on good UX and also good navigation. Bad Navigation is likely going to pull down the rank of your website.

5. Topical Authority exists

This is something we have been talking about for a long time – establish topical authority and you will see your website break through the top rankings. The Google docs leak confirms that they have a siteFocusScore attribute that helps the search giant understand how focussed a site is on a particular topic.

#Takeaway – Make sure to build authority on your website.

Have you answered all the queries that a searcher might ask on a particular subject? Does your content satisfy user intent? If yes, your website can create topical authority related to a particular topic, subject, niche, product or category. Typically higher topical authority helps you fetch higher rankings.

Read more about it here: How to Build Topical Authority and Why it is so Important for Ranking Your Content?

6. Freshness matters

Fresh content is considered of higher quality by ranking. The last updated date on a page matters in ranking. Also make sure that all dates are updated everywhere dates are mentioned – meaning page titles, XML data, structured data.

#Takeaway – Publish regularly and also refurbish all evergreen pieces of content or Bottom of the Funnel pieces of content regularly with the latest date and year.

Google wants to show users updated pieces of information. You have an edge with dates, so UPDATE your content.

7 .Authorship matters

Google does store information about authors when a particular content is published. This validates an important element of E.E.A.T.

#Our Takeaway – Do not be fixated by E.E.A.T but make sure you are including authorship and relevance in your content.

 

Here what is also interesting

There are a list of other things that came from the leak, which should be noted. Some of these are things that Google has always denied (which makes sense since they do not want to know what is in their algorithm blackbox) but SEOs have always confirmed.

Links which get clicked matter; Chrome data used for ranking

 Despite Google denying this multiple times (even John Mueller had denied it), one of the modules talking about page quality scores shows that Google tracked the visits that a website got from Chrome. This shows that not only does Google use Chrome data for rankings, it also tracks links which get clicked. So successful clicks matter. And since Google uses Chrome data for rankings, it would be a good idea to see how you are placed on Chrome.

 

Sandbox for new sites

Even though Google has always denied that there is a sandbox for new sites (which prevents new sites from getting ranked till they reach a certain domain age), the docs that G does use something called a hostage attribute “used to sandbox fresh spam from serving time”.

It would be a good idea to start building good links to your new site as soon as possible so that you can get out of the sandbox phase.

Demotions

There is also clear evidence to suggest that Google does demote pages for a variety of reasons. Here are a few that is found mentioned –

  • Anchor Mismatch: When the link created on your page is not relevant to the page you are linking to.
  • SERP demotion: This is when Google realises that people clicking on your website are dissatisfied.
  • Nav demotions: This likely applies to pages which have bad user experiences.
  • Exact match domain demotion: This likely means exact match domains will get less value.
  • Spammy product reviews and porn content

Even though this information is not really surprising, it would be good to remember them and avoid them.

 

Our High-level thoughts on this

Basically, this leak does not offer anything that is ground-breaking and we did not know. At Justwords, we always advice our customers to use robust, and sustainable SEO strategies that will work in the long run, since SEO is a long game. If you want to play it short and get quick results, then this leak should worry you. If you have played it right, and are working on building your brand the right way through great content, and good backlinks there is nothing much to worry.

Even if Google has lied about multiple things, it has always told one thing – publish useful content and help users get what they are looking for. Do that and you will always be on the right side of SEO.

Also here is what we want you to think: If Google didn’t exist, how would you build your brand? In today’s world, the more you invest in building a brand outside Google, the more value you get inside Google search – because that is going to be having the biggest impact.

 

Want to understand more about SEO and how to build your brand? Talk to a Justwords SEO marketer.

About The Author

Ved Prakash

Ved has extensive experience in SEO and Digital marketing and has worked with many domestic and international clients to provide services related to content marketing, blogging, SEO and other digital services.

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