Our Key Takeaways on Google’s API Leak

googleHave you heard that internal documentation for Google Search’s Content Warehouse API was leaked online? The rumors are true: there was a code repository mistake and an anonymous source shared the findings with Rand Fishkin, of Sparktoro, who was also the former CEO of Moz. As Rand worked through the document, he collaborated with Mike King of iPullRank before releasing the findings.

Our team did some research on the leaked document and wanted to share what we saw. So, without further ado, here is what we learned about Google’s possible unknown ranking factors from their recent leak.

Our Key Takeaways from the Leak

Though most of the leak defines possible ranking factors, it’s important to keep in mind that none of these claims have been truly confirmed, so take each point as a recommendation to accommodate your business’s current SEO strategy.

We also want to preface that there are over 14k attributes discussed and for obvious reasons, we will not be covering each and every one. However, we did want to cover the important details and share what we discovered.

Let’s use this time to take a look at what Google has unveiled and how it may be impacting your site (and others):

  • There is something called a siteAuthority score that Google might be using to grade your website.
  • They mention twiddlers, which act as re-ranking factors that are used to re-rank websites between major updates.
  • YMYL (Your Money Your Life) content may have its own ranking score and the content written on the site should acknowledge this. Google has specific guidelines for news, personal blogs, ecommerce, and video sites as well.
  • Link diversity and relevance are mentioned, meaning that PageRank is still likely a critical ranking feature. More specifically, Google is tagging links that come from high-quality news sites, and links coming from site seeds are probably the most valuable links you can acquire.
  • Findings showed that Google is likely storing at least the last 20 versions of your web pages.
  • It’s not just the anchor text of links that is being used to understand the page you’re linking to, but also the text surrounding the link.
  • There is a potential ranking factor for discussion and user-generated content (UGC), so prompting user discussions and moderating thoughtfully is encouraged.
  • Updating your web pages significantly with rich, valuable content has the potential to impact how often a page is crawled and (hopefully) indexed.
  • Blog duplication may be measured on your site, so taking the opportunity to consolidate posts that are very similar to each other can help your ranking.
  • Mentions may be more important and meaningful than we initially thought, so they might be worth reporting in the future.
  • Google tracks font size and weight for links, as well as the dates in the byline and on-page content.
  • Just as many SEO experts have suspected, keyword stuffing within content is a score that Google likely tracks.
  • Google can determine the amount of effort employed when creating content, especially since AI and other LLMs are being utilized to expedite the content creation process.
  • There are many reasons that Google might demote your site, such as exact match domains, location, product reviews, poor navigation, and beyond.
  • All clicks are likely being tracked and measured by Google, including good clicks, bad clicks, last longest clicks, and side-wide impressions.
  • Page embeddings, site embeddings, site focus, and site radius are all possible factors in Google’s scoring.
  • Though we know that Google will remove your paid listing from the first position if it isn’t receiving any clicks, we now know that this rule also applies to the first organic listing result to some degree.
  • Google can value the intent of your content, whether it’s for commercial or informational use. That’s why we recommend considering the audience and intent of the content and shooting to create pages that have an 80/20 split that reflects that.

Things That Surprised Us

Life is full of surprises, and so are some of the things mentioned in this leak. As SEOs, here are three concepts we were surprised to learn that might be impacting websites:

  1. Page/post titles, meta descriptions, and URLs can be as long as you want them to be. However, if a user can’t read the full-page title, they might not click through to it. Another thing to note is that having an exact keyword matching in your page title or title tag could help your ranking and get more clicks if it matches user intent.
  2. Content and links come second to intention and searcher navigation. If searchers are consistently navigating to the same result that isn’t on the first page of Google, Google might realize that it is the result searchers want to see for their query and move it up. This ties into the idea of NavBoost since it demonstrates the power of user intent as a ranking factor.
  3. E-E-A-T might not be as important as we originally thought. In fact, the author-related attributes are the only connection to E-E-A-T. So, it is probably important to have author pages that show credible information about the voice behind your content as often, readers benefit from experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, so if you have been practicing this style of writing, we recommend maintaining it for your readers’ convenience.
  4. There is a possibility that Google may limit the number of content types per SERP. For example, this can include putting a cap on the number of blogs that can appear in SERPs. With this being the case, our team recommends diversifying your content strategy to ensure the ultimate information gain and exposure online. Additionally, ensure that a human writes all of your content, as Google continues to value unique content that accentuates your brand’s voice. Though it may take more time, it is worth it in the long run!
  5. Branding as a whole can play a significant role in your Google rankings and results. This can include how your company is presenting itself on exterior channels, such as YouTube, podcasting, and social media. Since Google is recognizing that, surprisingly, Google isn’t the only channel that drives traffic, it’s highly recommended to market yourself where your audience is most likely to pay attention. That way, you’ll business will receive signals from external sources, your content will further be diversified, and Google will ultimately reward you for it.

So What Should You Do Now?

Unfortunately, the leakage of this data does not ensure a quick fix for ranking your site, especially as we are still not certain how legitimate the information is. Hopefully, the majority of the findings further back up strategies you are already implementing. Our age-old advice stands:

  • SEO has always been about creating good content, so make content that continues to help earn clicks and impressions. If you expand on topics appropriately and have a good user experience, there is a good chance Google will reward you (although we can’t guarantee anything).
  • If you have pages that are performing badly, consider consolidating your site or doing a revamp of content. If the metrics are poor and there are no links pointing to the page, you may want to determine if it is worth it to redirect it elsewhere.
  • Update your content regularly, as irregularly updated content is not a priority for Google and will not rank for freshness or timeliness. Therefore, it is important to add fresh images and unique information whenever you can.
  • Continue to focus your link building efforts on websites that are relevant to you such as blogs in your niche, directories, and more.

And be sure to keep doing the following to maintain our rankings (if you aren’t doing these things yet, this is your sign to start!):

  • Producing quality content – This is an incredibly important ranking factor, as Google wants to show users informative and relevant content. This can include content that’s on your website, as well as the content you post on external sources, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more.
  • Acquiring backlinksGet links from other websites to your website. Quality backlinks show that your site is authoritative and a great resource.
  • Optimizing for technical SEO – Ranking doesn’t stop at just what is on your website – it goes into what’s behind it as well. Make sure your website is optimized for website speed, mobile friendliness, and crawlability. This will ensure that search engines can easily index your site and understand the content that it shows.
  • Using keyword optimization – Use relevant keywords throughout your website. Try to give each page a separate keyword focus. You can even use a tool like SERanking to track where these keywords rank in different search engines.
  • Focusing on user experience – The user experience is a measure of how easy and enjoyable it is for people to use your website. Google ranks websites that are helpful for users, so focus on optimizing your site to generate “successful sessions.”
  • Establishing social signals – A website that is sharable and encourages social interaction is important. Social signals are defined by the likes, shares, and other social interactions that your website receives.
  • Maintaining brand signals – While social signals are important, brand signals also help you to rank. Make sure your brand is well-known and respected.

For More Information

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Julia Grosel

About the Author

Julia Grosel

Julia Grosel is an SEO analyst at Sixth City Marketing. Her role focuses on optimizing digital content for clients in dentistry and higher education.

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