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Google’s Search Documentation leak Reveals Ranking Secrets!

SEO is constantly changing, from the rise of AI to prioritizing link quality to ever-changing trends. Hence, SEO practitioners should be aware of the changes to make their efforts effective and successful.

This year, Google’s Search Documentation leak happened, and the SEO industry saw how Google’s search algorithms can help them improve their SEO strategies.

To uncover how you can benefit from the leak, read our blog to learn more about the inner workings of the Google algorithm.

The Leak Event

What Happened

The leaked documents, initially shared by Mike King and Rand Fishkin, have shed light on previously obscure aspects of Google’s search algorithms. The leak, encompassing thousands of internal documents, has provided a rare glimpse into the mechanics behind Google’s search ranking processes.

The leak happened in early 2024, with King and Fishkin publishing their analyses of the documents. These revelations have sparked widespread discussion and analysis among SEO experts, web developers, digital marketers, and link builders.

Key SEO People and Analysis

Rand Fishkin

The founder of SparkToro, Rand Fishkin, has been instrumental in dissecting the leaked documents. As a renowned figure in the SEO industry, he has highlighted key aspects of Google’s ranking criteria and provided actionable insights for SEO practitioners.

Michael King

Michael King, founder of iPullRank, also analyzed the Google documentation leak. King focused on the technical aspect of the leak and helped technical SEO practitioners understand the new update to craft their SEO strategies.

Importance for SEOs

SEO Community’s Reaction

The SEO community was particularly vocal, with experts and practitioners eager to understand the newfound information. Media outlets covered the story extensively, highlighting the potential implications for online businesses and the search engine landscape.

SEO practitioners like content writers, and digital marketers also used this leak to re-strategize their overall SEO plan for the coming months. Their overall reaction was to utilize this leak and make their marketing campaigns worth the effort by using what they learned.

Potential Impact on SEO Strategies

According to SearchLogic, the leak still needs to be confirmed, so don’t base your strategies on the information you get from it. However, some insights might impact your SEO strategies and help you decide your next step.

The leak could still offer insights that can improve SEO practices. To summarize, SEO professionals need to know the quality and relevance of their content, the diversity of their backlinks, and the overall user experience on their websites.

Understanding these changes can help you stay relevant in your field. So, here are the fundamental discoveries you need to learn from the document.

Key Discoveries from the Documents

Before we look into the fundamental discoveries from the documents, here are some details you should know first about the leaked documents.

Current and Comprehensive Data

The leaked documents are current as of March 2024 and encompass 2,596 modules and 14,014 attributes. This comprehensive data set provides an extensive view of Google’s ranking mechanisms.

Weighting and Ranking Features

While specific weighting information was not disclosed, the documents confirm the existence of numerous ranking features. These features have significant implications for how content is ranked in search results.

1) Twiddlers and Demotions

Twiddlers Explained

If you search Twiddlers online, you will see many results about it if they are related to the leaked documents. So, what are Twiddlers?

Twiddlers tweak the search results after the main algorithm has done its job. After the main algorithm, Twiddlers will adjust to boost your website or rank it lower on the SERPs.

Finally, Twiddlers are small adjustments made by Google that are outside the search algorithm’s factors. Specific examples of Twiddlers include the NavBoost, QualityBoost, RealTimeBoost, and WebImageBoost as Google ranking signals.

Demotion Criteria

SEO professionals wouldn’t love to hear this, but the leaked reveals Google can demote some websites. But before you make changes to your SEO strategy, you must first know the various reasons for content demotion.

The Criteria You Need to Know:

  • Anchor Mismatch—If the anchor text does not match the link or web page it is linked to, it is a criterion for demotion. 
  • SERP Demotion—If users aren’t satisfied with your webpage based on search results, it will demote your rank in the SERPs. 
  • Navigation Demotion—This is not new, but it is still helpful to know. Webpages with bad user navigation and user experience will also rank lower. 
  • Product Review Demotion—If you’re a business owner, an identified negative product review can also be a criterion for demotion. 
  • Location Demotion – Web Pages with no location or place information will also experience demotion. 
  • Adult-Content Demotion – Adult content will also rank lower because it’s inappropriate for all audiences.

2) Content and Page Management

Change History

Surprisingly, your changes are also tracked by Google!

Google’s index keeps the last 20 versions of a webpage and still considers the context and relevance of the web page. Hence, this information is essential for link builders because they have to consider link equity.

To solve this, it is recommended that you re-index your pages more than 20 times so that you can start fresh with the newly edited content.

PageRank and Domain Authority

The leaked documents revealed metrics called “siteAuthority” and “authorityPromotion.” These metrics focus on an age’s domain authority.

The SEO community was surprised by the revelation because Google insisted they don’t have a metric for domain authority. They only rank a web page based on an algorithm used by Google called PageRank.

PageRank measures the importance of website pages, and the leak also confirmed a signal called Homepage PageRank. It is said that Google used the new website’s home page to get its own PageRank score.

With this information, building your authority in the digital landscape by link building and creating quality content to rank higher is essential.

3) User Interaction and Content Length

Successful Clicks

With or without the documentation leak, clicks play a significant role in determining your ranking factors. The leaked documents say that Google also measures the user experience and how it interacts with your website.

Google used NavBoost to identify different types of clicks that can affect your ranking factors. Here are they:

  • Good clicks – They identify the positive user interaction with your web page.
  • Bad clicks – On the other hand, these clicks identify negative user interaction.
  • Last Longest Clicks – From the words themselves, these clicks identify how long users stay on your web page.
  • Impressions – Impressions are search results displayed to other users.
  • Squashed Clicks – They are considered less valuable or spammed.
  • Unsquashed Clicks – On the contrary, these are considered more valuable and genuine
  • Unicorn Clicks – Clicks with unique interaction that can signal high-quality interaction.

Google also revealed that they use clicks to measure a web page’s relevance and quality. For this reason, you need to ensure a positive user experience to improve clicks.

Content Length

SEO professionals already know that quality is king in content creation. However, the Google leaked documents reveal revelations about content length and originality.

It has been said that when writing a longer article, you need to put the important information at the top because the system has “leadingtext” and “numTokens”. 

“Leadingtext” is a system that stores a page’s leading text, while “numTokens” can process a single page with a limited number of tokens, so if you exceed the word count, they will not be considered. 

4) Brand and Authorship

Brand Importance

Rand Fishkin emphasizes building a solid brand because brand visibility is also important in ranking in the SERPs outside of SEO.

This may not be a surprise for SEO professionals because brand recognition is an important factor in making a business successful. In the documents, it has been said that to be more successful, you should build a notable, well-known, and credible brand outside Google’s reach.


Adding authors when you publish an article can also improve the E-E-A-T element of the article. The Google leaked documents revealed that Google is using a system called “isAuthor” and “authorName” to determine the expertise element of the article with authorship.

For this reason, add authors whenever you publish an article on your web page to demonstrate your expertise and authority.

Backlinks Still Remain Important

It has been said that backlinks are no longer critical ranking factors. Contrary to what Google leaked documents revealed, backlinks still value your web page’s ranking ability. In fact, the leaked documents have ZERO information about backlinks being less valuable.

Additionally, the leaked documents revealed clicks, which can also identify the link quality. If there are more clicks, Google will consider it high-quality, but fewer clicks mean lower quality.

Backlink Velocity

You should also consider backlink velocity. Backlink velocity means the loss and gain of backlinks in a certain period of time. The leaked documents reveal that Google uses “PhaseAnchorSpamDays” to track the speed and volume of new links.

With this, Google can track if you earn links naturally or manipulate your link-building acquisition.

6) Whitelists

Whitelists and Small Sites

The existence of whitelists for certain domains can significantly boost search rankings. However, small personal sites can also receive boosts or demotions based on various factors by using “smallPersonalSite.”

The Documents Revelation on Whitelisted Websites

The documents revealed that whitelisting means that Google is giving preferential treatment to specific websites that can give it a boost on the SERP pages. For instance, COVID-19 pandemic or democratic elections, Google collected “isElectionAuthority” and “isCovidLocalAuthority” data.

Google used these attributes to identify content related to elections and COVID-19 to rank these contents higher.

7) Freshness and Relevance

Freshness Metrics

Google loves fresh content!

The documents revealed that Google has various metrics to identify the “freshness” of your content by date. Here are they:

  • bylineDate – The date displayed on the page
  • syntacticDate – The date from the URL or the title
  • semanticDate –The date pulled from the content

In addition, Google also considers the various dates in the page titles, content, and sitemaps. For this reason, you need to update your content from time to time if you want to rank higher.

Topic Relevance

In the leaked documents, Google uses vectorized embeddings to determine the core topics of content. Domain registration information is also considered when assessing relevance and trustworthiness.

With or without the leaked documents, keeping your content fresh and updated is still essential. This helps your web pages be relevant and can improve your domain authority, leading to higher rankings and more organic searches.

Moving Forward

The leaked documents may stir up excitement in the SEO industry because of the new information, yet some changes may still be unclear. So, take everything with a grain of salt before implementing your SEO strategy. What’s important now is to continue using high-quality SEO strategies to maintain your organic searchers and other vital metrics.

As a final piece of advice, actively monitor possible changes in the future and only consider statements from reputable sources about SEO guidelines.

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