The Main Takeaways from the BIG Google Search Document ‘LEAK’

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By SCS Marketing & PR

The much publicised ‘leak’ which revealed the inner workings of Google’s ranking algorithm has been fascinating SEO practitioners this week.

The documents, shared with Rand Fiskin, former owner of Moz and co-founder of SparkToro earlier this month by a source who claims to have access to ‘thousands of internal Google files.

These files, since verified by Fiskin with two former Google employees, provide an unprecedented look into Google Search and the most important elements the search engine uses to rank content in the SERPs.

Interestingly, much of what has been overcovered from the files merely confirms lots of features SEOs already knew or highly expected influenced search such as backlinks, clicks, fresh content, page titles and age of domain, however, there are important elements that need to be taken into account too.

Here are the main takeaways from the Google Search leak which is reportedly as accurate as of March, 2024 so far:

* Backlinks DO matter. PageRank – an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in the SERPs to measure the importance of website pages – is still being actively used by Google in its ranking features. Google Search analyst Gary Ilyes said back in September 2023 that people ‘overestimate the importance of links’ and that it had not been in the ‘top three’ most important things to rank for ‘some time’. Then, as early as May 9 of this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Bloomberg that links will ‘always be an important of search’. The leaked documents do not tell us how important backlinks are – what weight they are given – but it is clear, either way, that links should remain an ‘important’ part of any SEO campaign strategy.

* Clicks DO matter. SEOs must continue to create great content and user experiences as Google uses a variety of ‘click’ measurements such as badClicks, goodClicks, lastLongestClicks and unsquashedClicks. These tools determines the popularity of the content – it is not revealed how much this is weighted – to determine websites’ ranking in the SERPs. However short content gets a score from 0-512 and longer documents may get truncated and get given a score based on originality.

* Google DOES score websites. Google’s John Mueller said in 2016 that Google ‘does not have a website authority score’, however, the ‘leaked’ documents reveal that Google does use something called ‘siteAuthority’- widely understood to be a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank in the SERPs. Most experienced SEOs will know this as ‘Domain Authority’ which was developed by Moz – a SEO software company developed by Fiskin.

* Google USES Chrome. There is a module called ChromeInTotal which indicates that Google uses data from its Chrome browser for ranking, rather than all or other browsers.

* Fresh content DOES matter. SEOs must continue to create new content as Google looks at byline dates, when the URL was created, and the on-page content.

* Title Tag STILL matters. Google has a feature called titlematchScore which is believed to measure how well a Title Tag matches a query so it is still absolutely vital to ensure this is optimised correctly.

* Domain age DOES matter. Google has a feature called RegistrationInfo which stores domain registration information. SEOs have long known age of domain influences results in the SERPs – this confirms it.

* Google KEEPS everything. Google keeps a copy of every version of every page it has ever indexed meaning the search engine can ‘remember’ every change made to a page.

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