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1 Jun, 2024
1 min time to read

A recent leak of 2,500 internal Google documents has raised questions about the company's past statements on how it ranks content in its search engine.

While the leak did not reveal the actual search algorithm, it provides an unprecedented glimpse into Google's closely guarded operations.

The documents suggest that Google representatives may have misled the public about the factors influencing search rankings. Notably, they reveal that user clicks do play a role in ranking content, contradicting Google's previous denials. The documents mention various types of clicks and a ranking factor called Navboost, which uses searchers' clicks to elevate content.

SEO experts Rand Fishkin and Mike King, who analyzed and published some of the documents, highlight that the leak challenges Google's public statements about its data collection and search processes. Meanwhile, Google confirmed the authenticity of the documents, but cautioned against drawing conclusions based on incomplete or outdated information.

The documents also suggest that Google might use Chrome data in its search rankings, despite company claims to the contrary. For example, one document lists "chrome_trans_clicks" as influencing which links appear below main webpages in search results.

There are over 14,000 attributes mentioned in the documents, including "Twiddlers" (ranking tweaks) and measurements of website authority. This information is expected to lead to a wave of experimentation among website operators and SEO professionals as they attempt to decipher and leverage these insights.

Journalists and publishers of information about SEO and Google Search need to stop uncritically repeating Google’s public statements, and take a much harsher, more adversarial view of the search giant’s representatives,

Fishkin urges.

When publications repeat Google’s claims as though they are fact, they’re helping Google spin a story that’s only useful to the company and not to practitioners, users, or the public.