What Insights Can Marketers Learn from the Google SEO Leak?

For years, marketers have tried to tap into Google’s mystical mind to understand how its search algorithm works. The algorithm felt like the lost treasure everyone was searching for, but few truly understood it.

Until now.

Researchers have uncovered documents from Google outlining some of those obscure algorithms and systems, revealing interesting findings about how SEO works.

While the document is far from a comprehensive guide on SEO, it can help marketers understand how the system works and the basics of that method.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Google leak may affect SEO.

In May 2024, a 25,000-page internal document was leaked from Google. The details of how this document leaked are still vague, but it appeared on GitHub, where Erfan Azimi, an SEO consultant, found it. From there, he shared it with Rand Fishkin, an SEO expert.

Once the documents were out, they spread like wildfire.

What exactly were in those documents?

It was a record of Google Search’s application programming interface (API). In other words, it’s a list of code for processes Google’s algorithm can perform when ranking websites in its search engine results pages.

Here is where the Google SEO leak gets even murkier.  The code is not a list of rules for ranking in the Google search engine. Instead, it’s what the algorithm can do, not how it performs the processes.

Think of it like training for a sport. During training, you learn dozens of drills and maneuvers. However, when you are on the field in the game, you may pull from your training, but how those maneuvers look may be slightly different.

The same is true for Google. While the pages list what Google is capable of, how that looks in action may differ. As a result, we SEO marketers can review the findings but must focus on the bigger picture rather than get caught up in a list of dos and don’ts.

The foundation of search engine optimization is understanding that digital content receives a rank in search engine results pages. Dozens of factors, such as authority, relevancy, and traffic, can determine ranking, many of which are still debated.

When a person types in a search query, Google pulls a set of results for that user. Those results come back based on the rank Google assigned.

Google often states the results are based on what is most relevant and trustworthy. However, those terms are vague and don’t offer accurate insights into what goes into Google’s ranking system, such as what an authority website is.

However, Google’s leaked documents provide some small insights into how Google ranks websites and displays them in searches.

Google’s SEO ranking has never been black and white. There are several layers and components to the process. Look at just a few of the top processes in ranking search results.

Page Crawls

Google sends out crawlers that regularly check websites and pages. These crawlers can tell how often pages are updated, what links you have within your content, and what content is on the page. It’s how Google keeps tabs on all the online content.


Google also performs a process called indexing, which organizes content. Many SEO experts still find this process a slight mystery.


Processes like Ascorer rank content in search results pages based on algorithms. They usually prioritize quality content while pushing down filler and spam content.


Google uses “twiddlers,” which are processes that can rearrange and re-rank Google search results. While twiddlers act mysteriously, we can see the results of their actions, such as specific sites already receiving priority, like YouTube. In contrast, other sites seem stuck and need more power to move forward despite fulfilling the SEO checklist.


Google Panda and Google Penguin are two names that will invariably appear in any SEO discussion. They’re Google’s spam filters that keep out poor-quality results from top pages.

Now that you understand the essential components of Google search, we will dive into what the leak has shown us about these different Google ranking factors.

Demotions in Ranking

The algorithm provided insights into what might cause a site to be demoted:

  • Exact match domains: Having a keyword in a domain may cause the algorithm to see that site as spam (think back to keyword stuffing and how people put keywords where they don’t fit). Google prizes originality over trying to hit keywords.
  • Product reviews: Google doesn’t rank sites focusing primarily on product reviews as high as other sites.
  • Poor site experiences: Navigational issues and poor customer experiences can lead to Google demoting a site.

Building Site Authority

If you use a keyword research tool, you’re familiar with domain authority. It’s a score platforms like Moz, Semrush, and Ahrefs attribute to domains based on several factors. Marketers always associate these scores with the software rather than with Google itself.

We are now learning more about Google’s “SiteAuthority” code. While we can’t tap into their score (if it’s even a number score), we know that Google attributes authority to sites based on their content, relevancy, and standing in the industry.

Click’s Impact on Ranking

Any time you’re online, you’re leaving data footprints. When you search in Chrome, Chrome records every click and movement.

Google previously denied clicks impacted ranking, yet the leaked documents tell a different story.

This leak reveals that all clicks impact your ranking, including your click-through rate from Google search results pages. When you generate more clicks, Google is more likely to see your page as relevant and may rank that content higher.

Branded Search Matters

When you look at your domain’s keyword data, you usually look at what keywords and topics bring in traffic. Next time you check your data, look at your branded search. These are search terms directly related to your brand that users use to navigate your site.

For example, someone who wants to visit Facebook.com might search for “Facebook.”

The recent leak revealed that branded search is vital to your ranking as it shows your authority. If a site receives considerable traffic from other keywords but no one is searching for it, it sends red flags to Google.

However, if people frequently search for your brand name to find you, you show Google that you are well known and your information is sought after.

How Google Stores Content

Google has three tiers for storing content after crawling and indexing it:

  • Critical content: Content with regular updates and steady traffic goes into Google’s flash memory.
  • Medium importance: Content Google deems less necessary goes into a solid-state drive.
  • Poor content: Content with few updates and no new information goes into a hard drive.

Publishing regular content is essential to staying in a higher-tier storage location for easier ranking.

Google Distinguishes Site Types

Google groups sites together based on the type of content they have. For instance, Google views news sites differently from video and personal blogs. It can also identify “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) sites from other content. Because Google distinguishes between types of content, you may see ranking changes if your content falls into a category it doesn’t prioritize.

Backlinking Remains Important

The leak revealed that backlinks are still important in SEO. Links are most powerful when they lead to a high-authority site or a site with regular updates, such as a PR site.

The leak exposed that links don’t just matter for the page you’re linking to. Google looks at the website’s homepage for a more accurate reading of how trustworthy a site you link to is.

Using digital PR remains a strong strategy for generating quality links back to a web page to positively impact search ranking.

Topic Authority Matters

Learning that your authority on a topic matters is not startling insight for most SEO experts, and many others have already started using this strategy.

Topic authority comes from regularly discussing a topic and related topics on a site. By repeatedly covering the same subject from different angles, Google will begin associating the site with the topic and eventually consider you an authority.

Content-Length Impacts Ranking

Google views short-form content and long-form content differently. Some topics require long 3,000-word posts, while others can conveniently fit in a 300-word post. Google considers these differences when ranking and may not penalize the content similarly.

Link Format Is Flexible

Links are a touchy topic as a link can quickly go from authority to spammy if you don’t insert it correctly. Links on keywords have always been seen as potentially spammy. However, it looks like Google might be loosening up on that rule, especially for authority sites, allowing you more freedom in choosing anchor text.

Google Is Cracking Down on Local SEO

Local SEO is a strategy that focuses your ranking on a specific area, usually your service area.

Google has begun cracking down on the locations to which you can market. It looks at your site and may penalize it if you’re trying to rank locally somewhere your business isn’t connected.

Updated Content Ranks the Best

Google prizes regularly updated content. It rewards sites that create new content regularly as it prefers recent news, data, and ideas.

Because of this push, it’s more likely to promote your site if you regularly rewrite old content to keep it fresh and new.

Google has been slowly releasing an AI-led search experience. It was formerly known as search generative experiences but is now called Google AI Overviews.

Google AI Overviews pulls from top content and puts an AI-generated summary near the top. For those who want in-depth answers, the traditional search engine results page follows the quick AI summary.

The leak did not reveal much about this new tool and its potential impact on SEO. It’s still a work in progress, and there have already been slight changes in function since testing began.

What we do know about Google’s AI is if you use good SEO, you have a higher chance of showing up near the top or as a recommendation from Google AI Overviews.

What does Google’s SEO leak mean for SEO strategists and writers?

Tip 1: Focus Most of Your Time on Quality SEO Content

Search engine algorithms change and are unpredictable. However, if you build an authority site, it will stand the test of time.

When crafting quality content, begin with the reader. What do they want to read, and what is their search intent? Creating content around a visitor’s intent makes you more likely to be seen as a relevant result in Google.

Tip 2: Set Up a Frequent Posting Schedule

Those who want to succeed in SEO must also publish regularly. Weekly or daily content can improve your ranking and authority, as Google will view you as more relevant.

Tip 3: Collect More Backlinks Through Digital PR

Create more buzz around your brand with off-site activity, leading to more clicks.

Starting a digital PR strategy can significantly impact generating more clicks and building a strong backlink strategy. PR sites post frequently, so Google already sees them as high authority. Receiving a backlink from the PR site will help you benefit from that site’s authority.

Tip 4: Optimize Your Content for More Clicks

Click-through rates have a larger impact on your ranking than marketers originally thought. Just how much, we don’t know. However, the leak did reveal that it considers those clicks in ranking.

To increase your click-through rate, you need to pay more attention to your SEO optimization. Optimizing your meta description, meta title, and headlines can drastically improve your click-through rate. Your meta title and description appear in Google search results and will generate curiosity about the content, so make them engaging and enticing. Pay closer attention to the internal and external link structure within the articles and pages of your website.

Lastly, get more active on social media.

Tip 5: Invest in Your User Experience

Content is more than words on a page. It’s the entire browsing experience. Sites with a positive user experience, such as fast page load speeds and user-friendly website designs, are likelier to find a top space in Google search results.

Hiring a website optimization team allows you to optimize your user experience to provide the best possible experience, increasing your search engine ranking.

Tip 6: Keep an Eye on Google AI

Google AI is coming, even if it’s not yet in its final form. Your goal in preparation for Google AI is to create content AI will want to cite.

You can also aim for a recommendation from AI for your products or services. You can still generate traffic through these highlights and recommendations, even if users never search beyond the AI summary.

tips on seo strategy google leak

If there’s one major lesson to learn from the document leak and Google’s new guidelines, it’s that we can’t rely on Google. In the past, it has revealed pieces of its algorithm that have turned out not to be true while hiding other rather essential parts.

Rather than stressing what Google says or doesn’t say, focus on what you produce and aim to create trustworthy content and the best user experience for your visitors. That’s what will truly bring in results, even amidst a changing algorithm.

Our highly trained SEO team is here to help you get started with designing and optimizing your brand for search engines. We can help you boost the quality of your content while ensuring it meets the latest SEO guidelines. We use strategies such as PR link building to pack your site full of authority links that Google loves and ranks well.

Connect with us to learn more about how our services can build your brand awareness.


Justin Staples

For 15 years, Justin has guided businesses on a transformative journey through strategic marketing and design to craft their unique online identity.