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The SEO secrets we learnt from Google’s leak

A huge data leak is news in many circles. It is especially noteworthy when Google is the one whose data has been leaked. The latest leak focussed on how the company’s search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking features were calculated.

Here we’re summarising the biggest takeaways from the leak that may influence your future SEO strategy.

The leaked data included thousands of documents that details the data collected and processed by Google when crawling websites. Much of the content of this leaked documentation seems to contradict a number of statements that Google representatives have made over the years such as how insights into ranking algorithms, system functions and even how content is evaluated.

What’s been revealed?

Domain Authority

In recent years, most notably after the Yandex code leak in 2023, Google has made several claims that it doesn’t use domain authority as a ranking metric, however, the leaked documentation reveals that Google does give some weight to your site’s authority, with a metric called “siteAuthority”. Now each SEO software provider gives Domain Authority or Site Authority as a single standalone figure, and whilst Google might not calculate it in the same way, these guideline figures start to make more sense.

Clicks are counted

Similarly, Google representatives have said that the number of clicks through to a website doesn’t have any effect on rankings. What the leaks show is that there appears to be a whole system called “NavBoost” that uses a combination of click and dwell data to change search results.


Google has long denied using a ‘sandbox’ or a system that limits new sites from ranking highly on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The documentation has revealed that Google does routinely place new sites in a ‘sandbox’ for a period of time. The documents state that “an attribute called hostAge is used specifically “to sandbox fresh spam in serving time.”

Chrome Data

When asked back in January 2024, Google’s John Mueller confirmed that he doesn’t think that Google Chrome data is used for ranking. Now, whilst John has been a fountain of knowledge about the inner workings of the search algorithms, either updates have been made or they were overlooked because, according to the leaked docs, Google Chrome user data is being used for search-related purposes.

While these internal documents have revealed several new findings about SEO and cleared up some contradictions from Google, many documents have confirmed some long-established SEO techniques. These include:

• The number and diversity of backlinks (links on other websites pointing to your website) continue to be as important as ever
• Including target keywords in title tags is a necessity
• Having expert and authoritative authors for your content helps satisfy Google’s Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) guidelines.

What does this mean for SEO?

Perhaps the biggest lesson that should be learnt from this leak is to take any claims made by Google with a pinch of salt. Although it makes sense that Google wouldn’t want to divulge every aspect of its secretive ranking algorithm, these revelations contradict several claims its representatives have made previously.

The leaked documents have also validated many long-held SEO beliefs, which means that anyone interested in getting better organic performance for their site as well as seasoned SEOs, should continue to experiment and see what works rather than blindly following Google’s advice.

At EPR Marketing we work with you to understand what your business needs to turn your organic website visitors into paying customers, so if you’re looking for help to boost your rankings on Google, get in touch today.

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