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Explosive Google Search Leak Reveals Mother Lode Of Conflicting SEO Data

May 29, 2024

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Google’s silence on the controversial search algorithm documentation leak, which exposes contradictory core ranking algorithm information, fuels conflicting signals and unanswered questions.

The recent (apparent) leak of Google documents gives an unprecedented insight into how Google Search API ranks content; much of it contradicts what Google has been telling us for years, igniting intense debates throughout the SEO community. 

Some claim the leak proves Google lies (strong words). Others advise caution, saying a thorough examination of the documents is required before we march Google to the guillotine.

What happened?

In early May, a treasure trove of Google Search API documents (not yet proven to come from Google) found its way to Rand Fishkin (co-founder of SparkToro, a marketing research website).

While to the layperson, much of the information is technically overwhelming, for Rand Fishkin and Mike King (iPullRank founder), the data reveals sensitive details on Google’s search operations, saying they:

  • “Found them to be both containing previously unknown information and, crucially, legitimate.”

What the documents appear to expose

The content seems to contradict previous Google statements regarding how they rank content, such as how Google doesn’t consider sub-domains separately when ranking websites, sparking intense scrutiny and debates from SEO professionals.

Leaked documents also cover topics like: 

  • The type of data Google collects and uses.
  • Sites Google elevates for sensitive issues, like elections.
  • How user engagement influences rankings.
  • Reasons Google demotes content. 
  • How Google handles small websites.

Without Google’s official confirmation, the implications are still unclear. However, while Google has not publicly commented on the leak, Erfan Azimi (CEO of EA Eagle Digital) claims Google Search employees verified the content.

Document authenticity

Azimi’s claim that ex-Google Search employees have verified the authenticity of the leaked information only serves to doubt its origin, as all declined to go on record. 

Several ex-employees, however, stated that the documents seemed legitimate.

Rand Fishkin confirmed the authenticity, saying: 

“A critical next step in the process was verifying the authenticity of the API Content Warehouse documents. So, I reached out to some ex-Googler friends, shared the leaked docs, and asked for their thoughts.”


The response from the ex-Google employees: 

  • “It has all the hallmarks of an internal Google API.”


Fishkin released what the ex-employees told him:

  • “I didn’t have access to this code when I worked there. But this certainly looks legit.”
  • “It has all the hallmarks of an internal Google API.”
  • “It’s a Java-based API. And someone spent a lot of time adhering to Google’s own internal standards for documentation and naming.”
  • “I’d need more time to be sure, but this matches internal documentation I’m familiar with.”
  • “Nothing I saw in a brief review suggests this is anything but legit.”

What people are saying

SEO professionals point out that just because something appears in a leaked API document does not confirm its utilization in ranking search results.

Industry experts advise caution, as Google may have used the information for testing, or it only applies to specific search verticals. 

Possible SEO implications vs. keeping an open mind

While the SEO community analyzes and debates the authenticity of the leaked documents, no one can say with certainty Google lied or that this is even an actual leak.

Even if Google confirms it originated from Search (don’t hold your breath), the information is over a year old and might have changed, meaning using any insights from the leak as actionable SEO strategies would be inadvisable.  

Terry O'Toole

Terry O'Toole

Terry is a seasoned content marketing specialist with over six years of experience writing content that helps small businesses navigate where small businesses meet marketing - SEO, Social Media Marketing, etc. Terry has a proven track record of creating top-performing content in search results. When he is not writing content, Terry can be found on his boat in Italy or chilling in his villa in Spain.

SEO Power Plays

Read by 10,000+ world-class SEOs, CEOs, Founders, & Marketers. Strategy breakdown: monday.com's 77% traffic boost 🚀 + Industry news and expert tidbits every Wednesday 🔍 + in-depth SEO strategy tips every Sunday ✨