An Anonymous Source Shared Thousands of Leaked Google Search API Documents with Rand Fishkin; Everyone in SEO Should See Them

Leaked Google API docs reveal undisclosed search ranking factors used by Google, challenging public denials.

: Rand Fishkin received a massive leak of Google's Search API documents, revealing undisclosed methods like NavBoost that use user engagement metrics to influence search rankings. The documents suggest features like user click data and domain age are considered, contrary to Google's public statements. The leak, verified by former Google employees and analyzed by SEO experts, offers insights into Google's guarded search operation techniques.

Rand Fishkin is a prominent SEO expert and entrepreneur, best known for founding Moz, a leading SEO software company. He has authored several influential books on SEO and digital marketing, including "Lost and Founder" and "The Art of SEO." After leaving Moz in 2018, he founded SparkToro, a company that provides audience intelligence and market research tools. Rand is well-known for his educational content, particularly the "Whiteboard Friday" video series, and is a respected figure in the digital marketing community

Key issues raised by the leaked documents:

  1. Leak of Google Search API Documents:

    • Origin: Thousands of API documents leaked from within Google Search.
    • Authentication: The leaked documents have been confirmed as genuine by a former Google employee.
    • Contradictions: Statements in the documents contradict Google's public statements on user signals, subdomains, sandbox for new sites, and domain age.
  2. Notable Information from the Leaked Documents:

    • NavBoost:
      • System uses clickstream data from Google Toolbar PageRank and Chrome browser to improve search result quality.
      • Utilizes search frequency and click frequency to determine search trends.
      • Differentiates between long clicks and short clicks to assess user interest levels.
    • Chrome and Clickstream:
      • Google uses click data from the Chrome browser to identify important URLs on websites.
      • Click data from Chrome helps determine top URLs in features like Sitelinks.
    • Whitelists:
      • Google employs whitelists for websites related to travel, COVID-19, and election information to ensure the display of trustworthy sites.
    • Quality Rater Feedback:
      • Feedback from quality raters is used in the search system to evaluate the relevance and quality of websites.
    • Click Data and Links:
      • Click data is used to categorize links and determine if a link should be counted in ranking scores.
  3. Document Analysis and Verification:

    • Data Details: The documents contain detailed information about the data Google collects but do not specify the weighting of individual factors in the ranking algorithm.
    • Verification: Experts and former Google employees have confirmed the authenticity of the documents, stating they adhere to Google's internal standards.
  4. Factors Affecting SEO:

    • Brand:
      • Large and well-known brands have a significant advantage in search rankings due to their recognition and popularity.
    • E-E-A-T:
      • Experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness may not be as crucial as many think but still play a role in overall evaluation.
    • User Intent:
      • User intent and behavior patterns strongly influence rankings, with NavBoost playing a critical role in this assessment.
    • Traditional Factors:
      • PageRank and anchor text have diminished in importance, but page titles remain highly important in ranking.
  5. Direction for the SEO Industry:

    • Research: Encourages analysts and SEO practitioners to study the documents and publish their findings.
    • Caution: Calls for the SEO industry to be cautious and critically evaluate Google's public statements, avoiding blind trust.