Google Search Leak Learnings

The 4 most important learnings from the Google Search Leak

At the end of Mai 2024, there was an unprecedented leak of internal Google documents that provide new insights into the tech giant's search algorithm. This leak has confirmed many theories that have been circulating in the SEO community for a long time, but also offers some exciting new information. Our partner agency United Ads is very familiar with the Google platform, SEO and SEA. For this reason, we asked CEO Alexander Sperber what we can all learn from the Google search leak.

Alex, how surprising was the Google search leak for you as an SEO agency and what are the key learnings that everyone can take away from it?

I've been working with the Google platform for over 15 years now and there's really never been anything like this. It was a shock to the whole SEO community - including us. I'd like to tell you about what we think are the four most important new findings from these leaked documents.

Clickstream data and its influence

One of the biggest surprises of the leak is the confirmation that Google uses clickstream data to rank websites. Google has always denied that they incorporate data from their Chrome browser into the search algorithm or use click data to determine rankings. However, the documents show that both Chrome data and the so-called long clicks - i.e. longer visits to websites - are actually used.

What is clickstream data?

Clickstream data includes information about user behavior on the Internet, such as which pages are visited, how long you stay on a site and which links are clicked. This data often comes from web browsers such as Google Chrome, which is the most widely used browser in the world.

What are long clicks?

Long clicks refer to longer visits to websites, which from Google's point of view indicates that you find the content relevant and useful.

This contrasts with short clicks, where you quickly return to the search results, which Google believes can be a sign that the website does not offer what you are looking for.

Why does Google use this data?

By analyzing clickstream data and long clicks, Google can better understand which websites actually offer added value to users . This helps Google to rank high-quality and relevant content higher in the search results.

What does this mean for you as a website operator?

You can take away three insights from this:

  • Generate long clicks: As a result, this is nothing new, but this clear confirmation of the use of click data is very relevant. So make sure that visitors stays on your website for longer and likes to return to it, i.e. generate long clicks.
  • Improve the user experience (UX): Make sure your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly and is attractively designed. 
  • Offer high-quality content: Provide content that meets the needs and interests of your target group. Well-researched, informative and useful content will keep visitors on your website site for longer.

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siteAuthority - Google's own domain rating

Another interesting detail of the leak is the mention of siteAuthority, an internal Google value that is comparable to the well-known Domain Authority of Moz. 

What is siteAuthority?

siteAuthority is a metric that Google uses to evaluate the authority and trustworthiness of a domain. This rating helps Google to assess the relevance of new pages more quickly, especially if there is no specific data about these new pages yet.

How does siteAuthority work?

Similar to Moz's Domain Authority, which is based on factors such as link profile, age of the domain and overall trustworthiness, Google uses siteAuthority to gain a general impression of the quality and credibility of a domain. If a new site is published from a domain that has a high siteAuthority, Google is likely to rank this site more positively.

Why is this important?

This information shows that Google uses signals at domain level to quickly assess the relevance and trustworthiness of new content. For you as an operator, this means that a strong, trustworthy domain can help you to rank new content faster. It is therefore important to build up a well-maintained domain in the long term.

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Devaluations by the algorithm

Finally, the leak reveals various algorithmic penalties that Google can impose on websites. Of particular interest here are the devaluations for product review sites and websites with poor navigation.

Product review pages:

Google seems to be taking particularly strict measures against product review sites. These sites are often the target of spam and low-quality content, as they often generate revenue through affiliate links. 

If Google finds that a product review page consists mainly of such low-quality content or does not contain any actual, authentic reviews, this can lead to a devaluation in the search results.

Poor navigation:

Another important finding is the devaluation of websites with poor navigation. users expect intuitive and easy-to-use navigation. If a website is difficult to navigate, takes a long time to load or has a confusing structure, this can lead to a negative user experience. Google recognizes this and tends to downgrade such pages in the search results.

Why is Google taking these measures?

Google's goal is to provide users with the best and most relevant search results. Pages with low-quality content or poor user guidance do not offer a good user experience and are therefore devalued. These measures are intended to ensure that high-quality, useful and user-friendly websites are given preferential treatment.

How can you counteract this?

To avoid your website being devalued by the algorithm, you should take the following measures:

  • Build authentic and useful product reviews: Make sure your product reviews are genuine and helpful. Avoid copied content and focus on creating added value for users .
  • Make the navigation clear and user-friendly: Optimize the structure of your website so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Avoid long loading times and make sure that all links and menus are intuitive to use.

The role of brand search queries

The leaked documents also suggest that the ratio of brand searches to inbound links plays an important role in the evaluation of websites. If a website has many links but only a few direct searches for the website's brand, this can be a negative signal for Google.

What does that mean exactly?

Brand search queries refer to the number of search queries in which users specifically search for a certain brand, for example "Adidas sneakers" or "Sony TV". These search queries show Google that a brand is known and trusted. 

A high volume of brand searches is a strong signal that the brand is popular with users and is seen as trustworthy.

Inbound links (backlinks) are links from other websites that refer to your website. They are a factor for the search engine ranking, as they are regarded by Google (and other search engines) as recommendations. 

However, if a website has too many backlinks in relation to the brand search queries, this can be a sign that the backlinks were artificially created to manipulate the search results and that the brand itself is not even known.

What should you do?

  • Increase awareness of your brand: Invest in marketing campaigns and use social media, advertising and PR to make your brand better known.
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity of backlinks: Focus on building quality backlinks from trustworthy and relevant websites rather than the sheer number of links.

Conclusion on the Google Search Leak

The Google search leak actually offers very interesting insights into how the search algorithm works. The leaked documents underline the importance of serious and sustainable search engine optimization.

Completely new SEO strategies cannot be derived from this, but the leak clearly shows that a user-friendly website, a strong brand and high-quality, authentic content remain the decisive keys to success in search engine optimization.

A few words about United Ads

UnitedAds has been one of the leading agencies for marketing on the Google platform for over 15 years. We take care of Google Ads and SEO for medium-sized and large companies. 

We always attach great importance to really understanding our clients' business model and plans in detail. This is the only way we can develop campaigns that can be scaled according to plan. 

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