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    Leaked Google Docs Show Click Data’s Role in Search Rankings: Report

    What’s the news: More than 2,500 pages of Google’s API (application programming interface) documentation containing 14,014 API attributes were reportedly leaked on Github on March 27, 2024, and stayed up on the site until May 7. These API documents reveal what Google considers important when ranking a website on its search engine. The leak was spotted by Erfan Azimi, founder of the search engine optimization (SEO) company EA Eagle Digital, and was reported on by SEO practitioner Rand Fishkin. 

    Based on their analysis of the leaked data, the two SEO practitioners said that Google uses click data (including good, bad, and long clicks) in its systems like NavBoost and Glue. As per a testimony given by Google’s VP of Search, Pandu Nayak, in Google’s US lawsuit, these systems help rank content that ultimately shows up on search engine result pages. The data suggests that Google has ways of filtering out clicks they don’t want to count in their ranking systems and including the ones that they do. The company also appears to be measuring the length of clicks and impressions. 

    The use of click data here is interesting given that Google has previously denied considering click data in search ranking. It must be noted here that Google has not confirmed the data leak. We have reached out to Google and will update the story once we hear from the company.

    Other key findings of the data leak:

    • Google creates site links based on the most clicked URLs in Google Chrome: Sitelinks are sub-links that show up under a main site listing. For instance, if you search for MediaNama, you will get the following site links—
    Leaked Google Docs Show Click Data’s Role in Search Rankings: Report

    Based on Fishkin’s reading of the leaked data, the site links created by Google factor in the number of clicks on pages in the Chrome browser. 

    • Google whitelists certain authorities and sites: If you search for travel in the leaked data you find a model dedicated to “Good quality Travel sites” which Fishkin argues suggests that the company has a whitelist in place for travel sites. Similarly, it could be argued that the company also has other whitelists, based on leaked code that flags local authorities pertaining to COVID-19 and the elections. 

    You can read Fishkin’s complete analysis of the leak and efforts to verify that the data belongs to Google here.

    Also read:

    The post Leaked Google Docs Show Click Data’s Role in Search Rankings: Report appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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