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Google Internal Document Leak Reveals Ranking Algorithm Factors; Citation Quality Confirmed to Far Surpass Quantity

July 1, 2024 /
All industries  /   Algorithm Updates 

An automated bot leaked documents from Google’s internal Content API Warehouse. The documents demonstrated features of Google’s Search ranking algorithm, listing more than 2,500 modules and over 14,000 attributes that go into ranking websites. Many well-known factors such as clicks, links, content, entities, and Chrome data all go into rankings, with the document revealing the relevance, or lack thereof, of other factors not often considered. This document does not solely contain confirmed ranking factors and can’t be used as a “cheat sheet” towards optimization, but SEO experts can make some key takeaways.

One of the biggest ranking factors that these documents do hint at is the swing away from long-tail syndication, which means that the absolute quantity of links back to a website does not matter. Google cares more about links from trusted sources than from all sources. Put another way, it is citation quality, not quantity, that matters.

The relevance of quality links is extrapolated from the factors Google chooses to suppress or emphasize. Google has a sitewide authority score, despite claiming they don’t calculate an authority measure like Domain Authority or Domain Rating, and this suggests it may be an important ranking factor. Likewise, links from websites with low domain authority, from different countries or from other untrusted sources, are not factored into rankings. This implies there is no positive benefit from low-quality links, and that Google also ignores malicious spam attacks, not allowing bad actors to derail competitors with negative SEO.

Again, the full list of factors that Google may put into its ranking algorithm goes into the tens of thousands of unique components. What we know is that all these attributes at one point went into rankings but can’t be certain of to what degree. General patterns are all that we can observe and what we are seeing is that Google ranks how much they trust websites and this level of trust is crucial.

Quality over quantity is what matters when it comes to citation building. Websites and local listings only need citations on major platforms such as Apple, Bing, Facebook, etc. DAC has seen this in the countless programs we run where we take over from a citation management focused competitor only to drive a significant increase in ranking, impressions, and actions. DAC has numerous case studies which prove quality is more important than quantity and now with this Google document leak, it has corroborated the position we once only held from internal data.