Google confirms leak of search algorithm documentation, adds it lacks context

Victor Barreiro Jr.

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Google confirms leak of search algorithm documentation, adds it lacks context

GOOGLE. The Google logo is seen on the Google house at CES 2024, an annual consumer electronics trade show, in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 10, 2024.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

The details surrounding the documents are first discussed by search engine optimization experts Rand Fishkin and Mike King, with both noting how some of the information contradicted public statements about Google's search

MANILA, Philippines – Google confirmed on Wednesday, May 29 (May 30, Philippine time) that a 2,500-page trove of leaked internal documents about Google’s search system and what details it keeps track of is real, but said the documentation lacks context.

The details surrounding the documents were first expounded upon by search engine optimization (SEO) experts Rand Fishkin and Mike King in separate blog posts. Both noted how some of the information contradicted public statements about Google’s search.

Fishkin’s reporting said the documents discussed the application programming interface of Google Search, and also what information employees had access to.

The Verge, in its initial report, said “The leaked documents touch on topics like what kind of data Google collects and uses, which sites Google elevates for sensitive topics like elections, how Google handles small websites, and more.”

A follow-up report mentioned that the leaked documentation “suggests that Google collects and potentially uses data that company representatives have said do not contribute to ranking webpages in Google Search, like clicks, Chrome user data, and more.”

Fishkin and King cited one example, wherein Google previously said it doesn’t use Chrome data to inform its search quality or rank pages. However, Fishkin said in his report that, “The API documents suggest Google calculates several types of metrics that can be called using Chrome views related to both individual pages and entire domains.”

Google responds

Google, in a response sent out to media, said, “We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information. We’ve shared extensive information about how Search works and the types of factors that our systems weigh, while also working to protect the integrity of our results from manipulation.”

Search Engine Land, in its report, added that Google “won’t comment about specifics because Google never comments on specifics when it comes to its ranking algorithm” in a bid to protect the integrity of Search against spammers and bad actors.

Google Search’s ubiquity is a force to be reckoned with in the digital sphere, with implications impacting individual users, businesses, and organizations and industries at large. While the document trove is exhaustive and technical, it also doesn’t paint a current, accurate picture of how Search works in the now, though it at least gives the SEO-minded a peek into the heart of Google. –

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.