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Leaked Documents Reveal How Google Search Gatekeeps the Internet

Google Search is often referred to as the doorstep to the internet—it’s the first stop on most people’s journey to information online. However, Google doesn’t say much about how it organizes the internet, making Search a giant black box that dictates what we know and what we don’t. This week, a 2,500-page leak, first reported by search engine optimization (SEO) veteran Rand Fishkin, gave the world an insight into the 26-year-old mystery of Google Search.

What the Leak Revealed

These leaked documents may have provided a more detailed view of how Google Search controls the information we consume. Bringing the right webpage to your computer is no passive task as thousands of editorial decisions are made on your behalf by a secretive group of Googlers. For SEO, an industry that lives and dies by Google’s algorithms, the leaked documents are an earthquake. It could possibly be like the NFL’s referees rewrote the rules of football halfway through the season, and you’re just finding out while playing the Super Bowl — but we will have to see!

Several SEO experts tell Gizmodo the leak lists 14,000 ranking features which, at the very least, lay a blueprint for how Google organizes everything on the web. Some of these factors include Google’s determination of a website’s authority on a given subject, the size of the website, or the number of clicks a webpage receives. Google has previously denied that it uses some of these ranking features in Search, but the company confirmed these documents are real, albeit, in its telling, imperfect.

Google’s Response

“We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information,” a Google spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo. “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.”

With respect to Google’s “caution,” the company won’t confirm what is or isn’t right about these documents. Google says it’s incorrect to assume this is comprehensive information about Search, and tells Gizmodo that giving away too much information could enable bad actors. Ultimately, we don’t know what goes into determining these factors, or how much weight Google Search gives to each one, if any.

SEO Community’s Take

We’re just looking at different variables they’re considering,” said Mike King, an SEO expert who was one of the first to analyze the leak, in an interview with Gizmodo. Fishkin, King, and other SEO experts have been able to confirm and debunk quite a few SEO theories thanks to this leaked document. And it’s now clear to them that Google hasn’t been entirely truthful regarding how its search algorithm worked over the years.

In summary, the leak may have shed light on Google’s secretive ranking features, but the full picture remains elusive. As the SEO community continues to dissect the leaked information, we’ll likely see more revelations and discussions about how Google shapes our online experience.

For the complete articles, you can refer to the following sources:

  • Gizmodo: Leaked Documents Reveal How Google Search Gatekeeps the Internet
  • Outlook India: A Massive Document Leak Reveals Discrepancies In Google’s Search Practices And Hidden Algorithm Secrets
  • MSN: Google Search algorithm documents have leaked. Here’s what experts are saying.

 

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