4 Takeaways from the Google API Leak and What They Mean for SEO

Google has long been hush-hush about its exact ranking factors, leaving SEOs and content creators with plenty of guesswork and speculation. Well, guess no more – the recent Google API leak has let the cat out of the bag in the most spectacular fashion.

The leak confirmed what many SEOs already suspected. Things like content quality, backlinks, domain authority, and content freshness all play a role in how content ranks. These are hardly surprising or jaw-dropping, but they do serve as good reminders when creating new content. 

What the leak didn’t reveal was how much weight the algorithms give to these and other ranking factors. Some factors may matter more than others, so it’s still anyone’s guess as to which areas to prioritize.

Still, we can learn a lot about these spilled secrets, so let’s dig into our key takeaways from Google’s leaked ranking factors – it’s the gift that keeps giving.

1. Google’s Algorithm Is Highly Complex – and So Is SEO

We’ve known for years that SEO is multi-faceted. But the leaked documents show just how complex SEO can be. According to
Search Engine Land, the API includes 2,596 modules containing 14,014 attributes.


That’s a lot of moving parts to master. Even though we don’t know how each of these features affect rankings, we at least know what they are. This means marketers can create best practices based on these known factors and watch for first-hand proof of their influence.


It also underscores the reason why SEOs tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re only paying for backlinks, only blogging, or only relying on keywords, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the SEO landscape. 


These things are important to SEO (as the docs confirm), but there’s so much more to it. Working with an SEO agency will give you the most comprehensive results.

(PS. You can read more about our thoughts on Google’s Algorithm updates in an interview we recently did with Website Planet here)

2. It’s Not Just What You Say – It’s Where on the Page You Say It

For many years, marketers have doubled down on long-form content. There are good reasons for this:


  • Longer content is more comprehensive and therefore may appear more authoritative
  • It keeps readers on the page longer
  • It gives you more opportunities to work in keywords


However, the Google API leak might have you rethinking your long-form content – at least in terms of how you structure it.


Longer content may get truncated, which means bots aren’t reading the entire page. The docs don’t go into detail about how long your long-form content should be, but the takeaway is clear: Add your most important content early on the page. 


The first part of your content should clearly relay what the content is about. It should contain your most important keywords and ideas. This is what search bots will use to understand and rank your content.


Shorter content is ranked on a totally different scale. Originality matters most here, according to the leak. If you’re writing short-form content, you want to differentiate it as much as possible from what others are writing on the same topic. Make sure you’re saying something unique, not just rehashing what’s already been said by dozens of other websites.

3. Branding Matters, Inside and Outside of Google

One reason why guest posts and brand mentions outside of your own platforms are so effective is because they contribute to your digital profile. Anyone can create content for their own site, but not everyone can persuade other websites to publish them. When you do get published or mentioned on other channels, Google takes notice.


In the leak, branding is king. When you build a notable brand (including a personal brand) across multiple channels, you’re more likely to perform better in Google search. A good brand gives you consistency, and mentions of your brand can act similarly to backlinks. These mentions help Google understand you and your brand, which can mean better rankings in relevant search queries.


We also see that authorship matters. Google associates your professional name or brand with your content across the web. This helps the algorithm to know who you are and what you’re about. 


Bots use this “profile” to determine whether you’re the real author of a document. For example, if you’re a digital marketing pro and someone with the same name writes a blog about quantum physics, it’s likely the two authors aren’t the same. This is why it’s important to choose only relevant sites when you’re guest posting, as the right sites will contribute to Google’s idea of you.

4. Link Quality Matters, and Google Is Paying Attention

Link diversity matters, along with the relevance of those links. This is something we’ve known all along about SEO, though the documents fall short of confirming how much of a ranking factor links are. Trust that Google is monitoring where links are coming from and whether they make contextual sense to your brand or business. 


Also, with the knowledge that Google uses clicks as a ranking factor, link quality gains new importance. Clicks have a direct impact on how Google classifies a link: low quality, medium quality, or high quality.  If your backlink is contextually relevant and helpful, more people clicking the link and visiting your site may give you an SEO boost. Links also give you a chance to drive clicks from a broader set of keywords and phrases, which can add extra context to your content.

Cleaning Up Your Strategy After the Google API Leak

The Google API leak isn’t exactly a smoking gun, but it should be a wake-up call to marketers regarding what they should be prioritizing in their content and link building. Neglecting key areas like link building or putting all your SEO eggs in one basket gives your competitors a chance to pass you in the rankings.


SEOJet can help you clean up your strategy with contextual link building. Check out our monthly offers to save money and find your landing spot on Google’s Page 1.

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