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Major Google Search Document Leak Exposes Inner Workings of Ranking Algorithm

By ||Published On: June 3rd, 2024||Categories: Firefly Marketing, Food for Thought, Marketing||

Recently leaked documents have provided an unprecedented glimpse into the factors that Google Search uses, or has used, for ranking content. These factors include website clicks, backlinks, content, Chrome data, and more.

The Leak

On March 13, 2024 an automated bot named “yoshi-code-bot” released thousands of documents on GitHub, which appear to originate from Google’s internal Content API Warehouse. These documents were shared with Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, earlier this month. This leak is poised to become one of the most significant events in the history of SEO and Google Search.

Key Insights from the Documents

Here’s what the leak has revealed:

  • Current Information: The documents reflect the state of Google’s ranking features as of March 2024.

  • Ranking Features: The API documentation lists 2,596 modules with 14,014 attributes. However, the weighting of these features is not specified.

  • Twiddlers: These are re-ranking functions that can adjust a document’s retrieval score or change its ranking.

  • Demotions: Content can be demoted for several reasons, such as:

    • Link mismatch with the target site
    • SERP signals indicating user dissatisfaction
    • Product reviews
    • Location relevance
    • Exact match domains
    • Pornographic content
  • Change History: Google maintains a copy of every version of every page it has indexed, but only considers the last 20 changes of a URL when analyzing links.

Link diversity and relevance remain crucial, with PageRank still playing a significant role in the ranking features. PageRank for a homepage influences the ranking of all its documents. This does not necessarily contradict Google’s previous statements about links not being a “top 3 ranking factor” or links mattering less for ranking, as the specific weight of these features is still unknown.

Successful Clicks and Content Quality

For our clients, the information so far tells us what we already knew: To rank well, creating great content and providing excellent user experiences are essential. Google uses various technical measurements, including badClicks, goodClicks, lastLongestClicks, and unsquashedClicks, which help Google measure if the user is engaged with the content.


Getting to look “behind the curtain” of Google’s algorithm could potentially cause knee-jerk adjustments to many SEO strategies. In the coming weeks, Firefly may tweak its own strategies for clients. However, the main techniques will remain in place:

  • Driving more successful clicks through diverse keyword strategies
  • Earning more link diversity offsite and onsite
  • Strong content naturally attracts more qualified traffic and sends positive signals to Google

The Importance of Brand and Entities

Building a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, in and out of Google search, is crucial. Google also considers entity authorship and uses something called “siteAuthority,” despite past denials of a website authority score.

Firefly continues to stay on the cutting edge of long-term strategies to help build and maintain our clients’ strong rankings. This leak has reinforced nearly all of our ideas of how to provide SEO for our clients. That said, we will always be looking for opportunities to give our clients the edge.

Firefly Marketing team

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About the Author: Bill Dalton

Fearless leader of the Fireflies since 1998, Bill is likely to take charge in a situation and explore worthwhile, effective solutions that can benefit others. Putting the “unity” in community, Bill is energized by leading others to success and can often be found rewarding the team with some good home cooking. His knack for finding the sweet spot between leadership and collaboration allows the team to thrive in a fast-paced environment.

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