HUGE Google Search document leak reveals inner workings of ranking algorithm

A trove of leaked Google documents has given us an unprecedented look inside Google Search and revealed some of the most important elements Google uses to rank content.

What happened. Thousands of leaked internal documents, which appear to come from Google’s internal Content API Warehouse, were shared with Rand Fishkin, SparkToro co-founder, earlier this month.

Read on to discover what we’ve learned from Fishkin, as well as Michael King, iPullRank CEO who also reviewed the documents (and plans to provide further analysis for Search Engine Land soon).

Why we care. This leak gives us a glimpse inside how Google’s ranking algorithm works, which is invaluable for SEOs who can understand what it all means. In 2023, we got an unprecedented look at Yandex Search ranking factors via a leak, which was one of the biggest stories of that year. This Google document leak? It will likely be one of the biggest stories in the history of SEO and Google Search.

What’s inside. Here’s what we know about the leaked documents from Fishkin and King:

Current: The documentation indicates this information is accurate as of March.

Ranking features: 2,596 modules are represented in the API documentation with 14,014 attributes.

Weighting: The documents did not specify how any of the ranking features are weighted – just that they exist.

Twiddlers: These are re-ranking functions that “can adjust the information retrieval score of a document or change the ranking of a document,” according to King.

Demotions: Content can be demoted for a variety of reasons:

If a link doesn’t match the target site.

If SERP signals indicate user dissatisfaction.

Product reviews.


Exact match domains.


Change history: Google apparently keeps a copy of every version fo every page of it has ever indexed. This means Google can “remember” every change ever made to a page, but it only sees to use the last 20 changes of a URL when analyzing links.

Links matter. Shocking, I know. This leak confirms that link diversity and relevance remain key.

This doesn’t prove Google spokespeople have lied about links not being a “top 3 ranking factor” or links mattering less for ranking. Two things can be true at once. Again, we don’t know how any of these features are weighted.

Successful clicks matter. This should not be a shocker, but if you want to rank well, you need to keep creating great content and provide a good user experience.

Brand matters. Fishkin’s big takeaway from the leak is that brand matters more than anything else:

“If there was one universal piece of advice I had for marketers seeking to broadly improve their organic search rankings and traffic, it would be: ‘Build a notable, popular, well-recognized brand in your space, outside of Google search.’”

Entities matter. Google stores author information associated with content.

Story developing. Keep checking back for updates.

The articles.

Secrets from the Algorithm: Google Search’s Internal Engineering Documentation Has Leaked by King on iPullRank

An Anonymous Source Shared Thousands of Leaked Google Search API Documents with Me; Everyone in SEO Should See Them by Fishkin on SparkToro