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Google might have accidentally published docs about how Search works

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On Monday, internal documents describing what factors Google Search takes into consideration when ranking and displaying web results leaked.

The documents were given to and subsequently publicized by Rand Fishkin of SparkToro, a software company. Fiskin previously worked in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. 

This “Google API Content Warehouse” contains internal API documentation that explains to employees how the various components that generate Search results work. There are over 2,500 pages in total. Some describe older systems, but the docs otherwise appear to be current.

Based on what has been published, Google looks to have made it publicly available — presumably on accident — via GitHub starting on March 27. The explanatory documents were then pulled on May 7. However, as it was indexed by a third-party service during that period, a copy of it remains available even after Google removed it. 

While this data shows what factors Google Search might take into consideration when ordering Search results, it does not reveal what the importance/”weight” of each factor is to the final ranking.

People in the SEO community, who try to adapt to Google Search’s ranking changes and appear higher up on the page, might find this data helpful. After reviewing this documentation, they allege that it contradicts what Google has publicly said about how Search works.

Google has yet to publicly comment on this leak.

The company announced its last big update to Search in March with the aim of showing more genuine content that is “helpful.” Its core ranking systems were updated to determine if a page was “created for search engines instead of people.” 

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