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SEO Success Jun 17, 2024

12 Key Insights from Google’s Documentation Leak for Link Builders and Digital PRs

Links are still important, and their relevance is crucial. Following previous disclosure of Google’s Content API Warehouse documentation, the SEO community has been abuzz with analysis.

But what insights can link builders and digital PRs gain from the documents?

Since news of the leak broke, considerable time has been spent investigating what the documentation reveals about links.

AnchorMismatchDemotion The analysis aimed to gain insights around a few key questions:

  • Do links still matter?
  • Are some links more likely to contribute to SEO success than others?
  • How does Google define link spam?

To clarify, the leaked documentation doesn’t contain confirmed ranking factors. Instead, it includes information on more than 2,500 modules and over 14,000 attributes.

Below are key findings from the documents that link builders and digital PRs should pay close attention to.

1. Relevancy of Links is Crucial

Relevancy has always been a key topic in digital PR, but it’s often challenging to quantify. The leaked documents suggest that Google likely disregards links from irrelevant sources, as indicated by the term “anchorMismatchDemotion” in the CompressedQualitySignals module.

This suggests that mismatched links – possibly in terms of topic relevance – are demoted or ignored. This underscores the importance of ensuring links come from contextually relevant sources.

2. Local Relevance Enhances Link Value

The AnchorsAnchorSource module hints that links from locally relevant sources (same country) are more valuable.

The presence of an attribute called “localCountryCodes” implies that Google prioritizes links from pages that are geographically relevant. This supports the strategy of focusing on earning links from locally pertinent sites, which can enhance brand visibility and credibility in a specific region.

3. Google’s Site Authority Score

Despite Google’s public statements denying a direct equivalent to Domain Authority (DA) or Domain Rating (DR), the leaked documents reveal a “SiteAuthority” score. While it may not mirror DA or DR, it suggests a holistic metric evaluating a site’s overall quality, likely incorporating various factors beyond just links.

4. Newer Pages May Carry More Weight

Site Authority Score The documents suggest that links from newly published content might be more influential. The term “freshdocs” within the sourceType attribute indicates that links from new, high-quality pages are particularly valuable.

This finding underscores the importance of consistently earning links and explains why SEOs recommend that link building (regardless of the form, as that’s not the focus here) requires ongoing resources. It needs to be an “always-on” activity.

5. Trustworthiness of the Homepage Matters

The homePageInfo attribute in the AnchorsAnchorSource module suggests that the trust level of a site’s homepage may influence the value of its links. This implies that links from sites with highly trusted homepages are likely more beneficial.

6. Links from High-Quality News Sites Are Highlighted

It has been observed that Google stores additional details about links identified as coming from “high-quality” news sites.

Does this imply that links from news sources such as The New York Times, The Guardian, or the BBC hold more value than those from other websites?

The answer isn’t certain.

Nevertheless, considering that these news sites are among the most authoritative and trusted online—often having held a toolbar PageRank of 9 or 10 in the past—it does prompt further thought.

What is evident, however, is that utilizing digital PR to secure links from news publications is extremely beneficial. This finding reinforces that notion.

7. Seed Sites and Link Distance Ranking

The concept of seed sites and link distance ranking is reaffirmed, suggesting that proximity to trusted seed sites influences link value. This aligns with the idea that links from highly reputable sites are particularly valuable.

8. Trusted Sources and Link Spam Identification

The IndexingDocjoinerAnchorSpamInfo module indicates that Google may use “trusted sources” to gauge the likelihood of link spam.

While the exact criteria for a “trusted source” are unclear, considering other findings, it may be linked to the “homepage” trust.

Can links from reputable sources help neutralize the impact of spammy links?

It’s certainly possible.

9. Link Velocity and Negative SEO

The SEO community has debated whether negative SEO attacks are a major issue. Google claims they can detect these attacks, while many SEOs believe their sites have been harmed.

The documentation provides some clues on how Google identifies these attacks by looking at:

The period during which spammy links are acquired.

The average daily rate of detected spam.

The start of any sudden spikes in spammy links.

This method may also catch links intended to manipulate rankings, with the term “anchor spam spike” hinting at how Google spots large amounts of spam, a common problem with negative SEO attacks.

There are likely other factors involved, but this helps us understand how Google aims to prevent such attacks from negatively impacting sites.

10. Link Penalties and Adjustments

It appears Google can penalize or disregard links on a case-by-case basis or across all links pointing to a page. Does this mean Google can ignore all links, even high-quality ones, if there’s excessive link spam?

Local Relevance Links We can’t be certain. But if true, it implies that not just spammy links might be ignored, potentially affecting the impact of all links to a page.

Could this negate the effect of all links? It’s definitely a possibility.

11. Existence of Toxic Links

Despite Google’s public denial of the concept of “toxic links,” the term “BadBackLinks” in the documents suggests that Google does recognize and potentially penalize pages with bad links.

12. Contextual Relevance of Surrounding Content

SEOs have long relied on anchor text to give contextual signals about the target page, and Google’s guidelines confirm that anchor text informs both users and Google about the linked page.

However, recent leaked documents suggest that Google also considers the content surrounding the link. The documentation mentions context2, fullLeftContext, and fullRightContext, referring to the terms near the link.

This indicates that more than just the anchor text is used to determine a link’s relevancy. The surrounding content likely helps clarify the context and could affect the link’s weight.

Key Takeaways for Link Builders and Digital PRs

Do links still matter? Absolutely.

These findings reaffirm the significance of links as a ranking factor, especially those that are contextually and locally relevant. The insights emphasize the importance of focusing on quality, relevancy, and consistency in link-building efforts.

For those using outdated tactics, it’s time to pivot towards earning high-quality, relevant links through strategic digital PR efforts. Ensuring the links you acquire are from authoritative and contextually relevant sources will likely yield the best results for organic search success.

Reference: Google’s Documentation Leak: 12 Big Takeaways for Link Builders and Digital PRs

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