Insights from the Google Algorithm Leak: What Buffalo Businesses Need to Know

by | May 31, 2024 | Buffalo SEO Experts, Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Welcome back to the blog here at Bean Media, where we like to give you a little sneak peak bean-hind the scenes of our world here. We cover a wide array of topics, from tips and tricks, to how-to’s and guides, and more topics like podcast marketing and social media strategy. Today, we wanted to dive back into the deep end with an update from Google. Or, rather, a leak regarding the algorithm that it uses in Search, and how we can use insights gleaned from it to better your digital marketing efforts. 

Imagine Google’s algorithm as the secret sauce from your favorite restaurant, or the recipe for Coca-Cola. Now, imagine that recipe got spilled, all over the internet. That’s basically what happened earlier this week when some internal documentation made its way onto the internet. But don’t worry! We can use the insights we’ve gleaned and can deploy them on your site. 

Understanding Google’s inner workings is important for businesses that are looking to enhance their digital footprint, but keeping track of it all is a lot when you’re also focused on running your business and doing the things you enjoy. So, let’s dive into it.

How Did the Leak Occur?

In an unexpected information dump, internal engineering documents for Google were leaked, showing us a deeper glimpse into the algorithms that we depend on to rank on Google’s SERP. The glimpse behind the curtain showed a detailed look into various modules and features that are used to sort results. For example, the Content Warehouse API stores much of the data Google uses for refining and improving search, and modules for different properties like YouTube, Assistant, and Books were found.

The documentation also gives us information about the ranking mechanisms themselves, showcasing how different features and attributes interact to determine the visibility of a piece of content. By having a deep understanding of the process of indexing, retrieval and ranking, we can optimize existing and develop new content for you that aligns with what Google wants to see. That way, we can reach the goal of getting your content and brand in front of your target audience. It’s provided us with a map to chart the waters of the algorithm. It allows us to tailor SEO for Buffalo businesses more effectively!

Essential Takeaways for Your Buffalo Business

Ranking Factors vs Features

One of the most eye-opening revelations from the leak is the clear distinction between ranking factors and features. Ranking factors are the core criteria that directly impact where a page appears in search results. These include elements like keywords and site speed. Essentially, they are the backbone of the ranking process, dictating the fundamental order of search results.

In the other corner, we have features. Features add layers of complexity and customization to the results, and a sense of personalization. They’re additional elements that foster a better user experience by sorting results based on more individualized factors like past searches and location. Other features include things like the rich results snippets, giving users potential answers to their questions without clicking through to a website. Simply focusing on traditional ranking factors might not be enough alone, which is where an experienced digital marketing agency comes into the picture.

Google’s Policy of Obfuscation 

The leak also makes mention of instances where public statements from Google don’t match up with the data we’ve been shown. To be fair to Google, in many cases this is fine – they want to protect their proprietary search algorithm and avoid giving too much away so that it can be reverse-engineered. However, let’s run through an example. For years, Google has downplayed the importance of click data in influencing rankings, but right in the code we see that clicks are still indeed a ranking factor. 

Not to mention, VP of Search at Google, Pandu Nayak, revealed the existence of Glue and NavBoost in ranking. NavBoost uses click-driven metrics to boost, demote, or reinforce a Web Search ranking, having been around since 2005 and continuously updated since. We see that Google tracks and uses clicks in NavBoost, with a module dedicated to measuring that data, naming them good clicks, bad clicks, last longest clicks, unsquashed clicks and last longest unsquashed clicks as factors in the system. NavBoost is named 84 times in the leak and there are 5 modules that feature it in the title. 

Understanding the discrepancies between public comments and actual practices is key for businesses that are trying to optimize for SEO. Let this be a lesson on the importance of staying informed through a variety of sources!

What Does it Mean? Detailed Insights for Your Buffalo Business


Rolling Back The Curtain on 14,000+ Ranking Factors

The leaked documents unveil a staggering 14,000+ attributes used by Google to evaluate and rank content. This list illustrates the complexity and depth of Google’s ranking algorithms. Among these attributes, specific modules for platforms like YouTube, Google Assistant, and Google Books demonstrate the specialized nature of Google’s evaluation process. Each module is tailored to handle the unique characteristics and user expectations of these platforms, ensuring that search results are highly relevant and useful. For example, YouTube ranking features might prioritize video engagement metrics, while Google Books could focus more on content relevance and authority within literary circles. This level of integration and specialization means businesses must consider the specific attributes relevant to their content type and platform to optimize effectively.

The Impact of Click Data on Rankings

As we touched on in the previous section, the leak confirms that click data is an important signal when it comes to page rank. In spite of mentions to the contrary, measures like Click Through Rate (CTR) bounce rate, and time spent on the page plays a role in what ranks where. Another factor that can go into that list is “last good click”, which indicates that Google also measures relevance over time in the eyes of searchers. For your business, this means creating quality, engaging content that people want and encourages them to click, stay, interact and share. The more engagement a piece of content gets, the higher it rises in rankings.

We saw this ourselves in a blog post we ran about video introductions. When it had taken the featured snippet spot, its clicks had shot through the roof and it sat solidly in position 1. As Google updated its SERPs to push video content in certain searches, including the query for “how to introduce yourself in a youtube video”, the clicks it got started to falter, and it fell out of the top position to a video on the topic. 

The Reality of Sandboxing New Sites

This is something that Google denied publicly for a long time, saying that they don’t handicap newer sites in SERP to instead show more established outlets. In actuality, they use the “hostAge” attribute to isolate new websites so they don’t immediately influence the results. Again, it makes sense in theory, if all you needed to do to hit rank 1 was make a new site, and spam content links to unreputable sources that were also made in the last week, everyone would have something ranking in that position. It helps to combat sites that are created in just a few minutes to spam content.

By sandboxing, Google boosts content that provides genuine, long-term value to readers. This means that you should manage your expectations for a new business website, not expect to immediately see high rankings, and commit to quality and an SEO strategy to establish your experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

Practical SEO Implications for Buffalo Businesses

What's up people

Strategic Adjustments Based on the Leak

With the insights we can gather from this leak, SEO agencies in Buffalo like us can better align to what actually matters in Google’s eyes while writing the engaging, high-quality, and in-depth content that readers love and shows you as the trustworthy expert in the field. The SEO strategy of creating quality content in a visually pleasing manner and optimizing its ability to be found, and remain relevant, is vital. A multifaceted digital marketing approach is best – that means maximizing your web presence with social media marketing, YouTube advertising, website SEO, and a good user design and experience.

Don’t leave that up to the one person with “marketing” in their title, bring in an outside agency to get the best return for that dollar – that way you can shift your focus entirely to your product, service, or customers. 

Focus Areas for Local SEO Success

For businesses in Buffalo, NY, these insights translate into strategies tailored to local audiences. Emphasizing high-quality, engaging content is essential. This could involve creating locally relevant blog posts, guides, and resources that address specific needs and interests of the Buffalo community. Using video production can have an incredible impact on your engagement metrics, as users tend to share video content more freely and they can effectively capture your message. If a picture can tell 1000 words, imagine the novels you can tell with just a few minutes of videos. 

Social media marketing also plays a part, you can’t discount the traffic that websites like Facebook and Instagram get. They allow you to reach a wider audience in your area, and allow your customers to forge a relationship with your brand. This all feeds into more engagement, leading to better results, and creating a digital marketing strategy that keeps itself running.

How Bean Media Productions Can Boost Your Buffalo SEO

With our extensive experience in the digital marketing space, we are finely tuned to helping businesses in Buffalo reach their audience. We can apply these insights to achieve real results in your online marketing efforts, while you focus on your business and customers. Our SEO experts can write this engaging content for you in an informed manner to attract more users and keep their attention. Here’s just two methods how:

  • Content Quality Improvement: We can work with you to develop the high-quality content that users and Google love to see, or create it for you with our team of talented creators, to improve your website visibility.
  • Enhanced User Engagement: By bringing in video production and other interactive content, we can boost your key performance indicators. Video content is inherently more engaging than written, and can capture and retain users at a completely different level. 

By partnering with an experienced digital marketing agency, you get the peace of mind that your business is not only adapting to the latest trends in SEO, but also thrives in the online marketing space. Every business is the story of the people that brought it to this point, let us tell yours to the world!

Be Heard with Bean Media Productions

The revelations we’ve been able to gather from Google’s algorithm highlight the importance of staying up to date with the ever-evolving landscape of SEO. By having an understanding of the rankings that go into the SERPs, businesses like yours can better position themselves for success. Choosing the right digital marketing agency doesn’t just enhance your efforts, it multiplies them. With Bean Media, you’re not just adding a boutique SEO and marketing agency, you’re getting a partner who’s committed to your success. Discover the best SEO practices for small businesses in Buffalo that can help you enhance your online presence and attract more local customers!

Stay up to date with our blog, where we’ll regularly send out some basic advice on digital marketing, including SEO, video production, graphic design, website development and design, and more. You can also find our socials on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn to get a more detailed picture of who we are and how we do things. If you’re ready to launch your digital marketing strategy into the stratosphere, give us a call or fill out a contact form! We can’t wait to discuss how to springboard your business. Let’s create something great together. After all, isn’t it time to tell your story?