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When the mask comes off: What Google’s leaked documents means for the internet

This week, after decades of guesswork and trying to unpack secrets, we were able to get a slight glimpse under the hood of how Google’s ranking system works. Here are our main takeaways after the tea was spilled...


Natalia Sketchley



1. Reports about the death of digital PR were a bit premature

In recent months there has been a lot of discussion around whether digital PR and link-building are necessary for rankings and what the actual impact is. Especially given the latest push on ‘helpful content’ from Google, the efficacy of big, flashy campaigns was called into question.

But let’s be honest, this is a constant conversation that makes the rounds every year in some capacity. And the answer always comes back to the fact that links and coverage are necessary to boost brand visibility and performance. You can create incredible content on site, but if no one can find it or hear about it, does it even exist?

What we would say about digital PR, though, is that all these conversations are really about how well the industry can pivot and be creative about their storytelling. Trends are great but digital PRs - like any other group in the creative industry - have to buck trends and build the next big thing. Going out with what used to work isn’t going to have the same cut-through. So, time to put away those ‘dream job’ PR stunts.

2. On that score, make sure to keep your content fresh

Google is ranking content on its freshness and originality. It’s easy to want to hit copy and paste, especially when trying to bridge the gap between your brand and another site. But what are you actually adding to the conversation that would make users choose your content over another site?

This is going to hold particularly true for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) sites. Make sure you have authors on your content to build up your expertise and authority (and don’t be afraid to build that out with digital PR, as Google has also stated that they follow authors as their own entities).

Content freshness also means optimising the experience. Quality of clickthrough success is going to impact your rankings. Making pages that people interact with and which make them want to stay on your site is going to ensure that future content from your brand will also be seen.

3. Brand building is as big of a deal as it ever was

Site authority scores will have a summer glow-up after this latest reveal. For the past couple of years, it’s fallen out of fashion to report on Moz/ahrefs/Semrush domain authority scores. Granted, these secondary scores will always be flawed because they’re based on different metrics, but finding out that Google does partially base their ranking algorithms on how well-known brands are, will impact how they focus their marketing budgets.

That gives us an even greater opportunity to integrate marketing channels. Brand building is about showing up where the audience are and making them aware. Making sure all marketing is recognisable and laddering back to the same strategy will improve brand awareness, which can help your brand be more ‘findable’ in the SERP. SEO competitor insights will help teams plan out their communications strategy by seeing how their brands currently perform. That paired with traditional audience research can help make more robust plans that work harder across channels.

Overall, the Google leak, while juicy, has shown the industry that they have been on the right track for years. And things that we all thought that Google had moved on from, haven’t really changed as drastically as they would have had us think. The main thing is building brands and content that real people recognise and will gravitate towards.

Get in touch with our team to find out how we can support your brand building and develop your SEO strategy.


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