By Kaitie Frank
29 May 2024

Leaked Documents Reveal Over 14,000 Google Search Ranking Features


On May 27, 2024, a significant event unfolded in the SEO community. Rand Fishkin, a renowned figure, revealed leaked documents containing over 14,000 Google Search ranking features. This revelation, claimed to be in the name of “transparency,” was a game-changer. Over the long weekend, Fishkin and iPullRank’s Mike King decoded the documentation, promising further evaluation later in the year. 

Here’s a brief overview of what we know so far from Fishkin and King:

The documentation contains 2,500 pages of API documentation containing 14,014 attributes represented in 2,596 modules.

The documentation meticulously outlines each module, breaking it into summaries, types, functions, and attributes. In this context, 'attributes' refer to specific characteristics or properties of a module that can influence its ranking. Notably, these attributes are not assigned any weight—the documentation merely acknowledges their existence. 

This lack of information about how these attributes are utilized in the ranking system is a significant knowledge gap. Some attributes may have been retired, while others are currently used. Fishkin states that the documentation references deprecated features; specifics are noted on others, indicating that they should no longer be used. 

The documentation is current; the associated code was pushed on March 27, 2024 (according to King). Industry experts like Fishkin and King's ongoing evaluation and analysis of the leaked features should provide the SEO community with a sense of confidence and assurance.

Google uses an attribute called siteAuthority.

Over the years, Google representatives like John Mueller and Gary Illyes have adamantly stated that Google does not consider Domain Authority metrics for ranking. However, King stumbled upon a feature in the documents labeled “siteAuthority.” This attribute, if it indeed influences ranking, could significantly alter SEO strategies. While the specifics of this feature and its usage remain a mystery, its mere existence raises intriguing questions and potential concerns for the SEO community. 

Google measures click data.

King found that Navboost has a specific module entirely focused on click signals. Both Fishkin and King discovered several modules that reference click-related features, including:

  • goodClicks
  • badClicks 
  • lasLongestClicks
  • unsquashedImpressions
  • squashedImpressions
  • squashedClicks 
  • unsquashedClicks
  • Unicorn clicks

King states: 

“The evidence is fairly definitive, there can be little doubt that Google uses clicks and post-click behavior as part of its ranking algorithms.”

Fishkin’s article states that Google uses click data to determine how to rank links. His source states:

“Google has three buckets/tiers for classifying their link indexes (low, medium, high quality). Click data is used to determine which link graph index tier a document belongs to. See SourceType here, and TotalClicks here.”

Google uses data from Chrome.

The documents show that Google uses data from its Chrome browser for search ranking. One module related to page quality score has an attribute called chromeInTotal, which offers a site-level measure of Chrome views. King also states that another module associated with the generation of sitelinks has a Chrome attribute. 

Fishkin states:

“The API documents suggest Google calculates several types of metrics that can be called using Chrome views related to both individual pages and entire domains… My read is that Google likely uses the number of clicks on pages in Chrome browsers and uses that to determine the most popular/important URLs on a site, which go into the calculation of which to include in the sitelinks feature.” 

If this use of 'Chrome views' data indeed influences ranking, it could significantly alter SEO strategies. It also raises questions about user privacy and the influence of browser choice on search results.

Google whitelists particular domains.

Fishkin found several references to flas for “isCovidLocalAuthority” and “isElectionAuthority” that suggest Google is whitelisting domains appropriate to show for controversial queries. In this context, 'whitelisting' refers to the practice of allowing certain domains to appear in search results for specific queries, even if they don't meet all the usual ranking criteria. This practice can help dispel propaganda from search results during elections or other national or worldwide events. 

Fishkin further states:

“Google would almost certainly be one of the first places people turned to for information about this event, and if their search engine returned propaganda websites that inaccurately portrayed the election evidence, that could directly lead to more contention, violence, or even the end of US democracy. Those of us who want free and fair elections to continue should be very grateful Google’s engineers are employing whitelists in this case.”

Google uses human evaluator feedback.

Google uses elements from quality raters in the search systems. Fishkin found attributes related to EWOK, a quality rating platform used by the search engine. In this context, 'EWOK' is a quality rating platform that Google uses to assess the quality and relevance of search results. Fishkin is still determining how influential these rater-based signals are; however, he pointed out that these signals are directly involved in the search systems rather than experimental ones. 


Twiddlers are re-ranking functions that run after the primary search algorithm. They operate like filters that adjust what is presented before it goes to the user. King states:

“Twiddlers can adjust the information retrieval score of a document or change the ranking of a document… Twiddlers can offer category constraints, meaning diversity can be promoted by specifically limiting the type of results. For instance the author may decide to only allow 3 blog posts in a given SERP. This can clarify when ranking is a lost cause based on your page format.”

Here are the takeaways from King’s and Fishkin’s articles:

1. Panda was more straightforward than we thought. King states that the algorithm update was a scoring modifier based on signals related to user behavior and external links. He states:

“The bottom line here is that you need to drive more successful clicks using a broader set of queries and earn more link diversity if you want to continue to rank.”

2. Brand matters. Fishkin states that SEO is a “big brand, popular domain’s game.” Small and medium businesses must establish credibility and a strong reputation before expecting a return from SEO. Fishkin states:

“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.’”

3. Authorship continues to be measured. King notes that Google stores information about authorship and determines if an entity on the page is also the page's author.

4. Links are still important. Google’s indexing is divided into tiers, with the highest tier holding the most valuable links. This supports the idea that getting backlinks from high-authority sites is valuable and yields better ranking results. Additionally, Google measures the link velocity of spam, which can quickly identify when a site is spamming. 

5. Content freshness is essential. In this context, 'content freshness' refers to how recently a page's content has been updated or changed. Google measures several attributes relating to freshness, inferring that specifying date with structured data and keeping it consistent across all pages is critical. This suggests that regularly updating and refreshing your website's content can help maintain high rankings in Google's search results. 


Recently, the source of the documents was revealed. Erfan Azimi posted this video claiming responsibility for sharing the documents with Fishkin. Azimi is the CEO and director of SEO for EA Eagle Digital and is not employed by Google. 

Kaitie Frank

Kaitie is a copywriter and content writer for Page One Power who specializes in SEO-optimized content. She has written for various niches and prides herself in knowing random tidbits of information. In addition to putting words to paper, she indulges in physical fitness and telling her cat why he is, in fact, a good boy.