back to article Google’s in-house docs about search ranking leak online, sparking SEO frenzy

A trove of documents that appear to describe how Google ranks search results has appeared online, likely as the result of accidental publication by an in-house bot. The leaked documentation describes an old version of Google's Content Warehouse API and provides a glimpse of Google Search’s inner workings. The material appears …

  1. sarusa Silver badge
    Devil

    Who would have thought!?1

    I don't think it should surprise anyone that Google lies their ass off about how their search works.

    Mostly just to keep the spammers guessing, but especially the last couple years with it all going to shite and Google embracing the spammers as being more ads to serve up.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Who would have thought!?1

      Google.

      Lying, cheating bastards.

      'Nuff said.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Who would have thought!?1

      But maybe these docs are a trick, a trap?

  2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Do no..............

    ...........something

    1. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Do no..............

      I think they've been modelling themselves more on Galaxy Quest in recent times...

      "Never give up (profit), never surrender (to truth)."

      Or something like that.

      1. PM.

        Re: Do no..............

        Do know evil

  3. DS999 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If you didn't think Google search results could get worse

    Just wait until the SEOs play with this treasure trove and figure out by trial and error which of those factors are highly rated. Pretty soon an "I'm feeling lucky" button that gives you a random page out of Google's entire cache might give you better results than Google does.

    And that's before it integrates AI and directs you to pages with quality results like "eat a small rock daily to improve digestion" lol

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you didn't think Google search results could get worse

      Coming soon, lots of sites with search results like:

      "Top 10 small rocks to consume for better health (2024)".

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: If you didn't think Google search results could get worse

      I was going to say, judging by Google's search results at the moment it looks like SEOs have had access to a real-time feed of Google's top secret documents for the best part of the past decade.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: eat rocks

      Don't some birds need to eat gravel to aid digestion?

      I think pied wagtails live on it.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: eat rocks

        So you're saying Google's AI is for the birds?

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: eat rocks

        Lots of birds do, if they have hard to digest food e.g. hard seeds, as grit helps grind the food down..

        e.g. bearded tit (spoiler, not a tit but a parrotbill) is a difficult bird to see in the UK, and it changes diet over a year, in "Summer" months it feeds on insects, but over "Winter", where few UK insects around it switches to seed and needs grit in its diet over winter to help digest the seeds, and at nature reserves (the few where it can be found) grit tends to be put out on tables so the birds have easy access & also gives wildlife fans a good chance of seeing a bird (visiting grit table) that is otherwise difficult to spot as usually hidden away in vegetation.

    4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: If you didn't think Google search results could get worse

      That's pretty much what's already happening, it seems. Google search results get less and less useful as time marches on.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spectacular fail

    #1: It's found out that Google has many more specific points of reference for analyzing and ranking a Web site than they have admitted to publicly.

    #2. Google's search results have been shit for a long while and are getting shittier.

    Conclusion: You're doing it wrong.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure if this is "news"

    in the dictionary definition. It certainly doesn't really add to my knowledge. I never trusted Google from the off so don't lend much weight to their statements. Thus being ready for when there's a leak to justify my scepticism,

    And I return to a growing suggestion that I will believe (and pay for) "AI" when it delivers me a page of cruft free search results that I, not the search engine, want me to see.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Irony

    Thy name is now Google.

  7. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    How dumb do you have to be, to trust anything big corp says, and given that why would anybody believe what professional bullshitters aka CXX make in their statements.

    The truth is google search is dumb and basically a lottery and always has been that way.

  8. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    I wonder if this means google will cut down on their public repos as an unnecessary risk that ads no value (aka money) to the bottom line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Protip: Don't use your password as your posting name.

      /Staple

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Isn't it amazing

    The difference between Google's (and indeed other search engine's) idea of what I'd like to see, and what they'd like me to see?

    The whole sum of human knowledge available at your fingertips... if only you can get past the search engine gatekeepers.

  10. Bendacious Bronze badge

    Views in Chrome

    "Google uses websites viewed in Chrome as a quality signal, seen in the API as the parameter ChromeInTotal."

    The idea I immediately jumped to was that everyone's Chrome browser is reporting all page visits back to Google. I suppose the alternatives are that Google Analytics updates this number but that only works for websites that use GA. Alternatively Google search records when someone using Chrome clicks a search result that leads to a particular web page. Those two options don't make as much sense as my first thought.

    Why is ChromeInTotal being used as a measure of quality over visits by any browser? I keep coming back to the idea that it is because Google control Chrome and can know that a visit is genuine because they are recording all Chrome use.

    Is this something that everyone except me knows about and I missed the news that every page visit in Chrome is reported back to Google? I guess it wouldn't be surprising, except I would be slightly surprised that anyone would use that browser knowing that.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Views in Chrome

      I don't know the specifics. But whenever the powers that be want to make changes to the web, a Googler will set up a test and report back the percentage of broken sites (as measured by Chrome) that are likely affected.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Views in Chrome

      One possibility is that when a search result is clicked and the user then clicks on links within it these, otherwise invisible clicks, would be reported back to base to boost the relevance of these links. For someone using it for research that could be a useful thing. However, given that it could be following a user making purchases, linking to their bank or whatever this is not necessarily reassuring.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Views in Chrome

      Classic stupid positive back loop were the random walk extra clicks on a result are then amplfied.

      You can't base your system on input directly influenced by your output.

      I also object to sellers ranking and "telling" you item x is especially popular. Sales rank should only be visible to the seller.

    4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Views in Chrome

      Its probably a fake name/label, they call the item "ChromeInTotal" but it really means something else they dont want to officially document.

    5. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Views in Chrome

      Google Safe Browsing certainly does. It is the only way it could work.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "likely as the result of accidental publication by an in-house bot."

    Who needs humans to make mistakes when you can automate it?

    The Apache licence is a particularly nice touch.

  12. t245t Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Why did Google disable access to the cache

    Why did Google disable access to the cache in search results. Considering Google apparently keeps a copy of every version of every page it has ever indexed.

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Why did Google disable access to the cache

      it can be argued that the cached view actually helped end users, thus by disabling the cache, users will need to spend more time looking, which of course means more views to search and its ads.

    2. Tron Silver badge

      Re: Why did Google disable access to the cache

      Because governments don't want you to remember stuff. Campaign promises. Things they have erased from websites in their legal domain (which Google's cached copy would not be in).

      Google's cache was really useful. Most of the net is. Google's cache has gone. Most of the net will too.

      Governments got caught out with the whole internet, global village, empowered citizen thing. The Empire has been striking back for some time now. Haven't you noticed?

      Incidentally, this leak may be a good indicator of what happens when you replace carbon-based lifeforms with AI. So until the AI bubble bursts and goes the way of NFTs and the metaverse, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Average weighted font size

    I knew it! Large print web sites are the future, people!

    1. PB90210 Bronze badge

      Re: Average weighted font size

      Everyone knows shouty people are more important...

  14. newspuppy

    Getting rid of the corporate motto: "Dont't be evil" said it all

    Google used to have a motto: "Don't be evil".

    Getting rid of it in 2015 was a wakeup call. Then the motto was "Do the right thing"....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_be_evil

    Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he "wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out", adding that the slogan was "also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent"

    Now Meta and Alphabet are the biggest exploiters of all....

    Tragic.

    1. Anna Nymous
      Joke

      Re: Getting rid of the corporate motto: "Dont't be evil" said it all

      > Google used to have a motto: "Don't be evil".

      They still do, and it's only changed a single character: "Don't, be evil"

  15. Plest Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Make any difference?

    Just yet more utter bullshit pushed to the top of Google search rankings for selling shit we don't need over useful info buried on page 3 of the search, so basically nothing new to see here then.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: useful info buried on page 3

      Were you a keen buyer of the (UK) Sun before the 1990s? Before Websites.

      I don't think page 3 on Google Search is any good either.

  16. Johnb89

    Does anyone still use Google search?

    Ok, so I guess some people still need to use google for something, but seriously there are search engines that at least try to pretend the results are related to what you searched for. And that at least purport to respect your privacy.

    The argument that doing those things gave you worse results because reasons is long over now that google has their AI results.

    The good news is that the google AI results are hysterically funny, so there is that.

  17. Wolfclaw

    So what this story basically says is Google are bunch of lying scheming scumbags, who you should not do business with with major antibiotics in case they pass on their disease. Now about those regulators that obviously lied too, will they do anything or just roll over at the next wine and cheese party held bribe, sorry entertain by Megacorp or maybe seriously start thinking about breaking up the company?

  18. Don Jefe

    Lacking Context as Core Competency

    I’m not sure Google knows what the word context means. Their search engine certainly doesn’t.

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