June 16, 2024

Image for article titled Google says it's not lying about its Search algorithm

Photo: Didem Mente/Anadolu Agency (Getty Images)

A massive leak from Google’s Search division has raised concerns that the company is lying about how its algorithm works — which Google is vehemently denying.

This week, an automated bot posted 2,500 pages of documents from inside Google’s Search division on the developer platform GitHub. SEO experts say the documents, which detail the data Google collects from websites and users, suggest that Google may be using information such as clicks and Chrome data to rank websites, contradicting Google’s public statements about how its rankings work. However, experts emphasized that the documents don’t conclusively show how Google is using that information to score and rank Search results, if at all.

A company spokesperson stressed that gray area to Quartz over email without clarifying which data it collects for Google Search. But they told Quartz that Google is committed to providing accurate information, adding that the details in the documents aren’t “remotely comprehensive, fully relevant, or up-to-date.”

“Google’s public statements probably aren’t intentional efforts to lie, but rather to deceive potential spammers…” said SEO expert Rand Fishkin, one of the first to review the documents and share his findings online. Google told Quartz that, like Fishkin suspected, it does not confirm or deny “sensitive” information about Search in order to prevent “bad actors and spammers” looking to manipulate results.

Still, Fishkin and other experts feel Google is too secretive about how Search works. The most powerful search engine in the world, Google’s ranking system determines which information reaches the masses and which online businesses succeed or fail.

“Google search is one of the most secretive, closely-guarded black boxes in the world,” Fishkin wrote, adding in a separate post, “For decades, I loudly proclaimed that Google, the marketing industry, and the web as a whole would be a better place if the search giant was transparent with how they worked.”

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