Google Leak: 71 News SEO Ranking Factors Revealed & Impact on News Publishers


Google's accidental leak of its search algorithm documentation is a bombshell for the news industry. While Google - and some SEOs - downplays the significance, this unprecedented reveal gives us a rare peek into the inner workings of how news content gets ranked.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down the key takeaways from the leak, focusing on the 71 ranking factors that directly impact news publishers. But more than that, we'll give you actionable strategies to not just survive, but thrive, in this new SEO landscape. 


In this article we will discuss


Google Leak Extensive Summary

Internal documentation for Google's deprecated Document AI Warehouse was accidentally published and subsequently leaked to Rand Fishkin and Mike King. This leak reveals details about various Google algorithms and data storage mechanisms but lacks information on specific scoring functions.

Background (Links in Additional Sources at the end of the article):

  • The leak reveals details about various Google algorithms and data storage mechanisms but lacks information on specific scoring functions.
  • Internal documentation for Google’s deprecated Document AI Warehouse was accidentally published and subsequently leaked to Rand Fishkin and Mike King.
  • Dan Petrovic discovered the documents approximately a month before the wider leak and disclosed them to Google, receiving a bounty reward for his actions.

Google’s Conflicting Information/Incomplete Statements:

  • The documentation contradicts several public statements made by Google representatives about their algorithms.
  • Notably, Google’s claim that they do not use "domain authority" is refuted by the documentation, which shows the existence of a feature called "siteAuthority."

Ranking Systems:

  • Google’s ranking systems are complex, with over 14,000 attributes and 2,596 modules described in the API documentation including:
    • Clicks and User Behavior: "NavBoost" system heavily relies on click data, long clicks, and user behavior from Chrome. Google may claim that the direct impact on rankings is nuanced and complex.
    • Domain and Page Authority: Google does track these, despite previous denials. Google uses internal metrics like "siteAuthority," it's not the same as the "Domain Authority" metric used by third-party SEO tools.
    • Content Freshness and Dates: Freshness and accurate date information are crucial.
    • Author Information: Google explicitly tracks and stores author data.
    • Site Embeddings: Google uses semantic embeddings to measure page and site relevance.
    • Other Factors: Sandbox for new sites, link spam velocity, video-focused site treatment, YMYL scoring, etc.
  • Systems like NavBoost use click data to adjust rankings, despite Google's public denials.

Key Features and Signals:

  • The documentation reveals features such as "siteAuthority," "NavBoost," and the use of user behavior metrics like click signals.
  • Important elements like page freshness, content originality, and links are heavily scrutinized by the algorithm.

Key revelations:

  • Clicks, CTR, dwell time used as ranking signals via NavBoost & other systems, contrary to Google's past denials
  • Chrome browser data influences rankings
  • Whitelists for sensitive topics like elections, COVID, travel
  • Human rater data incorporated
  • Links weighted by source page traffic
  • Brand signals are important

Demotions and Penalties:

  • Various demotion signals include anchor mismatch, SERP demotion, navigation issues, and exact match domain demotions.

Implications for SEOs:

  • The leak provides actionable insights for SEOs, reinforcing the importance of creating high-quality content, earning diverse links, and maintaining relevance.
    • SEOs are encouraged to experiment and adapt based on these newfound understandings.
    • Optimize for engagement metrics, Rethink link building, Increased focus on brand, Adapt to vertical ranking factors
    • SEOs should aim for - Brand Building: Building a strong, recognizable brand is more critical than ever. - Quality Content: Focus on high-quality, user-centric content and promoting it effectively. - Link Building: Links still matter, but prioritize quality and relevance over quantity. High-tier, fresh pages have more value. - Technical SEO: Ensure fast page loads, intuitive navigation, and mobile-friendliness

Ethical Concerns:

  • Google's use of whitelists for sensitive topics like elections and health raises concerns about potential bias and manipulation of search results.

Major caveats:

  • It's important to note that the leak doesn't definitively reveal everything about Google's algorithm:
    • Active vs. Tested: It's hard to say which systems and features are actively used versus those that are simply being tested.
    • Weighting: The leak doesn't clarify how much weight each signal carries in the overall ranking process.



71 News SEO Ranking Factors according to the leaked Google document:

Based on the information provided in the Google Leak document, here are the key attributes that impact news, along with their impact and how to leverage them for improved search visibility:

1. News Filtering and Identification

  • Impact: These attributes help in filtering and identifying news content, ensuring relevant news is displayed.
  • Attributes: 
    • newsFilter, podcastFilter: Helps in filtering and categorizing news content, ensuring relevant news is displayed.
    • state (NewsFilter): Aids in categorizing and filtering news content.
    • newsSource: Identifies and prioritizes trusted news sources, influencing the credibility and ranking of news content.
    • newsNarRow: Indirectly impacts ranking by giving weight to news relevance and context.
    • newsNarRowContainer: Directly impacts ranking in news-related searches by providing structure and context to news content.
    • ClusterId: Directly impacts search ranking by grouping similar articles.
    • ClusterSize: Determines how many articles from the same cluster can be shown.
    • ClusterTimeStamp: Manages the lifecycle of clusters and impacts freshness.
    • indexingInstantClusterScorerArticle: Groups and prioritizes relevant articles.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure your content is properly categorized and labeled to be accurately filtered and identified by Google's algorithms.
    • Incorporate clear geographic references (city, state, region) early in your news articles, especially within the title and first few paragraphs. This helps Google understand the local relevance of your content and can boost visibility in location-based searches.


2. Content Type and Topics

  • Impact: Helps Google understand the type and topic of news content, affecting visibility in topic-specific searches.
  • Attributes:
    • newsTopic: Helps Google understand the specific topics covered in the news content, affecting visibility in topic-specific searches.
    • newsContentType: Defines the type of news content, helping in categorizing and displaying relevant content to users.
    • newsNewromanIndexingNewRomanSignal: Indirectly impacts ranking through visual presentation.
    • qualityTangramInformationTypes: Categorizes content type for tailored search results.
  • Leverage:
    • Clearly define the type and topic of your news content to enhance discoverability for relevant queries.
    • Incorporate Relevant Topics and Entities: While defining your content type, strategically weave in key topics and related entities to enhance discoverability and relevance in Google's topic-specific searches.


3. Metadata and Annotations

  • Impact: Metadata helps in accurately indexing and ranking content based on specific details such as date and source.
  • Attributes
    • newspaperDate: Currently has no direct impact on ranking but provides context about the publication date.
    • newspaperName: Allows users to filter or prioritize results from specific newspapers, indirectly affecting ranking.
    • newspaperUrl: No direct impact but provides the source URL for reference.
    • newsCorpusLeafPageAnnotation: Indirectly impacts search ranking by improving content classification.
    • newsAnnotationsContentAnnotations: Directly impacts ranking by providing detailed content annotations.
    • newsCorpusNewsCorpusStatusAnnotation: Directly impacts ranking by evaluating the status of news content.
    • newsCorpusNewsCorpusRootAnnotation: Impacts relevance for time-sensitive queries.
    • freshboxFreshboxArticleAnnotation: Prioritizes fresh news articles.
  • Leverage: Provide detailed and accurate metadata for all news articles to improve indexing and relevance.


4. Trust and Authority Signals

  • Impact: Enhances the perceived trustworthiness and authority of the news source, impacting ranking positively.
  • Attributes
    • newsCorpusNewsCorpusAnnotation: Directly impacts ranking in news-related searches by enhancing content authority.
    • newsCorpusHubPageAnnotations: Indirectly impacts ranking by identifying authoritative content.
    • narrativeNewsProviderType: Prioritizes authoritative news providers, affecting the ranking.
    • newsCorpusNewsinessAnnotation: Directly impacts news-related search ranking by assessing the newsworthiness.
    • newsSource: Identifies and prioritizes trusted news sources, influencing the credibility and ranking of news content. Articles from well-established and trusted sources rank higher.
    • newsCorpusNewsAggregateSignal: Directly impacts ranking by aggregating signals from various news sources to assess overall authority.
    • publishTimeSeconds: Influences ranking for time-sensitive news.
    • newsCorpusStoryMetadata: Identifies similar articles and consolidates ranking signals.
    • newsCorpusWebMetadata: Assesses reputation and authority of the news source.
    • newsCorpusWebSignal: Considers overall reputation and authority.
    • language: Matches content with users' language preferences.
  • Leverage:
    • Build a strong reputation as a reliable news provider through consistent, high-quality reporting.
    • Prioritize Speed and Accuracy: The Google leak emphasizes the importance of being first to break a story, but accuracy is equally crucial. Publish news swiftly, but ensure it's thoroughly vetted and update promptly as new information emerges.


5. User Interaction and Engagement

  • Impact: These attributes track user interaction with news videos, influencing ranking based on engagement.
  • Attributes
    • newsVideosNewsVideoAnnotationSignals: Directly impacts video search ranking by understanding user interactions.
    • newsNewsContentSignals: Directly impacts news search ranking by assessing user engagement with news content.
    • newsVideosNewsAnchorSourceInfo: Considers credibility and authority of news video sources.
  • Leverage:
    • Create engaging video content and optimize it for user interaction to boost ranking.
    • Optimize your news headlines for both search engines and user engagement. A low click-through rate (CTR) can significantly reduce the visibility of your articles in search results, so make those headlines count!


6. Geo-Targeting and Localization

  • Impact: Tailors news content to specific geographic locations, impacting local search results.
  • Attributes
    • newsNarRowContainer: Indirectly impacts ranking by tailoring content to specific geographic locations, enhancing local search results.
    • language: Matches content with users' language preferences.
  • Leverage: Localize your news content to target specific regions, using local keywords and addressing local issues


7. Quality and Relevance

  • Impact: Helps in ranking highly cited and current news content higher.
  • Attributes
    • indexingInstantNewsHighlyCitedDocumentSignal: Directly impacts ranking by prioritizing highly cited content.
    • newsCorpusNewsCorpusStatusAnnotation: Directly impacts ranking in news-related searches by evaluating content status and relevance.
    • ymylNewsScore: Directly impacts ranking by evaluating the quality of news content, especially in the "Your Money or Your Life" (YMYL) category.
    • ymylNewsV2Score: Directly impacts ranking by providing a refined quality assessment of YMYL news content.
    • articleScoreV2: Assesses quality of news and informational content.
    • articleScore: Evaluates quality for news-related or informational queries.
    • newsNewsClassifications: Prioritizes timely and relevant news content.
    • qualityRealtimeBoostRealtimeBoostEvent: Prioritizes trending news content for timely queries.
    • newsNarIndexingMetadata: Provides metadata for news indexing.
    • indexingInstantNewsImagesInfo: Enhances visibility and ranking of news images.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure your content is timely, relevant, and frequently cited by other trusted sources.
    • Focus on producing high-quality, accurate, and trustworthy news content.
    • Regularly review and improve content quality based on feedback and analytics.


8. Duplicate Content Detection

  • Impact: Identifies and filters out duplicate content to maintain quality and uniqueness.
  • Attributes
    • newsExtractionNewsPbeAnnotations: Directly impacts ranking by filtering duplicate content, ensuring content uniqueness.
    • newsNewsArticleChecksum: Ensures duplicate articles are not shown.
  • Leverage: Regularly audit your content for duplicates and ensure each piece of content is unique.


9. Specialized News Attributes

  • Impact: These attributes are used for specialized news-related annotations and signals.
  • Attributes:
    • newsCorpusHubPageAnnotations: Directly impacts ranking by identifying and prioritizing hub pages for news content.
    • newsCorpusNewsinessAnnotation: Directly impacts ranking by assessing the newsworthiness.
    • newsNarRow: Indirectly impacts ranking by evaluating the contextual relevance.
    • newsNarRowContainer: Directly impacts ranking by providing structural context.
    • newsCorpusLeafPageAnnotation: Indirectly impacts ranking by improving classification.
    • newsCorpusNewsCorpusAnnotation: Directly impacts ranking by enhancing content authority.
    • newsVideosNewsVideoAnnotationSignals: Directly impacts video search ranking by understanding user interactions with news videos.
    • newsNarIndexingMetadata: Directly impacts ranking by providing metadata for news indexing.
    • newsNewsArticleChecksum: Directly impacts ranking by ensuring the integrity and uniqueness of news articles.
    • researchStructuredDataNewsEmbeddingAnnotations: Indirectly impacts ranking by enhancing the semantic understanding of news content.
    • newsRobotsInfo: Directly impacts ranking by following the instructions given in robots.txt for news content.
    • newscluster: Directly impacts ranking by organizing related news articles into clusters.
    • extendedNewsPreviewsDomain: Directly impacts visibility by enhancing the presentation of news previews in search results.
    • indexingInstantNewsHighlyCitedDocumentSignal: Prioritizes highly cited and authoritative news sources.
    • indexingInstantNewsImagesInfo: Enhances ranking of news images.
  • Leverage:
    • Understand and incorporate these specialized attributes into your content strategy to enhance visibility and ranking in specific news contexts.
    • Identify key topics or themes within your news coverage and create comprehensive "hub pages" that consolidate relevant articles, providing a central resource for readers and signaling authority to Google.
    • Ensure your articles demonstrate newsworthiness by focusing on timely, relevant, and impactful events. Incorporate elements like breaking news updates, exclusives, and in-depth analysis
    • Craft articles that provide rich context by linking to related news stories, background information, and relevant entities.
    • If you produce news videos, optimize them with relevant titles, descriptions, and tags to improve their visibility in video search results
    • Provide comprehensive metadata for your news articles, including accurate publication dates, author information, and structured data markup, to enhance indexing and classification
    • Incorporate structured data markup, especially for news articles, to enhance Google's semantic understanding of your content and improve its relevance in search results
    • Maintain a well-structured robots.txt file to guide search engine crawlers and ensure proper indexing of your news content.
    • Organize related news articles into clusters or series to enhance their visibility and provide a comprehensive overview of a topic
    • Optimize your articles for extended news previews in search results by providing clear headlines, engaging summaries, and high-quality images
    • Encourage other reputable news sources to cite your articles to signal your authority and credibility to Google.
    • Optimize news images with descriptive file names, alt text, and captions to improve their visibility in image search results


Links-Related Attributes

The leak also details attributes related to internal linking, outbound link quality, entity linking, and app/device linking.

1. Internal Linking

  • Attributes: linkedPerson, linkedDeviceId, shouldBeLinked
  • Impact: While not directly a ranking factor, strong internal linking is crucial for website structure and navigation. It enhances user experience by making it easier for readers to discover related content on your site.
  • Leverage:
    • Use clear, descriptive anchor texts for internal links. Ensure all important pages are easily accessible through internal links.

2. Outbound Link Quality and Trust

  • Attributes: outlinkScore, outlinkDomainRelationship
  • Impact: These attributes assess the quality and relevance of outbound links, influencing the trustworthiness and authority of the linking page. Low-quality outbound links can harm your page's trustworthiness.
  • Leverage:
    • Link to high-quality, relevant external sites to enhance your page's authority and trustworthiness. Avoid linking to low-quality or spammy sites.
    • Regularly audit your outbound links to ensure they point to reputable and relevant sources. Avoid excessive linking to low-quality or unrelated sites.

3. Entity Linking

  • Attributes: linkInfo, isBoostedPrimaryWeightLink
  • Impact: Helps Google understand the relationships between different entities, and the relationships and context between different pieces of content impacting the context and relevance of the content. 
  • Leverage:
    • Use clear and accurate links to relevant entities to improve the contextual relevance and depth of your content.
    • Leverage: Use entity linking to connect your content with relevant, authoritative entities. This can include linking to authoritative sources, related articles, or recognized entities within your content.

4. App Store and Device Linking

  • Attributes: appStoreLink, categoryId, paymentsEnabled, linkedUsers
  • Impact: These attributes signal app ranking and device-related settings, which may indirectly affect app visibility. Improves app visibility and categorization in app stores, which can indirectly affect search rankings by increasing app downloads and user engagement.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure your app and device-related content is well-optimized and properly categorized to improve discoverability in app stores.
    • Optimize your app store listings with relevant keywords and categories. Ensure all device-related content is properly linked and categorized.


Entity and Topic-Related Attributes

These attributes focus on how Google understands the meaning and context of your content: Here are the entity and topic-related attributes grouped by their functionality, along with their impact on search ranking and how to leverage them:

1. Content Relevance and Topic Modeling

  • Attributes: salientTerms, scholarInfo, topEntity, topicPropertyName
  • Impact: These attributes help enhance the relevance of your content by ensuring it addresses key topics and entities that users are searching for. Improves search visibility by aligning content with user intent.
  • Leverage:
    • Optimize content by including relevant keywords, topics, and entities naturally within your content. 
    • Use structured data and schema markup to highlight important topics.

2. Semantic Understanding and Entity Recognition

  • Attributes: webrefEntity, equivalentEntityId, sourceEntityIndex
  • Impact: Improves the search engine's ability to understand the context and meaning of your content, leading to better indexing and relevance in search results.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure accurate entity recognition by using clear and consistent terminology. Link to authoritative sources to validate entity information.
    • Use structured data and schema markup to highlight important entities.
    • Ensure your content is clear and well-organized to facilitate entity recognition.

3. Entity Ranking and Disambiguation

  • Attributes: entityScores, specialEntityType, sourceEntityIndex
  • Impact: Provides additional scores and classifications for entities, helping disambiguate and rank them appropriately in search results.
  • Leverage:
    • Use precise language and context to disambiguate entities.
    • Enhance entity information with detailed descriptions and links to authoritative sources.
    • Use internal links to related content to help clarify and disambiguate entities.

4. Entity Relevance and Relationships

  • Attributes: kgEntityConfidence, surfaceIdentity, sensitivityMode, attentionalEntity
  • Impact: Assists in identifying the relevance and relationships between entities, indirectly influencing search rankings by providing contextual information.
  • Leverage:
    • Create content that clearly defines and explains the relationships between entities.
    • Use internal linking to connect related content pieces.


Site Architecture and Performance-Related Attributes

Google also considers your site's technical aspects. Here are the site architecture, links, navigation, design, UX, speed, and related attributes grouped by their functionality, along with their impact on search ranking and how to leverage them:

1. Mobile and Device UX

  • Attributes: mobileOwnerId, deviceUxMode, carUxRestrictions, castAssistantSettingLinkingResult, deviceMode...
  • Impact: These attributes generally have no direct impact on web search ranking but are relevant for mobile and device-specific UX. Enhances user experience on mobile devices and other platforms, indirectly improving search rankings by increasing user engagement and reducing bounce rates.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
    • Implement a responsive design that adapts to various screen sizes and user modes.
    • Optimize load times and usability for mobile users.

2. Internal and External Linking

  • Attributes: linkedPerson, linkInfo, isBoostedPrimaryWeightLink, appStoreLink, categoryId, etc.
  • Impact: Helps Google understand the relationships between entities and the relevance of content, impacting search ranking through improved link structure.
  • Leverage:
    • Use clear, relevant internal and external links to improve site navigation and SEO.
    • Ensure all links point to high-quality, authoritative sources.
    • Use descriptive anchor texts and ensure links are relevant and add value to the content.
    • Regularly audit links to ensure they are functioning and point to high-quality sources.

3. Navigation and Design

  • Attributes: deviceUxMode, carUxRestrictions
  • Impact: Enhances user experience by adapting navigation and design elements to different devices and user modes, indirectly influencing search ranking through improved user engagement.
  • Leverage:
    • Implement responsive design practices and optimize navigation for different devices and user scenarios to improve user experience and engagement.
    • Optimize site navigation to be intuitive and user-friendly. Ensure the design is consistent and visually appealing across all devices.

4. Site Speed and Performance

  • Attributes: durationMs, instances, etc.
  • Impact: These attributes help measure and improve site speed and performance, which are critical factors in search ranking.
  • Leverage:
    • Optimize your website for speed by minimizing load times, compressing images, and using efficient coding practices.
    • Monitor and improve site performance regularly.
    • Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to monitor and improve site speed.
    • Optimize images, leverage browser caching, and minimize JavaScript to enhance performance.

5. App and Video Indexing

  • Attributes: numDownloads, videoTimingData
  • Impact: Indicates the popularity of apps and helps in indexing video content, indirectly affecting search ranking through enhanced user engagement and content discoverability.
  • Leverage:
    • Optimize app listings with relevant keywords, descriptions, and metadata.
    • Use structured data to improve video indexing and make content more discoverable.


User Behavior and Click-Related Attributes

Google tracks how users interact with your content. Here are the user behavior, clicks, CTR, and related attributes grouped by their functionality, along with their impact on search ranking and how to leverage them:

1. Content Removal and User Restrictions

  • Attributes: adminVerdict, userVerdict, context, userRestriction
  • Impact: These attributes specify content takedowns and user restrictions, directly affecting the visibility and quality of content. It Directly impacts search quality by removing harmful or inappropriate content. User restrictions ensure content visibility is appropriate for different audiences.
  • Leverage:
    • Ensure compliance with content guidelines to avoid takedowns.
    • Implement user restrictions appropriately to maintain content quality.

2. User Communication and Notifications

  • Attributes: channelAbuseiamUserNotification
  • Impact: Configures user notifications, indirectly impacting search ranking by influencing user engagement and satisfaction.
  • Leverage:
    • Implement effective user notification strategies to keep your audience informed about important updates, new content, or changes.
    • Personalized notifications can enhance user engagement.

3. User Engagement and Clicks

  • Attributes: totalClicks, chromeInTotal
  • Impact: Tracks website traffic and user clicks, indirectly impacting search ranking by providing insights into user engagement and behavior.
  • Leverage:
    • Monitor and analyze user engagement metrics to identify popular content and optimize underperforming pages.
    • Improve user experience to increase clicks and engagement.
    • Use clear calls to action and optimize content for user experience to increase engagement metrics.

4. Co-Occurrence and Co-Clicks

  • Attributes: coClicks, coClickTarget
  • Impact: Tracks co-clicks from related searches, indirectly influencing search ranking by associating your content with other relevant searches.
  • Leverage:
    • Develop content around related topics (content clusters) to increase the likelihood of co-clicks.
    • Ensure content is interlinked to encourage related searches.

5. Sitelink Optimization

  • Attributes: navboostScore, navmenuScore, titleScore, longClick
  • Impact: Internal scoring signals that might affect the appearance and ranking of sitelinks.
  • Leverage:
    • Optimize navigation menus and titles to enhance sitelink appearance and improve user interaction.
    • Use clear and descriptive titles for navigation menus and important pages.


10 Actionable Steps for News Publishers Leveraging Leaked Google Algorithm Insights to Boost Rankings and Build Authority

The leak of Google's internal algorithm documentation provides critical insights that can significantly impact SEO strategies for news publishers. Here’s a detailed analysis of the impact and actionable steps for news publishers:

  1. Focus on original, timely content (Content Freshness and Originality): The leaked documents highlight the importance of freshness and originality.
    • News publishers should strive to
      • break stories first and provide unique angles on current events. Or Publish breaking news quickly and update existing articles with new information as it becomes available.
      • Implement a strategy for regularly updating evergreen content to keep it fresh. This includes updating old articles with new information
      • Monitor trends and create new content around trending topics.
      • Use structured data to indicate publication and last updated dates.
      • Submit XML sitemaps regularly to ensure Google indexes your latest content promptly.
  2. Prioritize user engagement (User Behavior Metrics): The leak indicates that user engagement metrics like click-through rates, time on page, long clicks, and bounce rates may directly influence rankings.
    • News publishers should focus on
      • crafting compelling headlines & meta descriptions to entice clicks,
      • providing interactive content
      • ensuring fast page load times,
      • providing clear calls to action
      • providing highly relevant content (top/related/recent articles) to generate second click and keep readers engaged
      • Focusing on readability and user experience to increase dwell time and reduce bounce rate
      • Optimizing internal linking to guide readers to more articles
      • Promoting content on social media and other channels to drive traffic and engagement
  3. Optimize for author expertise (Authority and Trustworthiness): The documents mention that author information is captured and processed, particularly for news articles.
    • News publishers should:
      • ensure articles have clear author bylines
      • work to build up the reputations and expertise of their journalists
      • Optimize author pages with detailed bios, credentials and links to their other work may help establish authority
      • Feature content from well-known and credible authors on Homepage
  4. Build Brand trust and credibility: Although E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) isn't explicitly mentioned as a ranking factor, the leak suggests that Google maintains whitelists for sensitive topics.
    • News publishers must continually work to:
      • bolster their credibility through accurate, and well-sourced reporting.
      • Include their correction policies, managing staff, editorial standards, contact us, and about us on site with clear links in footer.
      • Implement strong moderation practices to quickly identify and remove harmful content, thereby maintaining a clean and safe platform.
  5. Invest in brand building: Brand-related signals appear to play a role in rankings, according to the leak. Well-established news brands may have an inherent advantage.
    • Publishers should work on:
      • increasing brand awareness through marketing efforts, and building a loyal reader base.
      • Secure mentions and links from authoritative sources
      • Encourage social media sharing and engagement
  6. Monitor click data: If the leak is accurate, click data may be used to assess the relevance and authority of individual pages.
    • News publishers should closely monitor:
      • click-through rates (CTR) from search results
      • Bounce Rate
      • Dwell time or Article Scroll Depth
  7. Adapt to vertical-specific factors: The documents suggest that ranking factors may vary by vertical, with potential customizations for news-related queries.
    • Publishers should stay attuned to any news-specific SEO best practices that emerge and adapt accordingly.
  8. Avoid Demotion Pitfalls: Various demotion signals, such as anchor mismatch and SERP demotions, can negatively impact rankings.
    • Ensure all links are relevant and contextually appropriate
    • Avoid practices that could lead to SERP demotions, such as manipulative linking or poor navigation.
  9. Monitor Link Quality and Diversity: Links remain a critical factor, with a focus on quality and diversity. News publishers should aim to earn diverse and authoritative links from reputable sources.
    • Regularly audit the link profile to ensure quality and relevance
    • Focus on earning backlinks from reputable sources and avoid low-quality link schemes.
  10. Improve Technical SEO Factors: Factors like indexing tier and proper content structuring are highlighted.
    • Ensuring technical SEO best practices, such as proper indexing, mobile optimization, and fast loading times.
    • Avoid excessive keyword stuffing and maintain clean URL structures. It is getting harder and harder for emerging and small news sites:


Challenges for Emerging News Sites

The leak highlights some potential challenges for smaller or newer news outlets. If user engagement metrics like clicks and dwell time become even more crucial, established news brands with large audiences may have an advantage. Smaller or newer publishers might struggle to compete for visibility.

  • Increased Competition: Established brands with high user engagement may have an edge if click-based metrics gain prominence.
  • Brand Building: The emphasis on brand recognition and authority could make it harder for emerging news outlets to gain traction in search results.
  • YMYL Scrutiny: As news falls under the Your Money Your Life (YMYL) category, Google's increased scrutiny on these topics could lead to stricter evaluation and potential demotions if content doesn't meet their quality standards.

Actionable Tips for Smaller News Sites

  • Niche Focus: Specialize in a specific news niche to establish expertise and target a dedicated audience.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Prioritize creating in-depth, original reporting rather than chasing every breaking story.
  • Community Building: Engage with your audience through social media, newsletters, and comments to foster loyalty and drive repeat visits.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with other reputable organizations to co-create content and expand your reach.


Additional Resources & Info:


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