Google Accused of Manipulating Search Results

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.30 - 2024 10:57 AM CET

Photo: PixieMe /
Photo: PixieMe /
Google has been accused of manipulating search results.

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A recently leaked 2,500-page document has rocked the SEO world, revealing how Google's search algorithms may have misled users by manipulating search results.

The document, shared anonymously with Rand Fishkin of analytics firm Sparktoro and later with Mike King of SEO firm IPullRank, provides deep insights into the inner workings of Google's ranking system.

Key Findings

The leaked document indicates that Google's algorithm considers multiple factors when ranking pages, challenging long-held beliefs within the SEO community. While backlinks continue to play an important role, the emphasis is also placed on the relevance and quality of the content and user experience.

User engagement metrics, such as time spent on the page and interactions, have become increasingly important.

Although this is not entirely new information, the document offers a detailed explanation of how these factors are weighted.

Accusations of Misleading Practices

Both King and the anonymous source accuse Google of misleading the public about how its ranking algorithms function.

This accusation is serious, as the SEO industry relies on accurate knowledge of ranking factors to optimize websites effectively.

One notable example concerns the Chrome browser.

The documents reveal that Google created Chrome primarily to gather clickstream data, aggregating information about which websites users visit. Contrary to Google's previous claims, this clickstream data is included in the algorithm used to rank search results.

According to the document, presentations of search results incorporate data from Chrome browsers worldwide. This contradicts Google's earlier statements that Chrome data is not part of the ranking algorithm, leading Fishkin and King to believe that Google has been providing misleading information about its practices.

Whitelists and Special Treatment

The documents also disclose that Google maintains internal "whitelists" of pages approved for information related to COVID-19 and democratic elections. Certain sites were designated as authoritative sources for local COVID-19 information and election-related actions in various countries.

While Fishkin praises Google for this approach, he acknowledges that it could fuel conspiracy theories and criticisms from politicians who feel underrepresented online.

The revelations about how Google manipulates search results will undoubtedly impact the SEO industry.

Firms may need to reassess their strategies in light of the new information, and further criticism of Google's dominance over the internet is likely.

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