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Google’s algorithm leak and what it means for travel SEO

If you’re in marketing, you’ve likely heard
about the recent Google API documentation leak. On May 27, SEO practitioner
Erfan Azimi
exposed more than 2,500
pages of Google’s internal API documentation, providing unprecedented insights
into how the search giant’s algorithm functions.

It’s worth noting that many details in the leak
contradict Google’s past public commentary. However, Google has confirmed that these
documents are indeed from its internal sources. The key takeaway for the travel
industry is that success in SEO requires a multifaceted approach, beyond simply
producing high-quality content.

How the leak occurred

The leaked documents were initially uploaded to
GitHub on March 27, 2024, and remained accessible until May 7, 2024. The
repository, published under the Apache 2.0 license, allowed anyone who found it
to use, modify and distribute the documents freely. This is a cached version
here: Google
API Content Warehouse

Erfan Azimi discovered and shared this treasure
trove of information, highlighting significant aspects of Google’s search

Key findings from the
Google API docs leak

Clicks & CTR matter: Click-through rates
(CTR) and user interactions play a significant role in search rankings. The
leaked documents reveal Google’s NavBoost algorithm, which utilizes clickstream
data to evaluate user engagement. This underscores the importance of engaging
content and intuitive site design to maintain user interest.

Domain age: Older domains might have an
advantage in search rankings. The documentation indicates that domain age is
indeed a factor, highlighting the value of maintaining established web
properties for long-term strategic planning.

Subdomains as separate entities: Contrary to
Google’s public stance, subdomains are treated as separate entities rather than
extensions of the main domain. This means that if your travel blog is on a
subdomain, it must independently build its authority, which impacts your overall
digital strategy.

Google Sandbox: New websites often experience
ranking challenges, colloquially known as the “Google Sandbox”
effect. The leak suggests that new sites are monitored closely before being
allowed to compete for top rankings, a process aimed at ensuring quality and

Strategic implications
for travel leaders

Focus on comprehensive quality: The overall
quality of your website affects individual page rankings. It is crucial to
maintain high standards across your entire site. Low-quality pages can diminish
the performance of high-quality content, affecting your site’s authority and
search visibility. Regular audits and updates are necessary to ensure
consistent quality.

Content update frequency: Regularly updating
content is essential to maintain relevance and visibility. The leaked documents
suggest that frequently updated sites are prioritized in Google’s indexing
process. This means that your content strategy should include a schedule for
refreshing existing content to ensure it remains current and valuable.

Strategic link building: Building a robust
backlink profile is more critical than ever. High-quality backlinks from
reputable, relevant sources significantly enhance your site’s authority.
However, the acquisition of these links should be steady to avoid penalties for
unnatural link velocity. This strategy requires a balance of quality and
consistency in your link-building efforts.

Technical SEO considerations: Technical SEO
remains a cornerstone for effective search optimization. The leaked documents
emphasize the importance of site architecture, content positioning and page
layout. Ensuring key information is prominently placed and easily accessible
can enhance both user experience and search engine indexing.

Investment in user experience: With user
engagement metrics like CTR playing a significant role in search rankings,
investing in user experience (UX) design is paramount. Your site should be
intuitive, fast and engaging to keep users interacting with your content. This
aligns with Google’s apparent focus on rewarding sites that provide a positive
user experience.

for the travel industry

Criteria for qualifying good travel sites: The
leak offers limited, yet valuable, insights specific to the travel industry. Google
uses several criteria to determine the quality of travel sites
, including the language of the travel site, aggregation of travel
information, official status of attractions or entities and the authenticity
of hotel websites. Ensuring your site meets these criteria can enhance its
ranking potential.

Details about airline data: Google
collects extensive data about airlines
likely powering tools like Google Flights. This includes airline contact info,
baggage limitations, fare family details and more. Travel sites should ensure
that airline-related content is comprehensive and up to date to align with
Google’s data collection practices.

Classification of hotel types: Google
categorizes hotels and tracks various attributes such as hotel types, star
ratings and occupancy constraints. Travel websites should ensure their hotel
data is detailed and accurate to improve search visibility.


The Google API documentation leak offers
valuable insights for travel industry executives, highlighting the importance
of strategic, comprehensive SEO practices. By focusing on high-quality content,
regular updates, strategic link building and user experience, you can better
position your website in the competitive search landscape.

About the author …

Brennen Bliss is the CEO of Propellic

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