The Google Algorithm leak and what it has to do with your SEO in Shopify

Discover the impact of the Google Algorithm leak on your Shopify eCommerce SEO. Learn how to adapt your strategies and improve your online store's visibility with our expert insights and tips.

In the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization (SEO), staying ahead is a constant challenge. Google updates its algorithm 500-600 times a year, including both major and minor tweaks. This algorithm has been the tightest held as top secret throughout so many years, until recently someone from the Google team accidentally pushed a portion (seemingly) of the source code written in Elixir to GitHub.

As it fell into Microsoft's hands, one of the biggest competitors of Google, this quickly spread out and provided the most unprecedented look behind the curtain of the Google Algorithm secret. We all know how influential the Google Search Engine can be, and having this mechanism exposed is a game-changer for SEOs, and soon their ground would be shifting dramatically.

The leaked code, encompassing over 14,000 attributes across 2,596 modules, offers a detailed glimpse into how Google ranks websites and content. While it’s unclear whether this is a complete or partial version of the algorithm, an internal prototype, or an outdated iteration, it has validated many long-held hypotheses in the SEO community. Notably, Google has not denied the authenticity of the leaked information.

To digest all these attributes and modules, you may find many other posts breaking these in-depth Google algorithms to pieces. But we are here today to dig into the most critical findings from the Google algorithm leak to understand the current web trends, and also stay competitive in SEO.

Keys Take Aways

Here is the TLDR version if you need quick recapping:

  • Google do use click-through data from the search result page as a factor to rank pages by deciding between good and bad, long and short clicks.

  • Domain authority and Sitewide Metrics matter. This means staying consistent with high-quality content gives you a competitive edge.

  • Sandbox for new sites before being indexed in the ranking system. New sites will start low and gain credibility over time. There should be no such short-term tactics to help you up and running quickly.

  • Chrome UX data is used for ranking. Data from users collected via CrUX programs such as Core Web Vitals metrics play quite an important role, and even more so in the future.

Google does use click data as a ranking factor

Contrary to Google's repeated denials, the leak reveals that click data is indeed used as a ranking factor. This system, known as NavBoost, is part of the broader Panda algorithm. In particular, this implements many metrics such as long clicks, short clicks, and overall user engagement (maybe Core Web Vitals metrics). These metrics may have another comprehension as bounce rate, which SEO experts have acknowledged for the past years.

This indicates that Google cares about is their users are visiting a site by clicking through a Google Search result and find themselves engaged in the content, or they go back to the search result page quickly right after realizing the site content revealing slow or misleading. So, the NavBoost system tracks and analyzes the bad and good clicks to determine which clicks lead to good browsing and match user intent accurately.

However, do not misunderstand the click literally as "click", meanwhile it is click-through to be precise. If you are familiar with Core Web Vitals, you can tell that Google values websites with good standards and practices implemented for the sake of good user experience. Google has a strong faith that the Internet, or the Web is made for everyone, so it needs to serve us as humans, not just for some plain metrics. These data will be collected to ensure the search algorithm favors content that genuinely satisfies user needs because it is a data-driven world now.

Moreover, with AI Search is nearly upon us. What do you think that AI is fed on? Yes, data. Which one? The one that users interact with and produce will directly impact your ranking.

This means that SEOs must not only attract clicks but also ensure that visitors find the content engaging and valuable. High bounce rates and short dwell times can negatively impact rankings, making it essential to focus on user satisfaction and content quality.

In fact, Google does not lie about this. They deny the plain clicks action for the ranking algorithm, meaning that if you stay on the page, and try to trick Google with a useless button to show good interaction, or anything similar, it will not work.

Domain Authority and Sitewide Metrics

The leaked documents also confirm the existence of a "siteAuthority" metric, contradicting Google’s longstanding claims that it doesn’t use a domain authority-like measure. This metric evaluates the overall quality and credibility of a site, affecting how content from that domain ranks.

The existence of siteAuthority confirms that Google considers the overall trustworthiness and reputation of a domain when determining rankings. However, it does not mean that this factor will dominate the others, but as a supplementary one. A higher siteAuthority means that content from that domain is more likely to rank well, even if individual pages are not perfectly optimized. But on the contrary, if the individual page content is badly crafted, then the siteAuthority cannot make amends for the rest.

This insight requires a consistent, site-wide building of strong, authoritative, and high-quality content instead of using tricks and tips just for a few pages. If you implement on-page SEO auditing, it is better to implement a site-wide approach to maximize the effect.

Sandbox for New Sites

Another revelation is the presence of a "hostAge" attribute, which effectively sandboxes new sites, especially those suspected of being spammy. This approach has also been long present in the field of IP reputation scoring of email marketing to prevent newly registered domains from sending spam emails.

The hostAge attribute is designed to prevent newly created sites from manipulating search results through short-term tactics. By applying a sandboxing effect, Google can ensure that only genuinely valuable and reliable sites rise in the rankings over time. This mechanism is particularly relevant for new sites that have not yet built up a track record of quality content and user engagement.

For new Shopify stores or websites, this means understanding that your site won’t be indexed immediately. Instead of trying to bypass this sandboxing effect, focus on improving your site’s legitimacy and quality content to make a good first impression on the Google Search engine. Chrome Data Utilization

The leak also exposes Google’s use of Chrome browser data, or may known as Chrome UX report data, to inform its ranking methodology. By analyzing clickstreams and user behavior within Chrome, Google gains unparalleled insights into site popularity and user engagement, which directly influence search rankings. This confirms that Google leverages data from its widely-used browser to refine its search algorithms.

Google has also provided this data publicly as a benchmark for web developers to access their website performance by publicly collecting data from real users all over the world. You can find this data with or Google PageSpeed Insight. They can showcase Core Web Vitals metrics, geography metrics, devices, and connections aggregation data.

By focusing on these metrics, the author can optimize their sites not just for traditional search metrics but also for the user engagement metrics that Google monitors through Chrome. This approach to SEO ensures that your site not only ranks well but also provides a valuable and engaging experience for visitors, aligning with Google’s goal of delivering the best possible search results. However, please bear in mind, that there is no way that you should only focus solely on the Chrome users, but rather focusing on improving user experience overall.

In a nutshell: User experience matters the most

It is not important click data, or Chrome data, or Panda Algorithm matters more. However, the pattern is that Google prefers user engagement metrics that directly reflect the quality and relevance level of the site, which later on play an important role in ranking the website content.

User experience can be affected by:

  • Website performance: Whether your site is loading slowly and driving the user back to the search result page. Whether your button or link is reacting quickly to user interaction. Whether your content is shifting around unpredictably causing bad user experience.

  • Relevant content: Don't be mischievous. Don't show irrelevant content compared to your search result title and description.

  • Mobile optimization: Does your site look good on mobile? Is it optimized for mobile device loading?

  • Be data-driven: Look at your site data via report, dashboard from Shopify, and Google Search Console to actively improve user experience rather than focusing on lab metrics such as Google PageSpeed Insights. By focusing on these areas, you can stay competitive in the SEO landscape and ensure your Shopify store thrives in the wake of the Google Algorithm leak.

By focusing on these areas, you can stay competitive in the SEO landscape and ensure your Shopify store thrives in the wake of the Google Algorithm leak.

What should I do in my Shopify store?

Improve site performance

If the page is loading slowly, the customer will run out of patience and soon drop out of the page. It can be worse when the click is a paid ad. It would even hurt your business more. We need to combine Real User Monitoring data with Page Speed Insight audit results to produce a website performance optimization scheme. Bear in mind that you need to optimize for a good user experience, which Google highly evaluates, not just some "lab" metrics.

It is better to start trying to explore our site performance optimization suite, tailored to Shopify, with Page Preloading, App Deferral, Image optimization, Critical CSS Extraction, and more to make sure your site has the best performance possible for the sake of user experience, and of utmost importance, conversion rate.

Explore more about the State of the Web performance with Shopify

Optimized for mobile

Make sure your Shopify store is using an up-to-date theme version that supports good mobile optimization. These days, a responsive website is a must-have feature for a theme. However, make sure to use the up-to-date theme version that is optimized for mobile devices regarding loading speed, interactivity, and stability of the UI components on the page.

Sometimes, you bump into a Shopify theme that looks amazing on a desktop, you test its responsiveness with Chrome Dev tools and things seem just right. But while it is loaded on a mobile device, the button, and the scrolling seem to react slowly to user actions causing a bad user experience and bounce rate.

The tip would be to prefer themes that are available on the Shopify Theme Store over ones that are not, due to the fact that these themes meet the Shopify high standard, it will suffice your needs.

Good Navigation and Browsing.

Optimize your site's navigation to improve user engagement, especially on mobile since there is less space there:

  • Make sure that your site is showing basic browsing buttons easily: Cart button, Menu button, Home button, Search button. All should be easily accessible.

  • Make sure that this button's interactivity is responsive. If you click on the button add to cart, it should show a loading icon and open the slide cart, or cart popup quickly without any flickering.

  • Avoid having too many overlaying elements on the page, especially on small screen sizes. For example, having a spin-to-win wheel button, review button, and sales pop, along with an annoying popup for collecting emails at the same time will only harm your site user engagement.

Create High-Quality, Relevant, and Authentic Content

Start producing compelling blog content to attract and engage your audience. Focus on providing valuable insights, tips, and information related to your products or industry to establish your brand as a trusted authority. Google or any search engine would love to prioritize the author and vendors with fresh and high-quality content.

Intent optimized

Include FAQ sections and direct answers to common user questions within your content. This approach not only satisfies user intent but also increases the chances of appearing in featured snippets.

Also to include review snippets. Google emphasizes the importance of high-quality, in-depth product reviews that genuinely help users make informed decisions. But beware of the originality of these reviews. Try collecting them directly from your customer with images, and video of the real user experience.

Data driven

Leverage geographical data to tailor your marketing strategies and product offerings to meet the needs of your target audience. Stay informed about your customer's preferences and behavior to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

By prioritizing these areas, you can optimize your Shopify store for success and create a positive and engaging experience for your customers. Google prefers content that is tailored to specific locations and provides localized value.

In conclusion

Some of these leaks may sound astonishing to many people. However, these attributes must have been among the SEO experts for quite a long time. It is not so hard to come up with a hypothesis on the Google Algorithm and test it out. At the end of the day, Google cannot go against trends like Data-driven approaches, User engagement focus, and the use of AI to determine good, and original content. Google is trying to stay ahead of the curve all the time, at a much faster pace than us all.

So it is best to stay loyal to providing a good customer experience over anything else that will never lag you behind this race.

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