What the Google Algorithm Leak Means for Local SEO & Attorneys

Yes, it is true, (a portion of) Google’s algorithm was leaked onto the web in May 2024. Google has been busy laying off important employees – did one of them intentionally leak it, or was it a genuine mistake?

The leaked code has a lot of good tidbits of information in it. The code is not a playbook to rank in Google Search – for attorneys to rank, nothing has changed – they still need a great site, great content, and great links.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land:

“We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information. We’ve shared extensive information about how Search works and the types of factors that our systems weigh, while also working to protect the integrity of our results from manipulation.”

Actionable Advice for Local SEO:

To be clear, this code is way over my head. However, there are indeed some bullet points attorneys and local businesses should be aware of. I’ll list those here.

  • Backlink quality is extremely important. The leaked code shows us that Google pays attention to clickstream data, possibly unlinked mentions, and they definitely place more importance on links from pages with traffic. A backlink from a page which actually gets views and provides real referral traffic is almost definitely better than a backlink from a random article on the web. Google works to ignore most links in an effort to prevent people from manipulating search results.
  • Content should always answer questions fast. The leaked code, and also the DOJ documents, both show us that clicks onto your website matter. The “life of a click” is much more than click through rate (CTR). Google is observing how people interact with your site. Do people make contact with you once landing on your site, or are they returning to the search results to continue looking for answers?
  • Site topic matters. I have written about this for nearly 20 years, but basically, a website about personal injury law is very unlikely to rank for a pizza recipe. In the real world, this sometimes presents issues for law firms with two practice areas such as personal injury law and bankruptcy law.
  • Geographical relevance. This is another issue in Local SEO. Just because you rank well in Los Angeles doesn’t mean you’ll also rank well in NYC. Law Firms with multiple locations should pay close attention to local SEO factors.
  • Site confidence. Parts of the code reference various confidence scores. Pages and websites should convey as much information as possible, showing search engines that they are real companies, with physical locations, business hours, real staff, etc.
  • Additional factors. Google likely does in fact look at the age of a website, the age of content, the age of links to determine how a site ranks. In some cases, this contradicts things certain Google spokespeople have said in the past.

That’s it!

There’s no shortage of additional reading available on the web. This is just my 2 cents on the topic and my obligatory article on the Google API leak.

In short, this doesn’t really change the way we do anything here.

If you think I missed anything please feel free to email me.