Leaked Google SEO ranking docs, toxic links aren’t real, PayPal’s new ad platform and more…

May 31, 2024

Hello, My Digital Darlings,

Listen up because this week’s tech tea is scalding. A massive leak of Google SEO ranking docs has shaken the industry, revealing some jaw-dropping secrets. Let’s dive into the juicy details and see what’s really going on behind the scenes.

A massive leak of Google SEO ranking docs shook the industry

This may be the craziest thing we’ve dished about yet, Dear Readers. Thousands of pages of leaked Google documents revealed a deluge of details on how their search algorithm really works.

The whistleblower shared the documents with industry thought leader Rand Fishkin, and you can read his detailed breakdown here. Key points include the fact that click-through rate impacts ranking (Google has repeatedly said it doesn't), that there’s a sandbox for newer websites (which again, Google has publicly denied), that a domain’s age is considered in ranking (again, they’ve denied this) and much much more. Fishkin’s article is full of tea and worth a read. But if you don’t have time, Search Engine Land summarized his findings here. 

Google gave a statement to Search Engine Land 2 days after the leak, and guess what - it was another denial. Here’s the full quote from the Google spokesperson so you can decide for yourself if you trust them or not - 

“We would caution against making inaccurate assumptions about Search based on out-of-context, outdated, or incomplete information.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.”

And speaking of Google spokespeople…

A Google Search spokesman roasted the concept of toxic links

A site owner was concerned because SEMRush said his site had lots of toxic backlinks, and he looked to Reddit for answers. Google’s John Mueller responded in the thread saying "the concept of toxic links is made up by SEO tools so that you pay them regularly." This isn’t the first time Mueller has roasted toxic backlinks and disavow tools. He’s said the concept of disavowing is made up, a waste of time, and won’t get you any rankings back. So if your SEO tool is alerting you of lots of toxic backlinks, don’t waste your time disavowing them. In other Google news…

Google AI Overviews have been saying some pretty crazy stuff

From telling searchers to use glue to keep cheese on their pizza to endorsing the health benefits of running with scissors, AI overviews are providing information that is nowhere near accurate. In fact, following their advice would likely get you killed. Screenshots of insane AI Overviews are all over X, and while it all seems a bit silly and goofy, the fact that the western world’s go-to source for information is spreading laughably inaccurate misinformation is actually a bit scary. 

A Google spokesperson said that these bad responses are due to “extremely rare queries and aren’t representative of most people’s experiences,” adding that the “vast majority of AI Overviews provide high-quality information.” Huh?? This isn’t just one bad response we’re talking about here. Just this one thread on X showcases over 20 different examples of absurd search results. 

There is always the option to use the new ‘Web’ filter at the top of the SERP to avoid AI overviews until they’re a bit more reliable. Now let’s move on before I get too annoyed.

Google Ads Experiments without end dates will auto-complete in August

Any ad experiments that don’t have an end date set will soon be assigned a default end date of August 23rd, 2024. Seems random, and I’m not sure what will happen to experiments created after 8/23, but ok Google… whatever you say! Dear readers, if you have any experiments running without specified end dates, be sure to set end dates before August to avoid this auto-shut down. Now for some social news…

Is Snapchat in its comeback era?

Earlier this month I mentioned how Snap’s shares surged thanks to its new and improved ad system. They’ve been rebuilding their ad business over the past 2 years and are redesigning their ad formats with a focus on “intentionality”. The new formats reduce the amount of accidental ad clicks, making data for advertisers more accurate and improving Snapchat’s algorithm by feeding it more accurate data. They’re making a ton of other changes to ad formats too, like improving augmented reality (AR) ad options and adding new bidding options specifically for the mobile gaming industry, which surely spends a lot of ad dollars on the platform. They’re making tons of other updates, and you can get all the details here.

The TL;DR? Snapchat may be in its comeback era, and I’ll keep you updated on their progress. A lot of these updates have already been made, so maybe it’s time to start running some ad campaigns on the platform again. In other social news…

TikTok launched a suite of AI ad automation tools

It’s about time they hopped on the AI mania in the ad industry! New AI-powered features for advertisers include TikTok One, a hub that unifies creator outreach, creative tools, and reporting. They also released TikTok Symphony, which is an AI-powered creative hub that offers script writing, video production, and asset optimization tools. They’re also using AI to optimize ad targeting, budgets, and more.

It’s interesting that even in the face of a US ban and a round of layoffs impacting around 1,000 of their US-based employees, they’re still fighting to embrace AI and compete with the likes of Google and Meta. It’ll be fascinating to see how things play out for them, and rest assured I’ll keep you updated. In my final bit of marketing news…

PayPal is building an ad platform to capitalize on user data

The payment giant announced plans to use data on user purchases and spending patterns from their millions of users across PayPal and Venmo (yeah, they own Venmo too) to build an ad platform. This is quite reminiscent of the new Chase Media Solutions, which I voiced my concerns about last month. A payment fulfillment company using data on what I buy to target me with ads feels super invasive, but it could be a good place to spend ad dollars. I mean, the targeting has to be good, right? And it sounds like a big part of their ad platform will be businesses paying to offer discounts and personalized promotions for users, which sounds cool… Who doesn’t love a discount? Regardless, this doesn’t sit right with me, but only time will tell…

What a massive dose of drama we had this week! Sheesh, I’m tired. I need some quiet time to recover from all the drama I just dished out. Let’s all take some deep breaths together…

Until next week, stay centered, stay savvy, and don’t let the drama get you down.

You know you love me.

Maddie Marinsider

Marin Software
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