The SEO community has been digesting the recent leak of thousands of Google API documents, offering unprecedented insights into the inner workings of the world’s most influential search engine.

This leak, confirmed as genuine by Google themselves, reveals how Google processes and ranks search queries. The implications of these leaks are vast, impacting how digital marketers should approach their organic strategy.

These leaks are not the first reference to Navboost, however they provide additional context on the importance of Navboost, and how it’s used to improve the relevance and quality of Google’s search results.

Multiple sources have suggested Navboost is among Google’s most influential ranking signals. The leaked documents mention ‘Navboost’ 84 times, with five specific modules including Navboost in their titles.

The Google API leak: an overview

The leaked documents, which surfaced from internal Google repositories, provide a detailed look at Google’s API, particularly the search engine’s internal processes and ranking factors.

According to the leaked information, Google employs Navboost to analyse click data and uses it to optimise rankings. This is significant because it confirms long-held suspicions that user engagement metrics play a crucial role in search rankings, a fact Google has previously downplayed​.

What is Navboost?

Navboost queries are critical high-volume search terms for which Google has substantial click data, often associated with specific URLs. This system appears to prioritise brands who typically perform well both in terms of search CTR and actual brand search volume, enhancing their visibility in search results based on historical data.

Navboost collects and analyses data from user interactions within Google’s search environment. This includes tracking which search results users click on, how long they stay on a page, and whether they return to the search results to find another answer.

This clickstream data is vital in understanding user satisfaction and adjusting rankings accordingly. Notably, it has been suggested that Google also uses data from Chrome to enhance this understanding, although this is still a topic of debate​.

The importance of brand for organic performance

One particular roundup drew links to a 2012 patent associated with Panda. One reference looks at whether a page has too many or too few links when compared to its branded click volume, in other words has the page been ‘over-SEO’d’.

google patent
Source: Google

It would seem then that branded searches not only increase direct traffic to your site, but they may also influence non-branded search algorithms, particularly for top-ranking high-volume terms.

Not only can Google compare non-brand queries against branded search volume, brand performance can be identified by a single page or site receiving the majority of clicks for a specific term or concept, establishing it as the dominant choice among users.

What this means for your organic strategy

This information further emphasises the importance of user engagement and click-through rates on organic performance, underscoring the need for high-quality content that meets user intent, as well as the importance of building a strong, well recognised brand​.

1. Brand and organic search performance are inextricably linked

Google has various methods for identifying, sorting, ranking, and utilising entities, which include brands, their official websites, and associated social accounts.

Sparktoro research shows that Google is increasingly prioritising large, influential brands over smaller, independent sites and businesses. This trend indicates a strong bias towards directing traffic to these dominant web entities.

2. UX and engagement metrics are critical ranking signals

This is (hopefully) nothing new to readers, however these leaks validate what most SEO’s have been assuming for years. 

3. Entity optimisation and E-E-A-T are still important

The leaked documentation indicates that Google can identify authors and categorize them as entities within its system, and we know that if you improve your presence and authority as an author could enhance organic performance.

What’s next for organic search?

The era of hyper growth for smaller brands via basic SEO practices is over, and the need to invest in developing a credible brand is more important than ever. 

We’re witnessing a huge pivot towards AI powered search. We’ve already seen the rise (and temporary fall) of AI overviews. Google are facing existential threats from organisations such as Open AI, who have recently partnered with Apple to power iOS18. This will no doubt have a huge impact on the search behaviour of the 1.5 billion Apple users worldwide.

In the light of these AI powered search results and increasing competition, Google have been deepening their partnership with Reddit, showcasing more UGC directly in SERPs and accumulating more social data to help strengthen their understanding of brands and entities. 

Google seem to be leaning into brand, E-E-A-T and click based signals as ranking factors to surface the most reputable brands for its users and provide an improved search experience.

For SME’s and smaller publishers, this will make it more difficult to succeed via SEO alone. Investing in broader brand building activity as part of a truly integrated organic strategy is now essential for growth.

Our approach to organic search