[Analysis] Google Algo Leak: Are They Telling The Truth About Content & Links?


Is Google algorithm leak really news? I think it’s not. It’s what us SEOs have been saying for years. The secret sauce for success is as simple as it gets: Great content + Great links. To back this up, we analyzed our most successful link building campaigns (over 1,000 links analyzed) to find out if there’s a correlation between what Google is saying and what we’ve been doing. 

The answer: Google is telling the truth. And we knew it all along.

Key Findings

  • Topic Relevance had the highest correlation score at 0.93, followed by Anchor Relevance at 0.87 and Website Authority at 0.75.
  • Links get you to the 1st page. Clicks and engagement get you to the 1st position. 
  • Topic Relevance is worthless without Website Relevance. 
  • Page Traffic doesn’t seem to play a significant role for what Google considers a great link.

First Things First

Before we dig into how we analyzed our campaigns and found the correlation, let’s step back and go through what Google is saying about links’ importance.

Anchor relevance

There is a series of algorithmic demotions in the documentation, and “anchor mismatch” is one of them. This is Google’s way of saying that when the link you’re getting doesn’t match the target site it’s linking to, Google demotes its value. Google is looking for relevance on both sides – simple as that.

Link spam

The documentation includes a series of metrics about how Google identifies spikes in spam anchor text. The main reason here is for them to identify when a site is getting spammed from a negative SEO attack. Still, it’s crazy how many website owners fall into this trap and build hundreds of backlinks (with identical anchor text) on pages and websites regardless of context or user experience – doing more harm than good.

Homepage Trust (Site authority)

Google decides how to value a link based on how much it trusts the homepage. This is where most site owners fail. They focus on quantity, building many links on irrelevant sites (which Google, at best, ignores—worst case, penalizes) instead of building quality and relevant links.

Website relevance

The siteFocusScore is able to capture how much the site sticks to a single topic. The site radius captures how far the page goes outside of the core topic based on the site2vec vectors generated for the site.

Finally, bye bye link farm sites that write about freaking everything – from SMS Marketing to what Lady Gaga wore at the Met Gala. It’s great to see you go. See you never 🙂 

Topic relevance

Topic relevance turned out to have the highest correlation with our campaigns success, and that didn’t come as a surprise. You want links on pages that talk about the topic that match your link. What’s the point of getting a link for “sms marketing” on a topic that talks about “types of pillows that keep you cool in summer”?


The documentation includes a metric called sourceType. According to this metric, Google indexes pages into three tiers:


According to this metric, pages that are considered “fresh” are also considered of high quality. This means you need to aim at building links on pages that are as newly published as possible.

Our Analysis Methodology

We knew that what we’ve been doing for years, we’ve been doing it right. Hey, our results show that. But, we wanted to see if there’s a correlation between what we’ve been doing and what Google is saying, and which factor had the highest correlation.

We took our most successful link building campaigns and analyzed all the links we have built for them (over 1,000 links analyzed), and categorized them into six main categories:

  1. Site authority
  2. Website relevance
  3. Anchor text relevance
  4. Topic relevance
  5. Page traffic
  6. Page freshness

Let’s go through each of them.

Site authority

We analyzed the site authority of all the links we’ve built. Notice I’m not saying DR, nor Traffic. Those are easily manipulated. You can pay someone a couple of bucks on Fiverr and artificially increase this metric, but you can’t trick Google. Take a look at this site for example:

On the first look, this site has a DR of 53 and 9.3k traffic. These are considered to be great metrics and many link builders aim for such numbers when building links. But, a great link builder will notice the red flag immediately. Notice how the site’s traffic value is only $7 – which is pretty low for the “traffic” it gets.

Investigating deeper, we notice that the keywords this site is ranking for are worthless:

They’re manually (or automatically) searching for keyword variations of their domain, tricking Ahrefs into thinking that many people search for this keyword on a monthly basis, and, of course, their site is going to rank 1st for it.

Investigating even deeper, we see that this keyword had 0 searches until August 2023:

And suddenly thousands of people a month are searching for it? Don’t think so. This is where most site owners fail when it comes to validating the links their agency is building for them. They only focus on DR & Traffic; but, there’s more to that.

I’m talking about website authority! Before getting a link, we deep dive into each website and consider the following:

  1. Is it a real brand?
  2. Does it have contact information, social proof, and similar?
  3. Its backlink profile. Are other big sites trusting this website?

A real brand with lower metrics is way more valuable than a “fabricated brand” with fake metrics. Never forget that.

Website relevance

You need links in websites that are relevant to your page. If you’re getting a link about, say, “email marketing”, you need to find websites that, ideally:

  • are email tools
  • talk about marketing strategies
  • are marketing agencies that offer email marketing as a service, etc

Anchor relevance

As Google says, the anchor needs to match the target site it’s linking to. Linking to a page that talks about “sms marketing” with the anchor text being something irrelevant like “event marketing” will most likely make Google to ignore the relevancy of that link, even if other metrics meet their criteria. 

We manually analyzed all the anchor texts we’ve used, and found a correlation of 0.87 (strongly positive), meaning that Google was valuing the links we’ve been building with relevant anchors. 

Topic relevance

Topic relevance turned out to have the highest correlation when it came to campaign success. We knew this all along. For all the links we build, we aim to get the link in a relevant topic that talks about the page we’re pitching. 

Here’s a perfect example. We were building links on a page that was an email verifier tool. The page we got the link from was talking about “Streamlining Your Communication with Email Verifier Tools”:

The anchor we used was “email verifier”. That, my friends, is the anatomy of a perfect link.

But, don’t be tricked, because topic relevance is absolutely nothing without website relevance. Here’s what I mean. Let’s take a look at this article:

(not our link)

This article talks about email marketing tools, and it would make perfect sense to get a link here because the topic relevance is pretty high. Still, this is where most get it wrong. By simply looking at the website’s header, we notice that this website talks about, well, everything. From business to fashion, technology to health, and politics to sports:

It’s what we SEOs call a typical link farm. They post about every topic possible with the only goal of selling links. Google, at best, ignores these links. At worst, it will penalize your website. Stay away from these links folks!

Page traffic

According to the leaked documentation, Google takes the page (not site) traffic into the account when valuing a link. The more traffic the page has, the more valuable the link is.

However, based on our analysis of over 1,000 links, this doesn’t seem to play a huge role. Most likely, Google added a low weighted score on this metric. While most of the pages we built links to had low traffic, this didn’t stop Google into considering our links valuable and making our campaigns a success.

Page freshness

According to the leaked documentation, the fresher a page is (when was it published) the more valuable a link in that page is. 

This is where my programming background kicked in and I went back to my first love. I built a Google Spreadsheet script that automatically scrapes the links and tells when the page was first published.

(Wanna get the script? Hit me up and I’ll send it to you)

This turned out to be somehow true, with this metric getting a correlation score of 0.61 (moderately correlated). Again, it seems like Google has added a lower weighted score to this metric compared to the others. 

Anchor spam

We’re very careful when it comes to the anchors we use for the links we get. When building a large number of links, it’s highly recommended to avoid using the same exact anchor over and over again. 

If, for example, you’re building links to an “email verifier tool”, aim for an anchor text distribution, like:

  • email verifier tool
  • email verification
  • email verifier
  • verify emails
  • email verification

None of the campaigns we’ve built links for had an anchor text spam.

The secret sauce: Clicks

We’ve talked about links and their importance, but links can only get you so far. You can build the best links and rank in the 1st position, but if the users are not interacting with your page (not clicking it, or clicking it and immediately exiting your page), Google will sooner or later push you further down to the results.

This is where great content kicks in. Before starting building links for a page, we always take a look at its content and see if there are improvement opportunities.

Thanks to their great content, our pages were getting sufficient clicks. On average, the pages we built links for get around 40 clicks a day (some up to hundreds and some less).

And not just clicks. Users were staying for a long time on the page – telling Google that this content is helpful and answers the search intent; hence, giving Google a signal that this page should be ranked higher.


This is what you’re all here for, so here we go. After having all our data ready, we analyzed them to come up with correlation coefficients and understand which metrics played the highest role in campaigns success. 

FactorCorrelation with Success
Topic relevance0.930 (very strong)
Anchor relevance0.877 (very strong)
Site authority0.854 (strong)
Website relevance0.596 (moderate)
Page traffic0.088 (weak)

Based on our 1,000+ links analysis, topic and anchor relevance play the key role in link quality, followed by site authority and website relevance. Page traffic, on the other hand, had a weak correlation, indicating that Google pays little to no attention to it when it comes to valuing links.

Final Thoughts

The time of building irrelevant links at scale is thankfully over. Link Building, as an industry, is becoming more and more competitive. Only by building high quality and relevant links, will you be able to outperform your competitors.

Google is speaking to us. Are we going to listen?

Disclaimer: This analysis is limited to five link building campaigns and only 1,000 links. This is a very small pool compared to the thousands of links that get built every day. At no means are we saying that our scores are exactly how Google validates great content & links.

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