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3 things we learned about SEO from the Google data leak (Rise #5)

This week’s big news in content marketing has been a leak of documents on Google search APIs. The leaked data sheds light on factors Google’s algorithm weighs in determining search results.

Not much is new, but the data supports some of the most hotly debated SEO theories over the years.

Theories Google reps often dismissed or suggested were wrong.

But before we dive in…

A big WELCOME ABOARD to our new subscribers! ✨

We’re honored and humbled that you’d give us your precious time and attention. We promise to treat them with care.

You can read previous Rise editions here.

Now, back to the leak…

I’m no technical expert on SEO, but I can share with you three key takeaways from analysts so far. (To read analysis from SEO experts, start here.)

1. Site-wide authority helps you rank well

It’s not enough for a page on your site to answer the search query and satisfy the searcher’s intent.

Your entire site must live up to Google’s standards. These include adherence to guidelines like E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) and Core Web Vitals.

Tip: Know your site authority score for free using Moz or Ahrefs.

3. How people engage with your site affects your SERP visibility

Do people find your site on SERPs but not click on it? That’s a signal to Google that your page may not be the ideal result for the searcher’s query.

But if people find you through search, read your content, and maybe even click to other parts of your site, that’s a strong signal to Google that you deserve to rank for the given query.

So, what now?

Nothing changesif you can honestly say you’ve been giving site visitors a good experience and making content for humans, not algorithms (or corporate gatekeepers, for that matter).

Content that solves real problems and resonates with your audiences on practical, professional, and personal levels.

If not, here are a few things you can do:

  • Assess your entire site for content freshness and quality, and for user experience.

  • Create and promote content that’s so good people will want to share it by linking to it. Think original research, industry perspectives, and opinionated content.

  • Audit your content to make sure every single piece answers the search intent behind its relevant keyword. Cull irrelevant content from your site.

Who’s nervous?

With tough competition, a deluge of AI content, and now Google’s rollout of search generative experience (SGE), it’s hard not to be scared about the future of content marketing.

I know I am.

It’s more difficult than ever to rank. And when sites do rank, there’s no guarantee they’ll get traffic, given the summaries and AI excerpts that appear above it on SERPs.

So how can our content reach our audiences online?

The answer sounds both trite and impossible at the same time. But it’s also inevitable:

Make content that’s so irresistibly good people will want to click on it, spend time with it, and share it. Promote it often in the (virtual) spaces where your audiences hang out.

This kind of content may look different on different platforms. But its core is consistent: deep audience knowledge, solid evidence, lived experience, and compelling storytelling.

Let’s raise the bar of content marketing in Southeast Asia

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Thanks for reading!


with help from Jolene

New ways of thinking about content marketing in Southeast Asia. One newsletter per month. Subscribe Now
Katrina Balmaceda Uy

Katrina's been with With Content from year 1. She previously worked at content marketing agency Animalz, and with print magazines and newspapers. She's happiest when teaching, swimming, and spending time with her kids.