How Does Google Work?
Posted on 4th June 2021
That’s the $64,000 question! And, as you’d imagine, something we get asked a lot at it’seeze Web Design Nottingham. You might think that, underneath all the smoke and mirrors, it’s actually quite straightforward. And guess what, it is. But there are still a few facts that it really helps to know if you’re keen to get under Google’s skin. Let’s take a look.
1. When you search on Google, you’re not searching the Internet
No, we’re not going mad.
When you use Google to carry out an online search, you’re not actually searching the world wide web. You’re searching Google’s own copy of it. The same applies to the other search engines, too, which is why you won’t always get identical organic results when you carry out the same search on Bing or Yahoo!.
Whilst Google doesn’t list every single page on the Internet, it does have a copy of several billion web pages. Pretty impressive. This is known as the Google Index. All the other search engines have their own indices, too, but none of them are as big as Google’s.
2. Google uses ‘bots’ to make copies of the Internet
You’ve probably heard of search engine bots, often referred to as ‘spiders’. These are little pieces of automated technology that crawl all over the web, visiting websites and following links to all the pages within them. These pages are then copied into the Google Index so they can show up on search listings.
The sequence in which bots visit web pages is pretty random. It can take a while for them to find new content, although there are steps you can take to speed up the indexing process. These bots work tirelessly and in large numbers, so even if you do nothing, your content will be found in the end. (How well it will rank is another matter!) It’s worth noting that, since a change in the Google Algorithm a few years ago, bots will now visit mobile versions of a site first, as these are prioritised over desktop versions.
3. Google searches its own index every time you type in a search term
You normally get results pretty quickly when you do a Google search. Which is quite amazing, really, given the sheer number of potential results for most searches (we’re talking in the millions). Google even tells you how many results it’s come up with at the top of the page.
The process itself is quite simple, as Google’s search engine simply scans all the web pages in its index to find those that contain the word or phrase you’re looking for. The mind-boggling part is the speed at which this is achieved!
Once Google’s found what it’s looking for, your results will be presented in the familiar list format we all know and love. These pages are known as the Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs. The order in which web pages appear is known as the page ranking. To decide which goes where, Google ranks each page against more than 200 criteria – all in a split second.
These criteria include:
How many times the page contains your key words
Whether the words appear in the Page Title and/or URL
How close to each other they are on the page
Whether the words are emphasised as headings, in bold or underlined
Whether the page contains other versions of the same word
The quality of the website, e.g. working links, relevant content, average dwell time, bounce rate, etc.
The web page’s page-rank, i.e. how often it’s linked to or from other webpages
Website speed, including loading times for large images and how fast the hosting is
Website security – is an SSL Certificate installed?
Once all this information is in place, the ranking factors are collated and each web page is given a score that determines its position in the SERPs. You’re likely to see both paid-for (Pay Per Click) and organic (free) results, plus other types of listings depending on the nature of your search.
In a nutshell, that’s how Google works!
We hope that’s demystified some of the workings of the world’s largest search engine and helped you understand how your own web pages end up on Google. Next time, we’ll be answering another burning question that leads on from this article: “Why isn’t my website at the top of Google?” Watch this space!
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