Google’s search engine is a tool people use billions of times a day to find information. Google users enter a search term, Google then surveys all potentially matching web pages in its index, and then serves the user matches in descending order, starting with what Google deems to be the most relevant web page — all in less than a second.
How the Google engine works can be broken down into two processes:
- Crawling and indexing
- Serving results
Google computers deploy Googlebots to visit web pages in Google’s index of pages, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes only once in a while, and usually somewhere in between. Googlebots tell Google which web pages have been updated, which web pages are no longer working and why, and report discoveries of new web pages. All of this information is updated in Google’s index.
Webmasters can block Googlebots from visiting pages of their websites using what is called robots.txt programs, or by putting content behind a user login so that the content is not available to the public.
How does SEO work? It starts at the crawling state. Webmasters can also help Googlebots to visit and understand web pages — important for SEO — by doing a number of things to encourage more frequent crawls, and then enable Googlebots to zero in on the most important content and have it indexed correctly. Among these techniques are:
- Submitting a sitemap to Google
- Making site navigation simple and clearly labeled
- Making site URLs as simple and intuitive as possible
- Using robots.txt to help crawlers skip nonessential content
- Employing various techniques to help crawlers isolate original web pages from duplicate pages of less importance
- Making sure web pages follow Google best practices and avoid “tricks” to manipulate SEO
From an SEO standpoint, you want Googlebots to closely monitor and clearly understand your content and value of the website pages that will attract prospects and generate leads or online orders.
While many techniques are used to accomplish this at the next stage — indexing — keep in mind that if these target pages get lost in the shuffle at the crawling stage, all your additional optimization efforts won’t make much difference. This, incidentally, is why asking, how does a Google search engine work, is more helpful for SEO than merely asking, how does the Google search algorithm work — Google search is bigger than just its algorithm. But the algorithm has massive importance, so let’s look at it now.
For Google, the rubber meets the road when search engine users submit a query. If the user likes the results, the user will keep using Google; if not, the user will move to another search engine or find some other way of finding what he or she wants.
Thus, for Google, the question, how does Google work, has a simple answer: giving users the most relevant search results possible.
Although the goal is simple, getting there is extremely complex — and the quality and sophistication of Google’s search algorithm is what makes Google the dominant search engine it has become.
How the Google algorithm works.
Google’s algorithm is a complex formula of more than 200 factors Google applies to web pages to evaluate their relevance and overall value to a given search query. These factors include a web page’s mobile-friendliness, the quality of its content, and the number of quality links pointing to the web page and/or the website as a whole.
For good reason, Google does not share all the particulars of its search algorithm with the public. If Google did so, then businesses would spend all their time figuring out ways to “trick” the system and get their web pages to the top of the rankings, rather than figuring out how to give users better content.
How does Google SEO work? It changes constantly.
This gamesmanship has existed from the beginning of search, and is sometimes carried too far by overenthusiastic or unscrupulous SEO specialists. This is one reason Google continually updates and modifies its search algorithm. If an aspect of the algorithm is abused, Google will de-emphasize it. An example is Meta keywords — keywords written “behind the scenes” on web pages that tell Googlebots (but not human users) the important keywords on a page. Years ago, SEOs began cramming every keyword under the sun into every target web page, rendering those Meta keywords virtually useless. Today, Googlebots ignore the Meta keyword field entirely.
Another reason Google updates its algorithm is to reflect changes in technology or user habits. A good example of this is the algorithm’s growing emphasis on mobile-friendly web page design. Today, more users access the Web from mobile devices than from desktops. Clearly, Google does not want to serve these mobile users web pages that are designed for desktops — such pages are hard for mobile users to deal with and are extremely frustrating. Over time, Google has made mobile-friendliness a bigger part of its algorithm, to the point where today, even if the user is searching from a desktop, mobile-friendliness affects the ranking of search results.
How does Google work? It evolves constantly.
Technology figures to have a major impact on Google’s algorithm and search in general. Voice search, for instance, is gaining momentum. Users tend to word search queries differently for voice search than when entering text — verbal queries tend to be expressed as questions. This being the case, many new search terms are coming to Google’s attention, and businesses must consider optimizing their web content for these terms, which are growing in popularity.
To really understand how the Google company works, it’s essential to realize that Google’s main objective is to keep its search engine users happy. This is a challenge, because, as we’ve just touched on, technology and user habits don’t stand still for a moment.
In the old days, Google SERPs (search engine results pages) were simply a list of links. Today, organic results are formatted in a number of ways including answer boxes, rich results, Knowledge Graphs, Local Packs, Image Packs, and much more. Users can see results from Twitter, results that isolate video and images — the variety goes on and on.
Thus, for businesses that want to be prominent in Google search should always be asking: How does Google SEO work? The answer will bring up a whole series of additional questions that may pose significant challenges:
- How do we make our site prominent for searches with local intent?
- Should we do more to optimize our video and images?
- How can we make our website more mobile-friendly?
- Is our Twitter activity helping or hurting our SEO?
- What keywords should we be targeting?
If you are looking for help with these or other questions, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.