How Google Search works
At its core, Google Search is a dynamic algorithmic powerhouse designed to sift through the unimaginable volume of web pages and deliver results tailored to user queries. The process begins with the Googlebot, a web crawler that scours the internet, indexing web pages and updating the search engine’s massive database.
When a user enters a query, Google’s algorithm swings into action, using over 200 factors to determine the most relevant results. These factors include the page’s relevance, quality of content, user experience, and the ever-elusive but crucial element, authority. The algorithm doesn’t just stop at matching keywords; it interprets intent, considering context, synonyms, and even the freshness of content.
Google’s commitment to delivering quality content is evident in its dedication to combating spam and rewarding sites that prioritize user experience. As the search engine refines its algorithms through machine learning and updates, it ensures that the user’s journey is not only efficient but also enriched with the most valuable and up-to-date information available. From crawling the web to presenting results in milliseconds, Google Search is a fully-automated search engine that continually evolves to meet the ever-changing demands of the user experience, connecting users with the information they seek in the blink of an eye.
In essence, it’s not just a search engine; it’s a curator of the internet, unveiling the intricacies of how we navigate and discover the information on the web. This article explains the various stages of how Search works in the context of meeting the needs of your website. Having this base knowledge can help you address crawling issues, ensure effective page indexing, and learn how to optimize your site’s visibility in Google Search results.
Introducing the three stages of Google Search
Google Search works in three stages, and not all pages make it through each stage:
- Crawling: At the heart of Google’s search algorithm lies the process of crawling. Googlebot, the search engine’s web crawler, tirelessly scour web pages for content to downloads text, images, and videos from pages it found on the internet through the automated programs called crawlers.
- Indexing: Once Google completes its crawling, it analyzes the information gathered (text, images, and video files) on the pages, and stores the information in the Google index, which is a large database. In the subsection, we explore how Google creates a vast library, or index, of web pages. How the indexing process categorizes and organizes content, making it ready for retrieval when users queries Google for information.
- Serving search results: Once a site is crawled and index, Google use its sophisticated algorithms to evaluate numerous factors to present the most relevant and valuable information to users. Here, Google eagerly anticipate – the serving of search results and the relationship between algorithms and user intent.
Google crawling a website is like a librarian exploring the library shelves, reading books, and keeping a well-organized system to help you find the information you’re looking for when you ask a question. It’s like having a super-smart librarian for the entire internet!
Crawling is the process of finding new or updated pages on the web to add to Google’s already index page. This is the initial process of finding out what web pages that exist on the web. Given the absence of a centralized registry for all web pages, Google constantly looks for new and updated pages and adds them to its list of crawled pages. This stage is called “URL discovery”, when some pages have been discovered because Google visited the pages.
More pages are discovered when Google crawls and follows a link from a known page to other new pages, example, a blog page, such as a “How to” page, links to a new product or service page. Other pages can be discovered when you submit a sitemap to Google search console for Google to crawl.
Here’s a simple explanation of how Google crawls a website for someone new to the concept:
- Discovering Webpages:
- Google starts its journey by discovering new webpages on the internet. It finds them through links, just like you might discover a new book by following a library’s bookshelves.
- Reading the Content:
- Once Google finds a webpage, it reads everything on it—words, pictures, and all! It wants to understand what the webpage is about, just like you’d read a book to know its story.
- Following Links Inside the Book:
- Google doesn’t stop with just one webpage. It follows the links inside the webpage to find more related “information.” It’s like exploring the references or suggested readings in a book.
- Taking Notes (Indexing):
- Google takes notes on everything it reads and sees. These notes help create an organized list (like an index) so that when you search for something, it can quickly find the most relevant “information.”
- Checking Regularly for Updates:
- Google is diligent! It regularly checks if there are any updates to the webpages it has visited. If there are changes, it updates its notes or database so that it always has the latest information.
- Helping You Find information (Search Results):
- When you ask Google a question (search), it uses its organized notes to quickly find the most relevant “information” and presents them to you as search results.
Crawling a webpage is dependent on whether Google’s crawlers can access the webpages. Here are some common issues with Google crawlers accessing a website:
- Common server problems in handling the site which include hardware failures, software glitches, network issues, and security breaches.
- robots.txt directives preventing Googlebot’s from accessing a webpage.
- Common network issues: Slow network, Weak Wi-Fi signa, Physical connectivity issues, slow DNS lookups and exhausted IP addresses
Google indexing a website is like a giant librarian reading and organizing all the books in the library. It helps you find the information you’re looking for when you ask a question, making it super easy to explore the vast world of the internet!
This stage includes processing and analyzing the textual content and important HTML elements, such as key content tags and attributes, like
<title> <meta> elements and alt attributes, images, videos, and more.
Let’s break down how Google indexes a website in a simple way:
Imagine Google as a giant librarian trying to organize all the information on the internet. Here’s a step-by-step explanation for a newbie:
- Discovery (Finding New pages) Webpages:
- Google discovers new “pages” (webpages) on the internet by sending out its friendly robot librarians, called crawlers.
- Reading the (Books) pages:
- The crawlers read everything on the webpage, just like you’d read a book. They check the words, pictures, and all the details.
- Taking Notes (Indexing):
- After reading a webpage, Google takes notes on what its about. These notes help create a big, organized list called an index, similar to the index at the back of a book.
- Connecting the Books (Links):
- If a webpage talks about other topics and has links to related “books” (other webpages), Google follows those links to find more information. It’s like exploring the references in a book.
- Updating the Library:
- Google doesn’t stop after reading once. It regularly checks the webpages it knows about to see if there are any changes or new “content.” This way, it keeps its library up-to-date.
- Answering Your Questions (Search Results):
- When you ask Google a question (search), it uses its organized notes (index) to quickly find the most relevant “information” and shows them to you as search results.
Google ranking a website is like a wise wizard using magical spells to figure out which books are the most wonderful and important, making it easier for you to find exactly what you’re looking for in the enchanted library of the internet!
Google employs automated ranking systems, which analyze numerous factors and signals related to hundreds of billions of web pages and other content within their Search index. This process enables the platform to swiftly deliver the most relevant and valuable results, all accomplished in a fraction of a second.
Absolutely! Let’s imagine Google as a wise wizard sorting through a magical library of information to help you find the best books. Here’s a simple explanation for a newbie:
- Magic Spells (Algorithms):
- Google uses special magic spells called algorithms to analyze the most relevant information to users. These are like secret recipes that help it decide which books (websites) are the most useful and relevant.
- Website Content (Book) Quality:
- The wizard looks inside each webpage to see if it’s well-written, interesting, and helpful. The more useful the information, the higher the website is ranked.
- Popularity (Links):
- The wizard also looks at how many other wizards (websites) recommend a particular page. If many wizards link to a page, it must be important, so it gets a higher rank.
- Freshness (Updates):
- The wizard likes fresh updated page! If a page gets updated regularly, it’s considered more valuable. So, the wizard often prefers newer and updated webpages.
- Magic Spells (Hundreds of Factors):
- The wizard considers hundreds of factors to determine the order of the pages. It’s like a magical recipe with many ingredients, and each page gets a score based on how well it meet the users intent.
- Sorting the Library (Ranking):
- Finally, the wizard puts all the pages in order based on their scores. When you ask the wizard a question (search), it shows you the best-ranked pages first, so you find the most helpful information quickly.