Have you ever wondered – you ask a question to Google, get an instant useful and relevant answer, but how does Google actually find those pages to satisfy your search intent? How does Google search works?
Now, not-so-techy people out there might find it difficult to understand this. Well, to simplify the understanding of Google’s search functioning, here’s a brief on it, brought right from Google Inside Search.
There are three main functions that Google performs to provide useful and relevant search results to users:
- Crawling: The process starts with crawling of the web (collection of web pages) in which Google sees web pages and navigates from links to link. And the crawling of web is done by the programs or crawlers called Googlebot.
- Indexing: Then Google sorts all the web pages on the basis of content and other factors such as link information etc. and put them in a repository called ‘Index’. The indexing is done by the Indexer and a Sorter program.
- Providing answers through algorithm filtering: Now, Google uses their algorithms to provide quality and relevant results to user’s query. Google’s algorithm understands the user’s intent, fetch the relevant results from Index and provide the result to the user by applying more than 200 factors that determine the relevancy and usefulness of result.
Below is a gifographic that will help you understand the process and will show you how some of Google’s features work.
Image Credit: QuickSprout
For analyzing the entire link structure of the web and filtering the most important as well as relevant pages based upon search query, Google uses more than 200 signals which include backlinks, content of the page etc. And, PageRank is still considered as the primary determinant to measure the relative importance of web pages.
After crawling the web pages comprehensively and deeply, pages get indexed within a fraction of seconds and then, the query-specific relevant pages are displayed in results.
Let’s give a deeper thought to this; when you update or add content to the web, as the web pages get crawled – page content information is stored in an inverted index. The page titles, link data, anchor information etc. are stored in another index.
Further, Google estimates page’s overall authority based on the links and content. Pages are checked against SPAM where penalties and filtering are applied over the questionable pages. Each of the pages has several data pieces attached to it that aids in user searches. Now, when a user queries Google, keywords are suggested – based on what has been typed so far.
To further refine the search query, Google uses synonyms to look for similar words. And initial result set is created and sorted by their algorithms and complex programs. Finally, organic results are displayed.