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How Google Search Works, As Explained By Google

Ever wondered what happens when you type search terms in using Google? Searches occur billions of times every day and Google has to understand what you are searching for and police how it is delivered. Here’s an explanation of their methods by Matt Cutts from Google.

First – create an index

There are trillions of documents on the web. Google has to crawl and index them all in order to understand what they are, to deliver the right results back to the searcher. Google’s index is over 100,000,000 gigabytes and it took more than one million computing hours to build it. Software known as ‘web crawlers’ discover publically available web pages and follow the links on them. They report back with the data to Google’s servers. Like a public library, Google indexes the pages so they can be looked up. A good way to imagine it is to think of an index in the back of a book – in the same way, Google’s index includes information about words and their locations. A basic search will mean Google’s algorithms are looking up the typed in search terms in the index. 

Algorithms deliver the best results

Google uses 200 algorithms to determine what the search is trying to discover. There are 200 unique clues therefore, that coincide to create Google’s best guess of what you want to see. These clues include terms within a website, how recently updated the website is, the region and the PageRank (PageRank is an algorithm which is Google’s way of measuring the importance of website pages and ranking them accordingly).

The battle against spam

It is estimated that more than one million spam pages are created every hour. This is bad for anyone engaged in a search because it means the relevant websites get buried under irrelevant results. Google is constantly fighting on the searcher’s behalf to deliver the websites that are sought. The first level of defences is in the form of algorithms that detect the methods spammers use like repeating keywords and buying links. There is a further checking mechanism where pages are inspected manually for relevance. When spam pages are revealed – they are removed or demoted.

Google have become more adept in checking the meaning of content in websites rather than purely the words and components within it. This means that quality content is more likely to rise in the ranking.

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