How Does Google Search Work?

It wasn’t too long ago that Londoners were dependent on dial-up modems, limited searchability and basic access to documents on the web.

The Internet wasn’t always as prolific and user friendly. In fact, it had many barriers to entry and search traffic to many important sites was unreasonably low. Soon, a revolution in search would be able to quench our thirst for knowledge, online shopping and unhindered exploration.

1 K
Search Queries Per Second
1 B
Active Queries Per Day
1 T
Search Queries Per Year

What Was the Internet Like Before Google? How Did We Search?

Google Search is now a household name and even the term Search Engine Optimization is becoming more prevalent in business and technical crowds. This wasn’t always the case. Some years ago, Londoners were suffering through dial-up web connections waiting to surf the net for what they needed to find. How did they do it?

Dialup, Directories and One Dimensional Searching

Before Google, the primary method of search was people navigating to Directories like DMOZYahoo Directory, Starting Point and Lycos then clicking anchors directing to the site they wanted. Because of this, even though people had lots of diverse reasons to be searching (searcher intent) they were limited to only a few options to answer their search query and forced to think navigationally (I’ll click this single listing on a Directory because it’s there) or transactionally (I’ll click this product because it’s listed on Yahoo’s Directory). All they had were a few choices of sites they always went to and that was the full scope of the Internet.

The Google as we know it went live in the morning of September 15, 1997 and it changed everything because it created an active indexing of the web instead of passive index of man-made websites containing lists of links. The passive era of search gave you a few navigation options, presented you with a handful of sometimes random links and didn’t empower you to explore. The active era of search gives you an infinite number of options to explore, refine your queries and tailors results according to user experience, past data and AI-powered future metrics.

yahoo, classic yahoo

What’s Going On During A Search Session?

Even before you hover your mouse, click and begin to type your query into the search bar there’s something you need to realize. You aren’t really combing the web in its entirety. You’re searching the index of the world wide web that Google has managed to discover and retain as a live document. Larry Page’s Stanford .edu homepage served as the starting of the first web crawl nicknamed “BackRub” and its purpose was to collect data from every site rendered. The research purpose was to explore the nature of backlinks as a measure of webpage authority.

Google’s Search index now contains many hundreds of billions of pages and it admits it knows of over 130 trillion pages exist on the Internet. They achieve this indexing using web crawler software called spiders which begin their journey after rendering a few web pages and then following links on those pages to a new page where they then repeat the process. These spiders work very quickly but still manage to retain pieces of data – a Coles Notes of ranking signals – on every page they visit. Every new crawl begins in the same way; from a list of past web addresses that the spider visited combined with a sampling of newly submitted sitemaps and attains new data every time. 

What Does The Google Spider See?

Even before you hover your mouse, click and begin to type your query into the search bar there’s something you need to realize. You aren’t really combing the web in its entirety. You’re searching the index of the world wide web that Google has managed to discover and retain as a live document. Larry Page’s Stanford .edu homepage served as the starting of the first web crawl nicknamed “BackRub” and its purpose was to collect data from every site rendered. The research purpose was to explore the nature of backlinks as a measure of webpage authority.

Google’s Search index now contains many hundreds of billions of pages and it admits it knows of over 130 trillion pages exist on the Internet. They achieve this indexing using web crawler software called spiders which begin their journey after rendering a few web pages and then following links on those pages to a new page where they then repeat the process. These spiders work very quickly but still manage to retain pieces of data – a Coles Notes of ranking signals – on every page they visit. Every new crawl begins in the same way; from a list of past web addresses that the spider visited combined with a sampling of newly submitted sitemaps and attains new data every time. 

Google Spider
human view
Human View

Google: How To Bake A Cake. What Happens Now?

Suppose that you want to learn how to bake a cake. If you type into the search bar ‘cake recipe‘ or ‘how to bake a cake’ Search software hunts through the index and pulls every relevant page including those terms. For a query combination like ‘cake recipe,’ the results return one million pages in less than one second. Google decides which documents to serve by asking and answering more than 200 questions or “signals” in less than a minute. It then calls up the pages that fit those signals and lists them according to best fit. Some of these ranking questions or signals the algorithm asks are:

Are you using the correct keywords for the traffic you're looking to target? What is the keyword density of your target keywords on page? Are keywords related to your targets also present?

Are you using the right amount of words and content to satisfy users? Are you deploy H1-H6 tags? Is your content well written and informative? Does it show you as a unique and genuine authority on the topic?

Is the website/webpage satisfying a user's query? Is the ranking webpage an authority for the search topic? Is it showing genuine expertise? Is it secure and trustworthy?

Are other related websites linking back to your website? Are the linking sites quality and spam free? Is your link profile composed of trustworthy websites? Are you gaining backlinks at a realistic rate?

Suppose that you want to learn how to bake a cake. If you type into the search bar ‘cake recipe‘ or ‘how to bake a cake’ Search software hunts through the index and pulls every relevant page including those terms. For a query combination like ‘cake recipe,’ the results return one million pages in less than one second. Google decides which documents to serve by asking and answering more than 200 questions or “signals” in less than a minute. It then calls up the pages that fit those signals and lists them according to best fit. Some of these ranking questions or signals the algorithm asks are:

Learn More About SEO

What Is SEO?

Now that we know how Google Search works we can ask the question 'what is seo?'. It mostly refers to the technical discipline of monitoring, improving and evaluating a website's performance in a search engine.

What Is Local SEO?

You may be interested in the topic of 'local seo' and optimizing your website for local queries. Learn all about localized search by clicking the heading above.