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How Does Google’s Search Engine Work?

June 5, 2013 6 comments

Today we discuss a mighty secret, one nobody at Google HQ wants you to know about. Yes, we’re going to explain to you exactly how Google works. 
It’s Google’s mission to provide its users with the best possible information related to the search query it has been asked by a user, right?
So how does Google do that? How does it sift through the BILLIONS of pages on the ‘net to serve up the perfect answer to your question?
Now, I’ve come to learn the average person really doesn’t give much thought as to how this works. But, personally, as an SEO this is a question I have to ask myself everyday.
So Josh, how does Google work?


Well it is not an easy question to answer! But, to answer it simply Google has a mathematical equation (an algorithm) that works out which website is most relevant to a search query.
Google employs a robot which crawls the Internet gathering and downloading information about every website in existence. It adds this information to the “Google Index”, which is then called upon every time a search is made.
The information that is best matched to a users query is then presented in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in order of relevance.


To complicate things a little, another “spice” is added to the search mix, this hypothetical spice being ‘authority’. Instead of relying just on the information present on a website and the relevance the content has to a search result (many webpages can be of equal relevance to a search query) authority and reputation also play a part in determining which webpages appear in the SERPs.
If a brand’s domain (website) has high authority and a good reputation in its industry it will rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) compared to a webpage of similar relevance.
Reputation and authority are built upon the number of external websites that link to a website. As Hubspot’s Marketing Grader tool explains so beautifully each external website that links to yours is in essence a vote in the giant popularity contest that is the internet. The more links you have, the more authority and reputation your website has in Google’s eyes.


Now, to up the notch of complication a little bit further let’s add a couple of other ingredients to our search engine recipe; firstly, not all links are born equal.
Each link has its own unique value, which is based on the linking domains own authority, relevance and reputation. These three principles make up Johnson and McGee’s (2009) Search Engine Tripod of Love – I would recommend this great book to any small companies looking to do SEO themselves.
Having a link from an authoritative website that is related to your industry, for example a link from the BBC website to your news story website will be extremely powerful in boosting the reputation and authority of your domain.
Having 20 links from obscure, random, spammy websites won’t provide half as much link value. Therefore, it is important to build links from as many high authority, relevant websites as possible.

Anchor Text

The next factor that Google considers when ranking webpages in its results is ‘anchor text’.
Anchor text can be defined as the linking text between two websites, for example you will often see the phrases ‘click here’, ‘read more’ and ‘next’ linking two pages together. Google considers the anchor text that links the sites together to have some relation to what the linking page is about. Therefore anchor text should always be informative and include keywords or phrases that relate to the linking page.
A lot of webmasters miss this trick! The more websites that link to you with specific anchor text, the more relevant your website will be for that specific keyword/phrase.

On-page SEO

Moreover, Google’s algorithm looks at several ‘on-page’ signals to help rank the relevance of an individual page to a search query.
These include what text has been used in the; heading tag, title tag, file names, image alt text, keyword density and URL structure to name a few. To learn more about how to optimise these aspects of your website head on over to Moz’s On-Page Ranking Factors resource or check out beginners On-Page SEO guide.


The top tips to take from this article are;

  • Google has a robot that crawls the web, adding information about every webpage to the Google Index.
  • Every time a search is made the Google Index is checked and the most relevant and authoritative webpages are presented to the user.
  • To increase the authority of your website you need to have several links from authoritative domains related to your industry (just how many will be discussed in a future blog post).
  • To increase the relevance of your webpages informative anchor text should be used to link to your website from other domains. This is also true when linking in between pages on your own website.
  • To increase the relevance of your webpages further all on-page SEO best practices must be implemented.

I hope you have found this blog post to be of use, at Improve My Search we hope to provide the best value possible. If you have any ideas for a further blog post please do let us know in the comments below.
Have a great day!
By  @hamit



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