How Google Search Works: The Process Behind Each Search

Understand how Google scours the internet, documents the information and rank the search results.

Have you ever wondered how Google collects and organizes results for any questions in a fraction of seconds?

From the first few times, I thought about Google searches, the number of responses and the time to make the final list surprised me.

Take for example the search result for the keyword Digital Marketing :

search digital marketing

Awesome, no? Approximately 4.1 billion results in less than half a second!

How can one tool go through so many webpages, understand which ones have answers to the term I typed, and still sort the results to give me the ones that will best answer my question?

The mission seems to me worthy of Santa Claus. Visiting multiple addresses, delivering to everyone without missing a beat, and still being overlooked by kids?

Google Christmas Doodle

But unlike Christmas, doing a Google search is not magical.

In this article, you will understand how Google search works and how you can reach the top of searches. Come on?

How does Google search the internet?

How does Google search for the answers to your search?

When you do a search, Google doesn’t look for the answers directly on the destination sites, but rather on the list of pages indexed by them.

Rather than scouring every webpage every time someone searches – and that’s about 5.6 billion daily searches worldwide – Google uses a computer program they developed called GoogleBot to scour the internet and build an index of pages.

GoogleBot, also known as a crawler, spider or bot, starts by scouring a small number of pages (usual pages with high domain authority), and follows the links it finds on those pages to reach other pages, and so on. We explain better how GoogleBot works in this post.

In a short time, GoogleBot scans basically every page it can find and records all the information it can about each page in its index. This is where Google looks for the answers to your searches!

In the beginning, each time Google searched the internet it took about 1 month. Today the internet is mapped several times in a single day, presenting content that has been recently posted and increasing the immediacy of the search engine.

Each time it scans the web, Bot looks for new sites, changes to existing sites, and inactive sites/links.

It’s important to be aware of this, and we give you tips on how to index a page on Google in this post.

Being on its own system, indexing is a much faster way to scour the internet and ensures that in a split second you get a huge volume of responses.

But how is information from each site recorded in the index?

How does Google document information from the internet?

When scouring the internet, GoogleBot records all the data it can from a page.

It records all the words it finds and where they are on the page. The same goes for links, images, embedded content, which domain, which publishing data, and all the other elements that make up the page.

Google uses a form of storage known as an inverted list. Here, mapped terms and elements are recorded according to their presence and position on a page or document.

This helps to shorten the processing time of a search by allowing for an easier find of each term of a keyword in the index.

Usage Data is also mapped, recording how many people visit the page, how long, where they come from and what their path is in there – or their exit.

The index is a giant database (jealous of Santa’s), with all the information about the pages GoogleBot searched.

As you can imagine, this generates a huge amount of information. To store them, the company has about 16 data centres across 3 continents, mostly in the US.

Data Centers

Google invests a lot of money in ways to have more secure and efficient databases, and we’re talking about cutting-edge technology. If you want to understand a little better, they explain a lot in the video below.

But a database by itself does not answer any questions. The third step in this article will show you how Google turns the information it accumulates from each page into a response when you type your search. Follow us!

How does Google rank the results?

We go back a few years, until the day I (or at least a younger version) sought to better understand what digital marketing is.

Like anyone else, I turned to our friend Google, who found the 1.7 billion possible answers for my search.

But, why did he select these answers in the first place? And how does he decide which of all these possibilities has the greatest chance of answering what I want to find out?

To define and rank the results, Google starts in very obvious ways, but it gets complex along the way. Stay with me!

How does Google select possible answers?

The process begins with the tool defining which documents in the index contain the words ” marketing ” or “digital.” This puts them among the possible answers to my search.

In doing so, Google has reached 1.7 billion responses, but does not yet know how to rank these options.

To evaluate which order of results is most likely to match my search goals, over 200 ranking factors are evaluated.

It’s the intersection between them, generated by Google’s algorithm, that defines which results you’ll see first.

This is the object of study of SEO professionals. Understand search engines, and ensure that sites have the elements to appear at the top of searches.

I know, life is too short to read an article with 200 intertitles, but if you’re one of those people who like to hear the full story, we have an article talking about all the major ranking factors.

It is important to note that Google does not disclose its secret formula, so no one knows the absolute and unquestionable truth about what factors and their weight.

But we know enough to pass on some factors that directly influence search results, and how you can work on those factors on your pages.

Note: the list is not in order of relevance.

Google Ranking Factors

If you jumped straight into this intertitle (no judgments), I’ll warn you that I’ll talk about a few ranking factors, but you can access our top 200 posts here, or go straight to how to get to # 1 on the results page.

The search engine is always looking for the result that delivers the most value to the searcher , so it evaluates things like:

Keyword Matching

Let’s suppose instead of 1.7 billion, Google had found only 10 pages where the terms “marketing” or “digital” appear:

Marketing appears on pages A, C, I, R and S.

Digital appears on pages C, D, R, S, and X.

If my goal is to find a page that gives me answers about Digital Marketing, a result that contains both terms (such as for example results C, R, and S) gains strength in the race to the top of the results page or SERP.

Another important factor to mention about searching for keyword matches is the order in which they appear.

Again using the example above: if, from results C, R and S, only R and S contain the terms ‘marketing’ and ‘digital’ followed and in that order, as in ‘digital marketing’ , it is more plausible that be better results for my search, no?

The number of times and the position on the page where terms appear is also taken into account.

If of the two results in which the terms ‘digital marketing’ appear in the right order, one of them has the keyword right in the main title, as well as in the middle of the text, and the other has the term just at the bottom of the page. , in the middle of a paragraph, the first one is more likely to address the subject of my research.

Google is getting better at understanding that content doesn’t have to repeat the keyword ‘digital marketing’ 439 times to have the most relevant information on the topic.

But still, it is important for the searcher to know what content is about, especially using the headlines (h1, h2, h3 ..)

Domain Authority

One of the most decisive factors for positioning a result is the authority of the domain where the page is inserted. This page you are on now, for example, is within the domain.

The ability of this post to rank well for a search like “How Google Search Works” depends directly on the authority of this domain, even if it contains the exact keyword in its title.

This ranking factor tells Google how strong this domain is, acting as a digital trust vote for a site.

For example: Ever wonder why so many Google searches have Wikipedia at the top of the answers?

I had this doubt and realized that the main reason is its very high domain authority.

Because the site has a lot of complete content and links from many other sites – some of which are very important – Google understands that it is a strong and reliable domain, and its results receive more attention and affection when ranking.

This graph shows the clear impact of domain authority on search result ranking:

Google Search

Of course, the story is more complex, so I wrote a post about why Wikipedia performs so well on searches and why domain authority is high or not.

But there is one factor that is taken very seriously by the search engine, and is often overlooked: search intent.

Search Intent

I was going to start by using the search example about ‘digital marketing’, but you might be tired already, right?

So let’s unwind with a universal distraction: cute puppies.

Cute Puppies

Apparently looking at pictures of cute puppies makes people happier and more productive. Then you arrive at the office, open the browser and search for ‘cute puppies’.

What would be your level of disappointment if you only received text results in response?

When you search for cuddly puppies, you are not after “5 scientific facts about cuddly puppies”, or “how cuddly puppies feed” or “cuddly puppies: a complete guide”.

If you search for this term is why you want to see images of cute puppies, why!

You can have the highest domain authority in the world and make the most complete story content on the subject.

If it does not have pictures of cute puppies, you will not be the first result and period.

In cases where the intention is to get more information about a topic, such as the infamous keyword ‘digital marketing’, the content that goes deeper into the theme comes into play.

Factors such as:

  • content size;
  • multimedia;
  • update frequency;
  • page dwell time;
  • intertitles (and the presence of keywords in them);
  • external links that the page receives.

You can see how Google increasingly seeks to deliver exactly what you are looking for in the first place through other examples:

What is the first information that appears when searching for the term ‘one mile’?

Google Search Miles conversion

From the data analysis, the tool understood that the searches for this term are usually from people who want to convert units of measure, therefore already offers the result first, and in the form of conversion tool.

Already in the normal results section, you find our friend Wiki.

What if you search for the term ‘Spanish restaurant Manhatten’?

Google Search Restaurants

Before the first ‘traditional’ result, Google offers a map result showing where the restaurants closest to me are.

This is why this type of search is characterized as a local search. Those looking for terms like restaurant, hotel or laundry are usually looking for geographically advantageous solutions. The shorter the distance, the better.

If you want to understand how to appear on SERP for local searches, we have an ebook that tells you all about local SEO.

How You Can Have First Place on a Search Page

I could address here the various aspects of a champion content that take you to the first place in the serp, but this has already been done – and with a lot of quality.

The Elger Routh, an SEO expert of Blogger Cage, did an article about how to rank first for any keyword.

In the article, he tells how he put the Rock Blog first for the most relevant keywords in our market, and gives all the tips on how you can do the same!

I recommend reading carefully, because it’s premium content (the way Google likes it).

Hope this content helps you better understand how the world’s largest search engine works! Got any other questions? Leave in the comments what you want to discover and we have updated this article.

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