How Does Google Work?

Title graphic for GrowSkills blog and infographic entitled How Does Google Work

If you have a website, you have likely asked yourself the question “how does Google work?”. Understanding how the world’s biggest search engine works doesn’t have to be complicated. Written for complete beginner’s, this GrowSkills blog and infographic will break through the jargon and simply explain how Google works!

GrowSkills Infographic entitled How Does Google Work?
How Does Google Work? – An Infographic

Google’s sole purpose is to provide the information that search users are looking for. The search engine is constantly working to organise the internet’s content so it can offer the most relevant results to the user.

Google Search works in three key stages.

Crawling

Websites don’t automatically appear on Google’s search engine results page. They need to be found by Google first. Google uses computer bots known as crawlers or spiders to scour the internet and find new or updated web pages.

Google uses several methods to find web pages, but the main method is to follow links from pages that Google is already familiar with. Website owners can also submit a list of web pages (known as a site map) for Google to crawl.

Once a Googlebot finds a page, it crawls the content/code for that URL.

Google doesn’t always crawl pages in the order its bots find them. Instead, some URL’s are “queued” for crawling based on several factors. These include the URL’s PageRank*, how often the URL changes and whether or not it is new.

So, Google’s bots may crawl (and subsequently index) some web pages before others. This means it may take a while before a whole website has been crawled, especially if the website is large.

*PageRank is an algorithm that measures the importance and popularity of a website. It determines where a website will rank on the search engine results page.

If your website isn’t appearing on Google’s search engine results page, it is likely because Google’s computer bots haven’t crawled it yet. There are a number of reasons why Google bots may not have crawled a website:

  • The website is brand new and Googlebots haven’t found it yet
  • There are no (or very few) external websites directing Googlebots to your website
  • The website’s navigation is preventing Googlebots from crawling effectively
  • Spammy SEO tactics have been used on the website and it has been penalised by Google
  • The website features basic code called ‘crawler directives’ that is blocking Google.

Indexing

Once Google has discovered a new or updated webpage through its crawling techniques, it will then crawl the page to analyse the code, content, images, video files and any other elements present on the page.

Analysing the page will give Google a clear idea of what the page is about. The information gathered from analysing the web page is then stored in Google’s index, which is basically a huge database featuring trillions of web pages.

When you use Google’s search engine, you are not directly searching the world wide web, you are searching Google’s index. More than 90% of web users use Google as their search engine. This means it is crucial for website owners to ensure their web pages are crawled and indexed by Google.

Google has provided tips on how website owners can help the search engine index their website:

  • Write short, meaningful page titles that make it clear what the page is about
  • Add page headings that convey the subject of the content on the page
  • Use more text (rather than images) to convey the purpose of the web page. Google’s bots can understand text easier than they understand images or videos. It is still important to include image/video – but ensure it features metadata including alt text.

Ranking

When a web user types a query into Google, the search engine algorithm aims to find the most relevant answer from the trillions of web pages stored in its index.

Using more than 200 “ranking factors”, Google will rank the websites based on which web pages it believes will provide the best user experience and most appropriate answer.

The web page that Google determines will provide the search user with the best answer will rank at the very top of the search engine results page. Page 1 of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) tends to list the most relevant web pages for that particular query.

To give you an idea of how important it is for a website to rank highly on Google, here are some statistics…

  • More than 70% of web users stick to the first page of Google’s search results.
  • More than 25% of web users click on the website organically* ranked at the very top of Google.
  • The website that organically ranks at #1 in Google receives 31.7% of all clicks
  • The website that organically ranks at #1 is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a page ranking at #10.
  • On average, moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase the click-through rate by 30.8%.

*Organic search results receive 94% of all web traffic. Whereas Google’s paid ads (which appear at the very top of Google above organic search results) receive less than 10% of search traffic.

Improving Rankings

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of optimising a website to help it rank better on Google. It involves a series of methods. Here are just a handful of them…

  • Carrying out keyword research
  • Writing quality and informative content
  • Ensuring that keywords are strategically placed across your website
  • Building links that direct web users to your website from external websites
  • Improving the load-speed of your website
  • Ensuring the website is mobile-friendly

If you would like help with optimising your website to improve rankings, get in touch with the GrowSkills team today.