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Google Search, Then & Now

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 by Erin Peters

Google.  For many, it’s the big abyss: a sea of nearly an endless amount of information, products and ways to improve our lives.thumb---googleSearch-infographic

Have you ever wondered how the websites, blogs or news stories appear after typing in a few words?

While it may seem magical at times, it’s actually carefully crafted algorithms that help Google deliver the best results for what you’re looking for.

When you’re searching Google, you’re searching Google’s index of the web – you’re not actually searching the web. The company that has become a verb – when searching for anything your heart desires – is the most effective search engine and a part of our daily lives.

So, how does it work?

A couple years ago, Google put together a helpful 8 minute video. While there have been some updates between then and now, the majority of it holds true.

Step 1: Searching the web.

Google navigates the web by crawling. The building blocks of their search functionality is known as “Googlebot”.  Google keeps track of it all in the Index.

Step 2: Organizing the informationGoogle Search - Then & Now

Google has written intelligent and complex programs and formulas to deliver the best results possible.  As you search, algorithms go to work to better understand what you’re looking for. Relevant data is then pulled from The Index.

While their algorithms are constantly changing, the heart of their software is PageRank ™, a system for ranking web pages developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But it also analyzes the page that casts the vote and the popularity and importance of that page. It basically tell you how important a page is, compared to other pages.

If you’ve installed the Google Toolbar, you may have the PageRank meter installed.

Step 3: Delivering the results

Your search results can take a variety of forms, from the knowledge graph and snippets to the news and images.

The knowledge graph provides results based on a database of real world people, places, things, and the connections between them.  The news results include results from online newspapers and blogs from around the world. Google loves this because of their relevance, link value and because they are constantly getting updated.

Google takes the following into account when delivering pages in a particular order:

  • Content relevance
  • Content quality
  • Content freshness & updates
  • Users geographic region
  • Site legitimacy
  • Popularity of the site (how many links are pointing to the site)
  • Value of the inbound links
  • Social media popularity & promotions

Links remain the most important external signal for search rankings.  But with this, link quality is also important in determining the search results. An inbound link from a large and reputable website is going to count more than a link from a smaller and less respectable site.

At this point, Google search has become more fresh and current, and crawls very frequently, catching updates and new content. It’s with the amazing amount of content and Google’s “secret sauce” utilizing over 200 different ranking factors that it delivers the best pages that match the search query acroos the entire index.

What’s next?

Google is looking more into artificial intelligence and machine learning, to help computers think like humans. Google purchased DeepMind Technologies and seven other robotics companies to aid in this next breakthrough in technology.

According to Larry Page, many of these breakthroughs are crossing computer science and neuroscience to understand what it takes to make something smart.

Check out the year in search, 2014:

Search on.

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