Something about the magic of Google is so fascinating and far-reaching that the algorithm’s inner-workings often go misunderstood or left entirely undiscovered by searchers and website hosts. And yet, everyone using the search engine is subject to the evolutions of its ranking system.
So, how exactly does Google’s algorithm work?
You’re definitely not alone in wondering about what mysteries are unraveling behind the scenes of the search engine conglomerate’s consumer-facing window.
Consistently throughout the year, we are subject to changes in the search algorithm, but really — how many of us actually know what’s going back there?
Let’s take a look at how Google’s algorithm functions:
Google works like an old school phone book. You need a trustworthy service provider, and Google provides you the best vendors in your area with immediate contact information. But in transitioning from a search that once took place in a bound paper book, Google has digitized and enabled its algorithm to determine what you’re really looking for when you search and which brands are actually best suited for your (you, as a person) particular needs.
How can the search engine factor in so many moving pieces behind the scenes, and produce a perfectly accurate result in less than a second to its 40,000 searches per second?
How Google’s Algorithm Works
Step 1: Word analysis
First, Google has a complex (and constantly evolving) system for decoding your language. It can decode misspelled words, misplaced words, conversational language and other possible meanings for words used to determine exactly what type of information it is you are looking.
If you can remember far enough back to Google search phrases conjoined by an addition symbol, you likely remember the days of moderately relevant to irrelevant URL links that rendered your search a re-do. You tried again until you found a phrase that Google understood well enough to find you the best information.
Today, it’s almost always within your first phrase or question that Google gets the right results.
Step 2: Search the index
Once Google knows the information you need, the algorithm crawls through its index, which is like a giant database for all the tens of millions of websites available to the engine. It locates the sites that contain your keyword in the body, headings and subheadings so it knows which pages are most likely to answer your question.
Step 3: Find the best match
The index provides information beyond keyword matches, such as website quality, content schedule and popularity/authority to help the algorithm choose the best site match.
Step 4: Personalization
As Google searches for the best information-based website, it will pull from your previous browsing history, geographic location and settings to determine which site provides your ideal website experience.
Step 5: Delivery
Next, Google delivers you the most relevant, engaging and entertaining content.
Now that you know how the algorithm works, it’s important to keep up with the changes. The best advice for motivating yourself to stay up-to-date with Google’s search algorithm is to remember that Google is a business, too. And like you, it has customers to please, to impress and to retain for the long haul.
Changes made to Google’s algorithm are in response to consumer search habits and predictive market behaviors. Wherever Google can provide a better information search experience, it will adjust its algorithms and platform, accordingly.