How does Google work? What does Google actually do? For many of you, this will be fairly old news. But for everyone who is new to the world of SEO: let me explain what Google does and how SEO works. In a way that is easy to follow, because understanding this really helps you create an SEO strategy that works! Let’s take a look ‘behind’ the scenes.
How does Google work?
Search engines like Google follow links. They follow links from one web page to another. Google consists of a crawler, an index, and an algorithm. The crawler follows the links on the web. It goes around the internet 24/7 and saves the HTML- version of all pages in a gigantic database called the index. This index is updated if the Google crawler comes by your website again and finds new or revised web pages. The new version of this page is saved. Depending on the traffic on your site and the number of changes you make on your website, crawlers come around more or less often.
For Google to know of the existence of your site, there first has to be a link from another site – one that is already in the index – to your site. If crawlers follow that link, it will lead to the first crawler-session and the first time your site is saved in the index. From then on, your website could appear in Google’s search results.
Read more: Bot traffic: What it is and why you should care about it »
Google’s secret algorithm
After indexing your website, Google can show it in the search results. The search engine tries to match a certain search query with web pages that it has indexed. To do so, Google has a specific algorithm that decides which pages are shown in which order. How this algorithm works exactly is a secret. Nobody knows exactly which factors decide the ordering of the search results.
The algorithm isn’t static. It changes regularly with new updates. The factors that determine the ordering and the importance of the different factors change very often. Although the algorithm is secret, Google does tell us which things are important. We don’t know how important though, and we don’t know whether Google communicates all factors to us.Testing and experimenting give us a relatively good feel for the important factors and changes in these factors. We incorporate these factors into our Yoast SEO plugin and tell you about them in our many blog posts.
Google’s results page
Google’s results page – also known as SERP- shows about 7 or 10 links to sites that fit your search the best (according to Google). We refer to these results as organic search results. If you click to the second page of the result page, you see even more results. The further down the results your website is, the less likely it is that someone will click on your result and find your site.
Most of the time, there are a few paid links above the 10 links on the first page. These links are ads; people have paid Google to put these links at the top of the site when users search for a specific term. Prices for these ads vary greatly, depending on the competitiveness of the search term. In addition to these organic and paid results, there are also a few other elements that you can find on Google’s search engine results page.
Keep reading: SEO vs Pay Per Click advertising: Which one to choose? »
The value of links for search engines
It’s very important to have a basic understanding of how Google and most other search engines use links. The number of links pointing to a page is used to determine how important that page is. So, the more links a specific site has, the more important search engines believe it is. Both internal links (coming from the same website), as well as external links (from other websites), can help in the ranking of a webpage in Google. Some links are more important than others, though. Links from websites that have a lot of incoming links themselves are generally more important than links from small websites with only a few incoming links.
The importance of links actually lead to active link building quite quickly. As long as you are collecting links that are useful and logical, link building can be a good SEO strategy. But if you collect (or worse buy) shady links, Google may punish you for that. To help you figure out the right strategy, we wrote an article that discusses 5 link building DON’Ts you didn’t know about.
SEO and Google
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing sites to try and make them appear in a high position in the organic search results. In order to do so, SEO tries to shape a website according to Google’s algorithm. That being said, this algorithm is aimed at giving online users the best answer to their question and best experience possible. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, over a decade of experience in SEO has resulted in a pretty good idea about the important factors.
We monitor all communications by Google about changes in the algorithm, and we test what actually works in the search engines. At Yoast, we advocateholistic SEO. Your SEO strategy should never feel like a trick. The search engine wants to show the user the result that fits his or her search query best. That’s how Google works, in a nutshell. If you want to appear highin the results for that specific search term, make sure to write awesome and SEO-friendly content and offer users a good online experience.
Read on: Complete beginner’s guide to SEO »
Marieke van de Rakt
Marieke is the head of strategy at Yoast and founder of Yoast SEO academy. She loves coming up with new ideas and products to make SEO attainable for everyone, and ensure a healthy growth for Yoast!
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10 Responses to What does Google do?
roets•2 years ago
I’m a newbie in this SEO space and really want to say thank you for the info. I’ve just been following your links and it’s awesome when you see, in practical terms, how you (Yoast) have implemented the link building and SEO into these posts. Its like an open book test really. You get the info, questions and answers all in one go. I’ve started working my way through the Yoast Academy and really looking forward to it!
Camille Cunningham•2 years ago
Wow, thank you for that lovely comment! Lots of luck with your SEO courses and glad to hear that you’re having fun :)(Video) What Does Google Knows About Me
Frank•2 years ago
This is quite informative. Even though i am not too new to seo, i have learnt a lot . Thank you and i will want to learn more
Camille Cunningham•2 years ago
You’re welcome, Frank! You can find more of our blogs right here.
Arnold•2 years ago
How can we find the exact information about algorithm of google
(Video) Does Google Know Who The Merrell Twins Are?
Camille Cunningham•2 years ago
Hi Arnold! Unfortunately, the exact algorithm and its exact factors are a secret. But you can find more information on what we do know in our article What is SEO?
yalova nakliyat•2 years ago
The algorithm is constantly changing and those who work have entered the race to produce new solutions.(Video) What Does A Google Engineering Manager Do? (ft. Tom Weingarten)
Camille Cunningham•2 years ago
Hi there! You’re right that the algorithm does change :) But, because we also know that the search engines always want to show the user the best results for their search query, we advocate holistic SEO to improve your site and chances of ranking!
Ebigide Fabian•2 years ago
Thanks for sharing this insightful write up.
Camille Cunningham•2 years ago
You’re very welcome!(Video) How Does Google Autocomplete Work
The responses that you provide to any question are compared with responses from other users to determine the best answer. For some types of questions like "Translation", Google validates your answers by showing them anonymously to other users to evaluate.Where does Google get its answers from? ›
Crawling: Google downloads text, images, and videos from pages it found on the internet with automated programs called crawlers. Indexing: Google analyzes the text, images, and video files on the page, and stores the information in the Google index, which is a large database.Does Google have all the answers? ›
Google's strength is that it has all the answers. For the first time in recent memory, however, the tech community is looking at the company's search business and asking questions.What is a question Google can't answer? ›
Questions that require subjective or personal opinions: Google is designed to provide information and not personal opinions, so it may not be able to answer questions that require subjective judgment or personal experiences.How does Google know almost everything? ›
This is because Google stores your searches and search results, and tracks which links you click on each website you visit while searching.How much of Google answers are correct? ›
A study this year by Stone Temple, a prominent analyst of the industry, showed Google's search engine answered 74.3% of 5,000 questions, and on those answers it had a 97.4% accuracy rate.What is the number 1 question asked on Google? ›
What are the Most Asked Questions on Google in 2023? Have you ever thought about what are the most asked questions on Google? You may be surprised to know that the most frequently asked question on Google was “What to Watch?”. This search query generated 7.5 million online search queries every month.What is the hardest question that Google can't answer? ›
When was the first nuclear reactor opened? One second. Google has no answer for questions about effort, worth, desire, character. We have these answers inside of us.When did Google stop answering questions? ›
According to an updated Google support page, the "Questions & Answers on Google" feature will be removed from Search on June 30th. The announcement of the change isn't exactly rocking the foundations of Google's userbase.Is Google going to stop answering questions? ›
The fun is over— Google has announced that it will stop answering silly questions via a new update to its algorithm and AI strategy earlier this month. The move aims to improve the quality of its answers and the accuracy of its information and will be done mainly through improving “featured snippets.”
If your Google Assistant doesn't work or respond to “Hey Google” on your Android device, make sure Google Assistant, Hey Google and Voice Match are turned on: On your Android phone or tablet, go to Assistant settings, or open the Google Assistant app. and say, “Assistant settings.”Does Google know my name? ›
Does Google store any sensitive or personal information? In addition to the list above, Google knows personal information like your name, gender, and birthday, because you've handed over all these personal details to Google as Personal Info in your Google account.Does Google tell the truth all the time? ›
Google isn't telling us the answer, it's not telling us the truth, it's just telling us what other people have said is the truth. In this case, it relies heavily on sources such as Wikipedia for this information.What is the most commonly asked Google? ›
Google guesses users' age, gender, marital status, income bracket, and personal interests. Using the tool shows that many of Google's predictions can be off-base, but the majority of them are scarily accurate. It's also possible to stop Google from tracking your information or predicting your profile going forward.Will someone know if I Google them? ›
If you search for someone's name online, they won't receive a notification that you Googled their name, nor can they find out that you searched for them.Does Google report illegal searches? ›
The National Security Agency (NSA), on the other hand, may be monitoring your searches in search results because Google does not report illegal activity, but it does work hard to remove the most problematic content from the search results pages.Is Google always hearing me? ›
For Android devices, “wake words” include “OK, Google,” but your phone might be listening for certain other keywords as well. That does not mean that there are audio recordings of everything you say being uploaded to Google.
Nearly all voice-activated technology uses microphones that listen for "wake words." That means they are, technically, always listening. If you want to take control of your privacy, here's how to stop your smart devices from listening.What is the maximum Google results? ›
Gary Price, founder and publisher of InfoDocket, told me that Google now limits the actual number of search results it shows you to anywhere between 300 and 400.
Handling over 90% of all search queries worldwide, Google is undoubtedly dominating the global search engine market share. As of February 2023, a whopping 93.37% of all search queries conducted across all search engine providers are done through the internet giant.What percentage of search results are Google? ›
Google has 91.9 percent of the market share as of January 2022. Google processes over 8.5 billion searches per day. Google Lens is used 8 billion times a month. 63% of Google's US organic search traffic originates from mobile devices.Who is the most Googled person right now? ›
Who is the most searched person on Google in the US? According to a variety of sources, Queen Elizabeth II is the most searched person on Google, followed by Damar Hamlin.How do I get no 1 on Google search? ›
- Determine your keywords. First, determine which search queries you want Google to answer with your website pages. ...
- Tell Google what keywords you're using. ...
- Write for humans. ...
- Emphasize location. ...
- Optimize for mobile. ...
- Focus on user experience.
“What does [insert random 10-digit number here] mean?” Whatever number you fill in the blank with, chances are that it's never been asked.What is the most asked question in the world? ›
What is the most asked question in the world? It might be quite surprising to know that the most asked question in the world is “what is my ip”. There are a little over 3 million people who ask this question every month on Google and that's just one variation of the question.What questions Cannot be answered yes or no? ›
Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no', and instead require the respondent to elaborate on their points.Why did Google get rid of security questions? ›
As well as that advice from Andrew, Google used to ask for ONE security question (not questions) when you set up the account; Google have deprecated this, as they found it was too simple to hack in most cases.Does Google talk back to you? ›
TalkBack is the Google™ screen reader that gives spoken feedback for what you tap, select and activate on the screen, so that you can use your device without looking at it. For additional instructions on setting up TalkBack, refer to Get started on Android™ with TalkBack.What year did Google shut down the Internet? ›
And that's nothing: According to The Guardian, on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, at 2:40 pm GMT, Google blocked the entire internet for those impressive 40 minutes, supposedly, said the company, because of "human error" by its employees. It would have been 6:40 am in Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered.
You can have a conversation with your speaker or Smart Display and you don't have to say "Hey Google" before each question or command.Why does Google never give me the answers I want? ›
Apparently yes, as Google doesn't directly answer questions. It serves up search results based on whatever is entered into the search box which may or may not be an actual question.Why is Google interrupting me? ›
Sometimes, Google Assistant might activate when you didn't say “Hey Google” or “Ok Google.” This can happen when it detects something that sounds similar. If this happens often, you can make it less sensitive.Can I trust my Google Assistant? ›
It's encrypted when it moves between your device, Google services, and our data centers. Google products and services are built to protect your information with multiple layers of security, including leading encryption technology. Learn about other features in our Safety Center.Why is my phone reading everything to me? ›
You may have accidentally turned TalkBack on when you began phone setup. TalkBack is designed to give voice feedback to those who have visual impairment. If you accidentally turned TalkBack on during phone setup, you can turn it off. For phones with Android 8 or later, you can turn TalkBack off immediately.How does Google understand my questions? ›
The first step is for Assistant to process that “Hey Google” and realize, “Ah, it looks like this person is now speaking to me and wants something from me.” Assistant picks up the rest of the audio, processes the question and gets text out of it. As it does that, it tries to understand what your sentence is about.How does Google handle so many requests? ›
App Engine runs multiple instances of your application, and each instance has its own web server for handling requests. Any request can be routed to any instance, so consecutive requests from the same user are not necessarily sent to the same instance. An instance can handle multiple requests concurrently.Does Google give everyone same result when you use their search engine explain your answer? ›
Reasons Why Your Google Search Results Are Different
Every computer connected to the Internet is assigned a unique number called an Internet protocol (IP) address. Google identifies your IP address and tries to deliver the most relevant results to match your location.
Among the three search engines, Google provides the most accurate estimation for document counting. It provides less than 10% error in 78% of queries. Yahoo provides very accurate estimations for almost half of queries, but it provides very inaccurate results for the remaining ones.How does Google decide what to show me? ›
To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query.
Google knows who you talk to, and what you talk about. It also knows who you've been with, and when. Based on your search queries, Google knows the food, books, movies, videos, and stores that you like or dislike. Your search queries tell a story about what you are thinking about, including your future plans.What is the most common thing ask on Google? ›
|Rank||Question||Average Global Search Volume|
|1||What is my ip||4,090,000|
|2||What time is it||1,830,000|
|3||What on tv tonight||1,500,000|
|4||What font is this||1,220,000|
While police do not actively monitor Google searches, they are able to obtain a warrant for your search history if they have probable cause to do so.What do people use Google the most for? ›
Every day, billions of users rely on Google to carry out their daily searches. But apart from being a search engine, Google also provides a bunch of other services. This includes Gmail, their popular email service, as well as Google news, Google shopping, and serving as a video and images platform as well.Can anyone see what I search on Google on my phone? ›
Yes, they can.
The people who can access this information could be your boss or family member if they control the network. It is best to use security tools: VPNs, HTTPS proxies, and the Tor browser to keep your searches private from them.
1. Google. With over 80% of the search market share, Google is undoubtedly the most popular search engine.What is the most used search engine in the world? ›
Google is the most frequently used search engine worldwide.What is the Google blacklist list? ›
What is Google Blacklist? The Google black list is a database maintained by Google that contains websites flagged as unsafe for users by Google, other search engines, or security companies. These websites may host malware, Phishing attacks, spam ware, etc, and Google blacklist protects the users from these.Can Google flag your searches? ›
Does Google Report Illegal Searches? Google is not the police. In most cases, Google will not report suspicious searches unless circumstances call for it. Child pornography is a prime example.Can I trust Google search results? ›
Over the past 20 years, billions of people have trusted Google Search with their questions. Every day we work to earn that trust by providing reliable information and protecting your privacy with built-in security technology. We secure your data with industry-leading technology and by encrypting every search.