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How Search Works – Google-Style

How Search Works – Google-Style


Ever wondered how one of the most crucial online search systems, that so many publishers and advertisers rely on, works to steer traffic in the right direction?

Global search engine Google has launched a ‘How Search Works’ website, to inform users of what happens during the process of internet search.

From typing in the initial words in that minimally designed search bar, to the delivery of a surplus of pages, magnitude of images and endless gigabytes, the US multinational corporation’s new website explains the route.

Behind the Scenes

Google’s product manager, Jake Hubert, said people are curious about the process. Hubert said the educational and animated new site helps to illuminate the split-second journey from algorithms to answers.

“Here you can follow the entire life of a search query, from the web, to crawling and indexing, to algorithmic ranking and serving, to fighting webspam,” Hubert said.

Behind what may seem a simple page of results, is indeed a complex system, carefully crafted and tested to support more than 100 billion searches each month.

The web is made up of more than 30 trillion individual pages and Google navigates this by ‘crawling’, meaning it follows links from page to page.

It then sorts the pages, more than 100 million gigabytes of information, and keeps track of this information in its ‘index’.

Constant Tweaks

Programmes and formulas written by Google get to work by looking for clues to better understand what the search words mean. Based on the clues, Google pulls the relevant documents from the index.

Those results are ranked using more than 200 factors, such as site and page quality, user context and freshness. Google says its algorithms are constantly changing, as engineers run experiments, analyse results and regularly tweak the systems.

Results are then subject to automatic spam removal and at times questionable documents are even examined by ‘hand’ – with website owners subsequently informed.

Interested in more of the latest developments in performance marketing across the globe? A huge array of delegates from global programme managers and directors, to vice presidents and C-level executives, will be attending the Performance Marketing Insights Conference in New York this March. The two-day event takes place at the prestigious Crowne Plaza Hotel in central Manhattan from March 12-13. For more information visit Performance Marketing Insights.

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Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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