Did you know that there are over 60 trillion web pages out there on the internet today – and that number is constantly growing? Search engines like Google crawl the web every time you search for something, and they show you a ranked list of the most relevant results. These results are based on a huge number of things like how new a website is, the quality of their design, how popular the site is, how safe the site is, and other SEO factors. It’s important to understand how Google search works because it is the most used search engine in the world (by a huge amount) and it’s the primary way you’re going to get organic traffic.
You can see a really interesting animated version of this info on Google itself here – the design of this page alone is worth looking at. There is so much really interesting information here that you could read on about the inner workings of the Google search engine for hours. I’ve pulled the information for this post from this site to give you a summarized version of the most important details, so you can better understand how search works, and use that knowledge to help your site.
Before you search for anything, Google already has all of the pages on the web listed, crawled, and categorized in an index, so that they can return results almost immediately when you type in a query. Google updates these results all the time by crawling the web and looking for new links and pages to update their index with, so they can always provide you with the most relevant and up to date results.
Though webpages can pay to have their sites appear in your search results when relevant (you’ve probably seen paid results at the top of most searches you do) sites can not pay to have their sites crawled more frequently. This means that every site on the web has an equal chance of showing up in relevant search results.
However, sites can also choose if they don’t want to be crawled by Google. When you sign up for a new WordPress.org site, right on the front page when setting vital information like your username and password, you can select whether or not you want Google to crawl your site. With more advanced coding and options you can also choose how Google crawls your site, and decide minor things like whether you want an excerpt displayed on the results page.
Google is constantly working on and improving the way their searches work. You may have heard of the overhaul that happened in April which made searches start to favour mobile responsive sites. This is because Google knows what a huge portion of people use mobile devices to browse the web, so they want to provide results that are relevant and can be viewed easily on mobile.
Google also has to fight against spam sites – new ones are created every day all over the world. Spam sites try to steal search results that aren’t really relevant to their content, and they bury relevant pages among them. There are sites that are pure spam (not any real content at all, just spam) and lighter spam sites that are real but just trying to bring in irrelevant search results. For example, if you wrote a post about how to pluck your eyebrows, and then tagged it with ‘fall’ and ‘halloween’ because you know they are relevant search terms right now, your post is spam. You are trying to steal search results that don’t belong to you. Google tries to fight off fake relevance like this by not only looking at the terms you tag your post with, but by comparing them to the actual content of your page and site.
Knowing how Google works will not only help you in your own searches, but it will help you make your site the most search friendly it can be. Organic traffic is huge, and the more times you can show up in search results, the better your site will do overall.
This image was created by Google and found here.