How Does Google’s Search Engine Work?

29 March 2021
by Atlas SEO
5 mins
How Does Google’s Search Engine Work?

Web search engines such as Google use complex tech, including algorithms, to sort through a database of information and present a user with results relevant to a particular query.

Search engines are now a fundamental part of digital life. Without them, people would not be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. Google is the dominant player in this space, with a market share of 91%, which dwarfs that of rivals Bing (2.69%) and Yahoo! (1.47%).

That’s why optimisation for search, or SEO, is centred around Google, as this is the place you need to be front and centre to drive key metrics and achieve important content marketing goals. Understanding how this search engine works will make it easier for you to create, manage and update content campaigns and web pages.

The basic processes

There are three basic stages inherent to the search engine process: crawling, indexing and search results. Google uses its own “web crawlers” called Googlebots that trawl through the vast number of pages across the web and log page URLs.

Google then revisits each of these pages to index them. At this stage, Google is analysing the assets within, such as the content and images, and trying to understand the context and relevance of each. This mass of information is then stored in a database – a sort of a digital library – for later reference.

The final part of the process is the most visible to users. This is when Google populates its search results with blue links and other forms of rich results, based on a user’s query. Google always aims to deliver the highest quality results and its algorithm is a big part of this.

If you have recently published an excellent, authoritative blog or article, you will have a better chance of being ranked on the first page of Google. That’s why using the best link building services and regularly publishing content is so important. Other factors are also in play here, including a user’s location, device and search history.

Optimising web pages for search engines

The whole process is quite complex but actually optimising your content and pages for search engines can be relatively straightforward if you have a few basic building blocks in place. To rank in search, you first need Google to crawl and index your content, as noted earlier.

To find out whether your pages are already being indexed, head over to Google and enter your domain name with the prefix “site:”. Hopefully, you should see a list of your pages and a general estimate of the total number of indexed pages in the top left corner.

If you don’t see any pages here, you could have problems with HTML code that is blocking Google from accessing your content. It might also take some time for your site to show up if it has recently launched and hasn’t been crawled. Diagnosing the problem quickly is important, as you need Google to see your pages.

Site navigation is also critical. Google needs to understand the structure and hierarchy of your site to find all your content. The first step here is to create a sitemap – effectively, a blueprint of your website that helps search engines to find the most important content. You can create and submit a sitemap via the Google Search Console.

You should also use internal links within your content to point to different sections of your site, and attempt to generate backlinks from other sites. With Google’s imminent switch to a mobile-only index for Google, your mobile site should be almost an exact copy of your desktop site.

How Google’s algorithm works

Google’s algorithm is the last major piece in the search engine puzzle. Google uses its algorithm, which is constantly updated, to surface and rank pages, based on a user’s query.

There are potentially hundreds of factors that the algorithm takes into account in order to populate SERPs and they cover a whole gamut of tangible and intangible things on your site and within your content. They can generally be broken down into domain, page-level, site-level, backlink and brand signals, among others.

Google reportedly uses at least 200 ranking factors and while it can be hard to gauge the “weighting” of each of these factors, there are some that are more important than others, according to SEO experts. They include:

  • High-quality, relevant content.
  • Mobile friendliness.
  • Page experience.
  • Page speed.
  • Links and backlinks.
  • Metadata and schema.

Within each of these is a subset of factors that affect the greater whole. For example, for your content to be optimised for search and be deemed relevant, it needs to feature a set of target keywords and be aligned with search intent. By partnering with an agency that specialises in SEO services, you can start crafting content with these factors in mind.

Management software company CoSchedule said it saw a 594% uptick in organic traffic after building its content strategy from the ground up with search intent at its core. By giving readers what they need, providing value in some way, Google will rank your content and you will benefit from higher levels of clicks, traffic and conversions.

A recent study from SEMrush also found long reads with optimised titles and headers, a few bullet point lists and images or social posts embedded within deliver better results. This highlights how content is fundamental to SEO and how search engines work.

When content resonates with readers, it can also lead to even higher rankings. Google’s Udi Manber says: “The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, 80% of people click on #2 and only 10% click on #1, after a while we figure out probably #2 is the one people want, so we’ll switch it.”

By taking care of the technical aspect of web pages and then following it up with an effective SEO-focused content marketing campaign, you will be catering exactly to how Google’s search engine operates.

If you want to know more about the role content plays in SEO or want to start working on a content marketing strategy that can boost your visibility in search, contact us today and we will provide assistance.


Have a question?