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How Google Works

Statistics show that nearly 90% of web users who employ search engines regularly choose Google as their tool of choice, yet most of these web users do not understand  how Google finds the information they are looking for.  Since the construct of the web affects what information is found through a search, the selection of a search engine affects the success of distributing any particular information.

It is therefore becoming imperative for businesses, organizations, and even individuals with vested interests who rely on the internet to maintain their operation to understand the functions of Google.  Understanding the role and activities of search engines includes understanding search engine optimization, or SEO, and why it is important.

Search engines explore the web for queried words – keywords – that are typed into the search field by the user. This is called ”crawling” in web tech lingo, and it  essentially means that a query is sent out to hundreds of computers at once to search for relative material to the query. Originally search engines functioned by finding the web pages or online documents that best matched the searched words. This is called “indexing,” and search engines still use indexing to find material with the keywords that were typed into the search field.

As the internet grew and the amount of web-based material increased, a rating system for the most pertinent documents to meet any particular query became necessary. Google developed the idea of page ranking. Page ranking is based upon citation: the number of times that any certain page has been referenced or linked by other web users at a particular time.  Therefore, as pages are indexed, Google ranks the relevance of these pages by the number and value of backlinks (or citations) that they have.  Not only does the number of backlinks matter, however, but so does the relevance of those backlinks. The more reputable the pages or users who have linked to another page are, the more Google trusts that page to respond to the queried information.

Once Google has crawled and indexed pages it finds through a particular query, it chooses the best matches across the index and ranks them according to their reliability. Results in the form of web addresses are listed on the Google search page within half a second, each with a snippet from its site which describes the content of that site.   Sometimes there are several pages of results, but almost 60% of web users only click on links on the first page of a Google search; this demonstrates how important it is to “rank high” in this order, which drives users to those sites creating more “user traffic.”  For more info and a chalkboard explanation, check out this video featuring Matt Cutts from Google:

We hope this explanation of how Google functions has shed some light on the importance of SEO, and pointed you in the right direction for comprehensive research towards SEO practices that really make a difference. Through an understanding of what types of sites are reputable and regarded for page rank in a particular industry or topic area, a company or organization can improve their search rating and gain more user traffic.The content of a company’s web page has a tremendous effect on Google ranking, as indexing and relevant words play a major role in the operation of search engines.

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