How Does Google Search Work?

One of the biggest challenges we face as an Inbound Marketing agency is getting business owners and CEOs to understand the fundamentals of what we do and why it’s important to their business.

Two fundamental concepts that I like to discuss are “How Google Search Works” and “The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)”. Once you grasp these concepts, it’s much easier to understand the importance of inbound marketing.

Understanding the Basics of Google Search

Today, I’m going to talk about how Google search works. We’ll get into explaining ZMOT in my next post. If you can’t wait, here’s a video from Google that will give you a good overview. 

If you asked 10 people how Google search works, I would venture to say you would get at least 10 different responses. I know because I do it regularly. Some of the more common responses are:

  • You need to optimize your site with keywords
  • You need links from other sites to rank
  • You have to pay Google to get listed
  • They have spiders that crawl the internet to find the best sites
  • You have to submit your site to Google
  • Your rankings are affected by how many visitors your site gets
  • Paid Ads help you rank better
  • Older sites rank better
  • You need a lot of content
  • They have a program that ranks sites. No one really knows how it works.
  • I’m not really sure
  • It’s voodoo

Most of the attention is usually focused on how Google ranks sites in organic search results. However, I want to cover two other key things Google does prior to ranking sites. Those two things are Crawling and Indexing, and for purposes of this discussion I’m going to keep it simple. After all, do you really care to know about all the inner workings of the Google beast? Most business executives just want to know how they can leverage the internet to generate more leads and business.

How Google Crawls the Web

Did you know there are over 60 TRILLION pages of content on the web? …and it’s growing every day. Google navigates its way through the web by “crawling”. Crawling simply means that Google moves from site to site and page to page by following links. They have automated programs that do this that are often referred to as bots or spiders. Google doesn’t crawl every page on every site every day. Over time, they know which sites are regularly producing new pages of content and they typically crawl those sites more frequently. You’re probably asking “what exactly happens when Google crawls the web?”

Crawl First, Then Index

As Google crawls the web, it captures key information about each page. Google then sorts these pages according to their content and a number of other factors. This process is called Indexing. They keep track of all the pages that are crawled in an index. When a person searches Google, indexing says these are all the pages a search term appears in.

Okay. So, crawling and indexing is simply Google’s method of capturing all the information on the web and storing it in an organized manner. This is the simple part, but it’s really all you need to understand.

Now it gets interesting. Google has an algorithm (it’s just programs and formulas) that it uses to rank which pages appear in the organic search results.

How Google Ranks Web Pages in Search Results

Google’s algorithm determines which pages they pull from the index and how they get ranked in search results. The algorithm is quite complex and has over 200 factors that determine rankings. Unfortunately, none of these ranking factors are published which adds to part of the mystery surrounding SEO. Everyone has an opinion. Some are right, some are partially right, and some are downright wrong.

What we do know is that Google wants to give users the best results that are most relevant to what users are searching for. The best results are usually pages from authoritative sites that regularly publish content people are looking for. There are still a lot of other factors to consider, but it makes sense that if you have a site that is regularly publishing original, useful, and engaging content, then your site has a pretty good chance of ranking well over time. We know this from experience.

The key point here is you should be “regularly publishing content that people are looking for”. Businesses and consumers use the internet to search for information and solutions to problems, and over 70% of buying decisions are made before ever contacting a company! This is the new buyer mentality and the Zero Moment of Truth.

Is your company there at that moment? Contact us if you want to get there and need a little help.

Download Our E-book on the Zero Moment of Truth

Posted by Doug Fowler on November 13, 2015 in Google | 0 Comments