How Google Search Works (General)

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Search engine optimization is the foundation of any local SEO strategy. As the most powerful player in local search, Google plays an outsized role in SEO. Because of this, it’s vital that brand marketers understand how Google search works. 

You might already know that Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages 24/7, but do you know how the search platform actually works? This is an essential topic for businesses of all sizes.

How Does Google Search Work?

With Google serving as the most important search engine for brands, many marketers wonder how the platform decides which web pages it will show first in search results.

According to Google, these three steps must occur before web pages will appear in its search results:

  1. Crawling - Because there is not a central registry of all web pages, Google is constantly searching for new pages to add to its list of known pages. This discovery process is known as crawling.
  2. Indexing - Once a web page is discovered, Google starts trying to understand what the page is about. Google analyzes the content of every page it crawls and stores the information in the Google index. This process is known as indexing.
  3. Serving - Every time a person conducts a search, Google tries to find the most relevant results based on its index of web pages. Determining which web page offers the highest quality answer to a specific search query is a process that’s done programmatically, taking into account the content of each web page along with external considerations, like the user’s location, language, and device. Google never accepts payment to make certain web pages appear higher in organic search results.

How to Improve Rankings in Google Search

Google offers the following recommendations to increase your website’s search engine ranking:

  • Make your web pages load as quickly as possible
  • Ensure your web pages are mobile-friendly
  • Follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines
  • Always keep your web pages up to date

For an even more detailed view of how Google determines rankings on search engine results pages, read Google’s guide to how search works.





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