How Google Works: 4 Great Infographics

5 February, 2013

Google continues to be the leading search engine in Australia with almost 93% of marketshare, yet for most of us we have no idea how Google actually works.

At first glance, most of us think we are searching the web when we search Google, but in reality we are actually searching Google’s database of web pages. This database is just like an index of library books, listing each of the titles under a certain subject. The key difference being how Google ranks and organises the results according to it’s algorithm.

Below, we’ve put together some of the best inforgraphics that shed light on how Google works from both a practical, technical and user experience point of view.

1. How Google Works

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This detailed infographic from PPC Blog discusses how Google crawls, evaluates and displays a page. It shows us how bots, indexing, links, editorial policies, penalties, keywords, synonyms, page rank, and filters are utilised in the process of turning web content into Google search results.

It explains how ads are sorted, how user personalisation works to display the most relevant results for a particular user, how and why Google prioritises certain search results over others. And although it acknowledges that the company is extremely secretive about its data centres, the infographic also contains a few speculations about these data centres, including how many there are and how much power they use up.

2. What happens, before during and after you search

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This inforgaphic is straight from Google and answers some of the more basic questions about Google search. If you’ve ever wondered how Google provides answers to all your questions in mere seconds – sometimes even before you’ve finished typing the question – then this infographic is for you. It shows what goes on before we search (web spiders crawl the web, linking data and connecting them to Google’s servers), as we search (algorithms begin the instant we begin typing), and how the results are ranked and displayed.

3. Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors

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This infographic from Search Engine Land discusses some of ranking factors used by Google, including categories such as content, HTML, architecture, violations, blocking, links, social, trust, and personal. These work together to influence whether a particular page comes out at the top of the search results or are hidden from view. Violations such as stuffing, cloaking, and paid links are detrimental to ranking while favourable elements such as quality, research, and reputation increase the odds of success.

4. How Google Works

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This infographic looks at Google search from another perspective, how your query moves through Google’s servers to produce the results page you see on your screen. I’d love to hear some feedback on this one in particular because it seems a little over simplified! For the non-technical amongst us it’s a simplified answer to a detailed process.

Have we missed any? Let us know below.

By Nathan Manning
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