If you are anything like the Make Me Local team, you would be lost without having Google readily at your fingertips.  In fact, the average person conducts 3 to 4 searches on Google every single day. Furthermore, Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day which equates to (on average) over 40,000 search queries every second (Internetlivestats, 2019).  They are admirable statistics, but have you ever wondered how Google manages to deliver results to so many searches, within a matter of seconds?  We take a closer look at the principles around how Google’s clever cyber brain works. 

Now, nobody really knows the intricate details around Google’s algorithm, that is a closely guarded Google secret that even the goblins at Gringotts would not be privy too.  However, SEO experts have managed to work out the principles surrounding how it works and it’s all to do with crawling, indexing, and ranking.  

What is crawling?

Essentially, crawling describes how Google finds new web pages and is the core concept around Google’s algorithm.  Right now, Google has about 130,000,000,000,000 (130 trillion) web pages in its index.  Every time you search for something on Google it needs to find these pages, search them, and then rank them on how important and relevant they are to your particular search – all within seconds!

Google crawls web pages using what’s called spiders.  These ‘spiders’ will enter a page on your website, crawl around and search your pages and then exit your site before moving on to visit all the webpages that link to your website, and so on.

Indexing web pages

By crawling and searching web pages, Google stores the pages it has found in its index (a bit like a gigantic book that lists all the different pages within it).  Google then has to organise these pages based on how important it thinks the pages are.  In SEO terms, the organisation of webpages is based on how much authority your webpages have.  Google actually scores your web pages based on their authority (how credible and relevant you are to a particular search).   It is important to understand that not all pages on your website are the same; some pages are more important than others, some pages will have better content, some pages will have more authority etc.

For the purpose of understanding how Google searches and ranks you just need to understand the authority of your website is mainly calculated by considering how many backlinks you have (links from other web pages back to yours) and how far those links are from seed sites.

What is a seed site?  I hear you ask

There is no definitive, published list, but SEO experts recognise these to be huge, well written and presented websites that thousands of people link to already, particularly websites of similar status.  Examples might include the BBC, The Wall Street Journal, Wikipedia, and CNN to name a few.  Google loves these kinds of websites and will award their web pages (particularly their homepage) with a near perfect authority score.

Now, a direct link from a seed site to your website will mean that a very large proportion of their authority will be passed to you.  However, if the seed site is linked to other websites before it reaches your website, the authority will be lower.  The authority will diminish the further away you get within the link chain between your site and the seed site.

It is important to understand authority when talking about Google and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because it is the authority score that affects where Google ranks you in its results.

Ranking your website

We know that there are hundreds of factors that determines how Google ranks websites and although Google will never officially tell us what they are, experts in the SEO world have managed to fathom what factors weigh more heavily.  To reiterate; links from other websites (backlinks) combined with how far those links are from seed sites, seem to be high up on the list of ranking factors.

To summarise, Google is constantly trying to crawl, analyse, index, score and build a picture for how authoritative each web page is and how far away each page is from the original (seed) site.  The premise of Google’s algorithm also helps us to explain to clients why adding new, well written content to your site on a regular basis is beneficial to your company website.  The more content you add, the more content Google has crawl, store, and score to help answer people’s search queries.  The result?  An improved chance of ranking higher in Google’s search findings.