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Norbert Vercauteren
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How does the Google search engine work?

How to use Google's search engine? How does the algorithm work? In this blog we will go deeper into it.

How does Google search and rank your search results?

In order to make better use of the Google search engine, it is good to have some insight into how it works. The Google search engine works with algorithms. An algorithm is nothing more than a series of consecutive steps that, according to fixed instructions, must be taken to achieve a desired goal from an initial state. Google works with about 250 algorithms. Only about 150 are known how they work.

Larry Page

An important algorithm with which the Google search engine works is the PageRank algorithm, named after Larry Page one of the designers of the PageRank. The PageRank ranks the results of a search, i.e. your search, by importance. It measures the importance of a web page on the basis of the number of times it is linked from other web pages. These are the so-called backlinks. Google does everything in its power not to include fake pages in the PageRank. Fake pages are pages without content, which are only meant to link to a real page, so that it scores higher in the ranking to be found. In the past, backlinks could also be purchased. Nowadays? Google is doing everything in its power to combat this phenomenon as well.

As indicated, the PageRank algorithm is important when ranking the search results. However, it is only one of the many factors that Google takes into account to make this ranking. The exact operation and impact of the algorithms used by Google is kept secret and difficult for outsiders to understand. That is why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) exists as a separate discipline in website design.

Google works with about 250 algorithms. The operation of only about 150 is known.
Best time to post on Instagram Google

Important observation

Apparently, it is not the direct assessment of a website's content quality that ensures a top ranking in search results. Rather, it is indirect parameters that suggest that a website is good, which are measured and statically processed in order to arrive at a ranking.

What follows are all indirect parameters that are measured and through Google's algorithms ensure a top place in the search results:

  • The more a website is visited, the better it should be.
  • The longer visitors stay on a website, the better it should be.
  • The more pages of a website are viewed, the better it should be.
  • If only the home page of a website is viewed, that's a drawback.
  • The more other websites refer to a certain website (backlinks), the better Google assesses this.
  • If a website is properly secured, that is a plus, if not a minus.
  • If a website has a good sitemap, sufficient content, the keywords are well chosen, these are a plus...

What Google does for you

Before searching the internet through Google, it's also good to know that Google does a number of things for you.

What does Google do for you?

  • Recognise the language of the keywords and only display search results in this language.
  • While entering search terms, Google makes suggestions. Google remembers your previous searches and will place them in the suggestions.
  • Sort the found web pages by relevance based on your keywords (according to Google algorithms).
  • In case of spelling errors in the keywords or when entering unknown keywords, Google makes suggestions.
  • Display the number of results and the number of seconds
  • At the bottom of each result page, suggest 8 related searches
  • Conveniently use your location to perform your searches.
Google search result page

The least effective search method

The least effective search method is to enter one or more search terms quickly. In this way you say to Google: "Find me web pages that contain my search terms, the order and location are not important". Google then searches for all web pages that fully orapproximately match your search and displays them, ordered by relevance. The latter is an interpretation that the Google algorithm makes based on your search terms. Whether this ranking satisfies what you wanted to find with your search is not self-evident and depends on the quality of the search you gave Google.

As a result, you often get millions or thousands of web pages. Usually websites are viewed from the first results page and at best some from the second. Websites of the 3° results page and followers are hardly opened yet.

Practical exercise 1:

You want to know if exercising is healthy in later life.

Enter and see if you find what you're looking for:

  1. sports (50,700,000 results)
  2. sports age (7,790,000 results)
  3. sports later in life (345,000 results)
  4. sports later in life healthy (916,000 results)
  5. sports later age healthy pancreas (34,600 results found, only 36 are shown)


Assignment 4 has more hits than assignment 3. You wouldn't expect this at first sight. This is because Google also selects websites that, as mentioned above, roughly match your search terms. Approximately, for example, healthier instead of healthy or latest instead of later may have been included in the search results of sites that contain 2 of the 3 or 4 search terms, etc. For example, for search 5 in the first three results, the search term that does not appear on the found web page will be struck through under the result. This means that only 4 of the 5 search terms appear in the selected websites. Google claims to have found 386,000 results, but displays 4 pages with a total of 36 results and then displays the message: " Some results that are very similar to the 36 displayed have been omitted in order to display the most relevant results. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results ".

Google advanced search page

Word for word is much better

As indicated above, by far the most common, but also the least effective search method is simply entering one or a few keywords. If you do this with age sport healthy you will get 12.200.000 results that meet or somewhat resemble your assignment. Suppose you don't want to include those that 'look like it' in the results. . . You want all three words to be spelled exactly, somewhere on the webpage, neither place nor order is important. Then you go to Tools and select word by word (illustrate... ) The number of web pages found is then still 170. But you are sure that all three keywords appear on the web page.

Google also ranks here according to relevance . But you will notice that the selected webpages, including those from the last results page, (here page 17) contain the three keywords, with a good chance of finding useful information for you. As a result, you will also be more inclined to view websites that are further down the list of results.

On the last page you will find at the bottom the number of selected results and a message from Google: " Some results that are very similar to the 170 displayed have been omitted to show the most relevant results. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results".

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