Think about the last time you searched for something. There’s a good chance that you turned to Google as billions of other people around the world do. In fact, it’s estimated that Google now processes over three billion searches every day and that figure only continues to grow.
Whether you’re looking for product reviews or researching local businesses, you get relevant results in a fraction of a second. Simply click (or tap) on a page to get the information you’re looking for. It’s truly an impressive feat that has taken billions of dollars and years of engineering to build. But have you ever wondered how Google search works?
Because understanding how Google ranks its search results enables you to better optimise your site – something definitely worth paying attention to if you’re a small business owner. Here we’ll take a look at how search works and ways you can use this information to boost your own rankings for target keywords.
HOW GOOGLE CRAWLS THE WEB
New websites and pages are constantly being added to Google’s immense search index through a process known as crawling. Automated bots called crawlers or Google bots scour the web starting with a list of pages from past crawls. The crawlers look at existing sites and follow the links on those pages. Then, key information about those pages such as title tags and even whether it’s optimised for mobile are added to the index.
Before you can drive traffic from Google, your site needs to be crawled first. If your site isn’t in the index then your target audience won’t even know your pages exist. It’s important to note that Google never accepts payment to crawl a site. You can actually submit a direct request but it can take up to a week or two.
Instead, you’re better off doing the following:
- Submit a sitemap: A sitemap is a list of all pages on your site. It won’t boost your rankings but it does allow search engines to crawl your pages. If you use WordPress, there are a number of plugins you can install that allow you to easily create a sitemap. Next, you’ll then want to submit your sitemap to Search Console.
- Build relevant links: Building links is a great way to get your site crawled and indexed. If your page is linked to from a popular site, you can expect the Google web crawlers to start crawling your site pretty quickly. Ways to build links include creating profiles on business directories and doing outreach with other sites.
How Google Delivers Results
Hundreds of billions – That’s the number of pages that are estimated to be in Google’s search index. Without some sort of ranking system, it would be an impossible task to find what you’re looking for. Just imagine trying to find a book in a library where everything is scattered around.
Google relies on complex algorithms that evaluate the intent behind your search and return relevant results based on that query. Other factors like location and timeliness are also taken into consideration. If you’re searching for “local weather”, you expect to see current weather updates in your city. Google knows that of course but the tricky part is delivering results for the billions of other queries that take place every day.
A large part of what the algorithms do is weigh hundreds of signals to determine which pages are most relevant for a search query. These include title tags, page speed, mobile-friendliness, site security, and more. Optimising these factors gives your site a better chance of ranking for target keywords.
Whether you sell products online or have a local storefront, you cannot afford to overlook the optimisation aspect of your site. Otherwise, you risk losing a competitive advantage to businesses in your industry who prioritise these key signals.