The Science Behind How Google Works

The Science Behind How Google Works

As you’ll find in your Library and Information Science studies, an important component of being a librarian is the ability to find and produce reliable, accurate information for those who need it. Research is integral to the librarian’s role, and how we do it has certainly changed in the age of the Internet and Google. The World Wide Web and its leading search engine are now common and useful mediums that we all use to find the information we need. But how does it work? What is the science behind Google?


Google has several algorithms in place that determine the type of information that will be delivered based on each searcher’s query. The goal is to deliver high quality content quickly, and new algorithms are constantly being released to come closer to accomplishing it. Try to imagine finding relevant information without a quick online search to point you in the right direction, and you’ll instantly see how useless the online world would be without keyword-driven guidance. Though the specifics are proprietary, this overview will give you a basic idea of how Google functions.

Dispatching the Crawlers

Google uses crawlers (called “bots”) to scan the web, exploring various web pages and indexing them for its massive database. These crawlers follow links from one page to another, eventually retrieving enormous amounts of information. Webmasters can elect not to allow these crawlers to visit their sites, but this will prevent Google from seeing and indexing (which we’ll cover next) the information on their websites.

Indexing the Information

When you type something into Google, your query is then matched with the endless amounts of information in Google’s index. As the bots crawl the web, the information they find on each website is carefully indexed so that searchers can find content that is relevant to their queries. The indexing process changes regularly to keep information fresh. Google currently uses more than 200 factors to index web pages.

Ranking Pages

Common search terms can yield millions of results. For instance, if you type in “Dog Training,” Google returns approximately 281 million pages. Of those pages, only a handful of results show on the first page where most people will click-through to get more information.

Google’s PageRank algorithm plays a role in determining the order in which Google results appear. PageRank is determined by the longevity of the web page, the number and quality of incoming links, and the location and frequency of related keywords.

Google constantly updates its algorithms to fight spam and provide quality results for users. As of March 2014, Google held 87.1 percent of the mobile search market. With 11.944 billion monthly searches, Google is constantly altering the “science” of its process to serve better and more relevant results to users.

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