How Google Works

Created on 02/05/2013

In order to understand optimisation and the myths that SEO companies have built around the process, it helps to understand how Google works. Google has three very simple, seperate processes - crawling, indexing and query processing.

Google's web crawling robot finds and retrieves individual pages, which it passes to the indexer. If the crawler locates links on pages, it adds them to a queue for retrieval at a later point. This methodology is referred as deep crawling and because of its scale, explains how Google can cover broad reaches of the Internet as well as indexing entire websites. The issues faced are duplication and revisit timescales. With millions of simultaneous page requests the crawler has to be able to compare addresses to avoid unnecessary processing and must determine the frequency to re-crawl a page so that information in the indexer is up to date. The later is referred to as "fresh crawls" and is determined by the rate at which popular pages change content.

However the most important question is "what determines the order in which these pages are displayed on the query results page?"

Google Query Processor
Using the Google search tool and its advanced features is second nature to most of us, however of most value to web designers and website owners is being able to influence the order of results displayed. With over 200 elements which determine this order, often good practice and meeting the main requirements is the best way to influence page rankings. In the same way that good practice can improve page ranking, certain optimisation practices can have a negative effect and result in the suspension of the website.

How to improve website ranking
Firstly it is important not to lose sight of the basics. Often too much emphasis is based on the hope that a random new customer using random search parameters will find a website and become a new major client. If a significant proportion of new business is generated on the Internet then online advertising and pay per click are mostly likely to be the best solution rather than just search engine optimisation to increase new business. However, if the website is a key but just one of many marketing strands then by following a number of simple steps it is possible to improve page ranking at minimal cost.

There is just one simple question:
"What are the keywords new clients would use to find you in a Google search?"

Then follow these website optimisation steps with the guidance of your website design company:

  • Link and be linked to as many legitimate sources as possible
  • Use keywords in Title tags
  • Update the home page frequently
  • Use <h1> html tags to emphasise page content headings
  • Repeat keywords frequently on your pages (density)
  • Make graphics search engine friendly
  • Add some <meta> data
  • Have a robot.txt file
  • Link to a text-based site map from the home page
  • Register the business on Google Maps

Google constantly changes its indexing priorities and so optimisation is a constant process which requires regular attention. There are many ways to pay for priority listings with adverts and per-per-click, for example, however with a little attention and support from an experienced website design company high ranks can often be achieved without cost.

Graham Hughes
Director, Sygnet Interactive