The site was first launched in 2016 and has now been updated with up-to-date information, easier navigation and sections, and links to further resources.
“The website gives you a window into what happens from the moment you start typing in the search bar to the moment you get your search results. It gives an overview of the technology and work that goes into organizing the world’s information, understanding what you’re looking for and then connecting you with the most relevant, helpful information.”
The portal covers Google’s approach to “the big philosophical questions” as well as the nitty gritty of how it actually all works, with sections on:
Organizing information: Crawling, indexing, and the different types of information indexed beyond just web pages
Ranking results: The key factors Google’s algorithm uses in determining which results are returned: meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context
Rigorous testing: Launches, live traffic experiments, search quality tests and side-by-side experiments.
Detecting spam: Tackling spam through automated systems and manual removals, plus how creators can appeal issues.
Features: The various formats used to present information in the most useful way, for example, the Knowledge Graph, maps or Featured Snippets.
Google is constantly working on improving Search, making smaller or larger changes every day. There were 4,500 such improvements made to Search in 2020.
Google says it endeavours to provide as much information as possible about changes to Search, giving notice and advice where there is actionable information site owners can use. However, not every detail can be shared, otherwise bad actors would be able to game the system and evade the protections Google has against spam and low quality content.
How Search Works is a useful resource for anyone wanting to familiarise themselves with the details of Search. It is complemented by a series of video explainers which covers topics such as How Autocomplete Works, and How Ads Appear in Google Search.