Blog Post

30 May 2013

What Really Happens When You Google Something?

Google something, anything that comes to your mind… Now multiply this by billions of times each and every day and you can’t even start imagining what really happens when you hit the “search” button. In short: magic. But obviously magic is not a proper technical term so let’s try to dig deeper.

We’ve come to take Google for granted, yet what happens behind the scenes is beyond extraordinary. We all have heard about their massive data centers (36 at the last count) scattered all over the globe and their obsession with speed and performance. There is a fair chance that you use Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps or any other of the many, many services they offer for free. But the thing is they don’t. Their currency is data and nobody beats Google at monetizing it.

So, what really happens when you Google something? There are tens of thousands of more or less accurate answers, educated guesses, half truths and myths. Google seems to be providing an answer here but it is not very revealing. The truth is that so much depends on their search algorithm: who ranks higher, who gets more traffic, and who makes more money. It is not surprising that Google doesn’t reveal too much and is very secretive about it. Its algorithm is in fact what makes it so great. Making it public would definitely make the search results less trustworthy and Google would run the risk of being played. Hence the constant changes, tweaks and updates… Keeping the status quo provides a level playing field for everyone.

The following infographic by PPC Blog attempts to organize accessible knowledge on how Google’s search engine works and how complex it is. Nobody ever said that organizing the world’s information will be easy. It’s mind boggling when you realize all this happens in a split of a second. Think about it next time you Google something. No search after this will be the same ever again.