How Google Works

The New York Times ran a and how the search engine works. The article is an excellent overview of some of the things the search engine considers when returning a page of links after a user has submitted their query.

For some queries, for instance, Google uses a "freshness" factor to provide links to pages that are more topical. Their "solution revolves around determining whether a topic is ‘hot.’ If news
sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model
figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current
information. The model also examines Google’s own stream of billions of
search queries, which Mr. Singhal believes is an even better monitor of
global enthusiasm about a particular subject."

That confirms the phenomenon I noticed several years ago that Google seemed to favor blog posts for certain search queries. Because blogs are generally updated regularly, they are inherently fresh.

More interestingly, though, is that a part Google’s search ranking formula is examining it’s own historical data. It seems as if Google is creating a "self aware" network that can learn from itself.

But it also can learn a lot from you, as Mashable‘s Adam Ostrow points out in his post, . If you use Google’s various services, the search company can read your mail (via ) and examine your contacts (Gmail, again), eavesdrop on your IM sessions (), determine what you are interested in ( and ), examine your video viewing habits (), read your schedule (),documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (), track your movements ( & ) . The search engine knows your blog reading habits (), your blog writing habits (), your blog’s readers (), and your blog’s Internet traffic () and revenue (). The company can examine your purchases  ().

If the company is indeed building a self-aware network, it will have plenty of sets of data from which to learn; considering all that, it should come as no surprise that the search engine is so accurate.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.