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Search

Helping people and businesses learn how Search works

A visual representation of how Google Search works to organize information.

Every day, billions of people come to Google to search for questions big and small. Whether it’s finding a recipe, looking for a local coffee shop or searching for information on complex topics like health, civics or finance, Google Search helps you get the information you need -- when you need it. 

But part of accomplishing our mission also means making information open and accessible about how Google Search, itself, works. That’s why we’re transparent about how we design Search, how we improve it and how it works to get you the information you’re looking for. 

Like many of the topics you might search for on Google, Search can seem complicated -- but we make it easy to learn about. Here are a few ways you can get a better understanding of how Google Search works:

A one-stop shop

Today, we’re launching a fully-redesigned How Search Works website that explains the ins and outs of Search -- how we approach the big, philosophical questions, along with the nitty-gritty details about how it all works. 

We first launched this website in 2016, and since then, millions of people have used it to discover more about how Search works. Now, we've updated the site with fresh information, made it easier to navigate and bookmark sections and added links to additional resources that share how Search works and answer common questions.

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.

On the site, you can find details about how Google’s ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of web pages and other content in our Search index -- looking at factors like meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context -- to present the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second. And you can learn about how we go about making improvements to Search. (There have been 4,500 such improvements in 2020 alone!) As you’ll read about, we rigorously test these changes with the help of thousands of Search Quality Raters all around the world -- people who are highly trained using our extensive guidelines. These rater guidelines are publicly available, and they describe in great detail how Search works to surface great content.

Cartoon image depicting results testing

We're always testing changes to Search to provide you with the most helpful results.

Watch and learn

You also can watch our How Search Works video series, a set of easy-to-understand explainers about how Search connects you to helpful, relevant information. Here, you’ll find the answers to common questions like how Autocomplete works (no, it’s not mind-reading), how Google keeps you safe on Search, how ads appear in Search and more. 

And if you’re really in the mood to learn all about Search -- and the real people behind the scenes who are working hard to make it better every single day -- you can watch our “home movie,” “Trillions of Questions, No Easy Answers.” Grab your popcorn!

Trending worldwide

It’s also easy for you to get a view into what people are searching for around the world using Google Trends. For more than 15 years, we’ve made this tool publicly accessible for anyone to gain more insight into how people are using Search to find information. Google Trends is the largest publicly available data set, using anonymized search interest across different geographies to highlight trending topics, questions and societal shifts. You can think of it as a window into what the world is searching for on the web.

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Transparency for website creators

When it comes to the open web, we also invest heavily in helping site owners, publishers, businesses, creators and others succeed and get discovered on Search. At Google Search Central, creators can get expert advice from experienced webmasters, view over 1000+ educational videos, learn best practices for web development and discover many more tips to maximize their reach on Search. 

Every day, we make changes to make Search work better -- some small, some large. We work hard to give site owners and content producers ample notice and advice about changes where there’s actionable information they can use. While we strive to provide as much information as we can, we also have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our results and keep results as clean as possible from search spam.  That’s why, although we share a lot of information about Search updates, we can’t share every detail. Otherwise, bad actors would have the information they need to evade the protections we’ve put in place against deceptive, low-quality content.

Over the last two decades, Google Search has evolved tremendously, but one thing remains core to how we operate: transparency about our approach and commitment to providing universally accessible information to all. Explore our newly refreshed website to discover more as we continue to evolve.


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