How Sites and Pages Rank in Search Engines

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    Searching the web is no small feat. According to Google, it is made up of more than 60 trillion individual pages, and that is growing every day. Google indexes and keeps track of those pages by “crawling” the web with its spiders, which follow each link to find what’s at the other end. These links are then made into an index, which measures more than 100 million gigabytes.

    But there are variables to these findings. Google is constantly writing and updating algorithms that help it search more effectively for the information being sought in a query. An algorithm also tries to anticipate what information you are looking for. Say you misspell the word “Mississippi” in a query; Google will figure you made a typo and look up the correct word. Or it may try to fill out your request as you type, to show you what other people have had success in their searches.

    Google ranks the results based on more than 200 criteria, including:

    • Freshness of the information
    • Quality of the site and page
    • Safeness of the page
    • User context
    • Translation
    • Previous search results

    Getting your page to show up high in these results is the key to search engine optimization. It’s highly desirable to be among the first few results, because most people don’t look through the pages and pages of information that is returned. They will scroll through the top few and then move on.

    Thus Google is a lot like a popularity contest. It shows you what people before you have clicked on and what others are linking to.

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