How Does Google Work? | Reader's Digest

How Does Google Work?

It's not magic, but the tech wizardry behind the world's favorite search engine may still amaze you.

By Damon Beres
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    Image by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    There are 60 trillion webpages online.

    That's about 8,571 pages for every person on Earth. Google crawls each one by following links from site to site.

    Photo by Kham Tran via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    Google fields more than 100 billion searches each month.

    Its Googlebot basically mimics the same web-browsing behavior you do, where the programs "chain" web pages together and then relay info back to Google.

    Photo by Trey Ratcliff via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Sixteen percent of a day's searches are completely new.

    You're teaching Google, in other words, how to best present the right page for the right search.

    Photo by Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Google's index is over 100 million gigabytes large.

    That's well beyond the storage capability of any one hard drive; it's actually over 16,000 times larger than the biggest hard drive available to consumers.

    Photo by MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    Proprietary algorithms serve up the pages you want.

    There is a set of formulas ("things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank," according to Google) to deliver results from the index.

    Photo by bradleypjohnson via Flickr (Prev
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  • Search data travels about 1,500 miles (two times the length of Texas).

    And it happens in an instant.

    Illustration by Leon Nicholls via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    More than 500 million people have joined Google+.

    And they may influence your search results. If you're logged into the site's social network, those might display different if the links have been recommended by people in your circles.

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