New Insight on How Google’s Algorithm Works

The House Judiciary Committee hearing, “Facebook, Google and Twitter: Examining the Content Filtering Practices of Social Media Giants”, took place this Tuesday.

The tech giants have discussed the social responsibility, including fighting against disinformation, terrorist content, and hate speech. They also underlined their struggle when it comes to choosing what to take action against.

In her testimony, Juniper Downs, global head of public policy and government relations at YouTube, revealed interesting facts about how Google’s algorithm works.

1. Handling Queries

Downs stated that Google Search had come a long way since it was started back in 1998 but the goal remains the same – to provide users with the most relevant information from trustworthy sources.  

She emphasized that Google Search handles trillions of queries a year and 15% of the daily searches have never been seen before. Usually, such queries are related to daily events and trending news.

In order for Google to offer useful results for such queries, the ranking systems analyze what users are searching for and what information web pages contain.

“We analyze search queries, rank useful pages, and consider context (such as location and language), to return relevant and useful information”, said Downs at the hearing.

In fact, RankBrain was initially created exclusively to handle those 15% queries and interpret what people submit to find any information that might not contain the exact words that were searched for.

Should you optimize for RankBrain?

SEO statistics show that RankBrain is the third most influential search ranking factor. What is more, Google is set to process 100% search queries using RankBrain. So, should you optimize for it?

Most marketers believe that as long as your site is optimized for regular algorithms, it doesn’t require specific optimization for RankBrain. Well, they aren’t far from the truth.

Unlike the classic algorithms we’re used to, RankBrain works to understand better the queries, especially the complex queries or the ones that have never been seen before, based on the searcher’s intent. Bottom line is – optimizing specifically for it could be a waste of time.

New Insight on How Google’s Algorithm Works

2. Experiments and Updates to Google’s Algorithm

“Every year we make thousands of improvements to Search to improve the quality of results for the wide range of queries Google sees every day, said Juniper Downs.

In 2017 only, Google ran more than 270,000 experiments, or approximately 740 a day, with trained Search Quality Evaluators who come from different backgrounds and live user tests.

Over 2,400 of these experiments resulted with improvements to search algorithms. This means that there are averagely seven algorithm updates every day. Although some of them are minor and can go unnoticed, they tend to improve the search results for users all around the world.

How to keep up with the algorithm updates?

Each algorithm update has a potential impact on your websites optimization strategy. However, it’s almost impossible to keep track of every single update on your own.

Google has warned SEO professionals that some third-party tools designed to monitor algorithm updates are often inaccurate.

So, how can you monitor the changes and which tools to use? Here are our suggestions:

You can use the Inside Search blog which is undoubtedly the most accurate source of news and information about algorithm updates.

MozCast, the Google Algorithm weather forecast, is also an excellent source which gives information regarding the impact algorithms have on the web.

Finally, if you want to gain a comprehensive perspective on all updates, you’ll hardly find a better source than the SEOmoz Algorithm Change History.


Google’s algorithm continues to evolve. We aim to provide you with new and relevant insight into what is happening in this ever-changing field to help you prepare better for what’s coming.


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