How Does Googles Algorithm Work

Recently at the Zen Agency, we’ve been part of meetings and phone calls with clients and potential clients discussing all things digital market. One thing that stood out was the lack of understanding some business owners have of Google’s SEO algorithm and how It works, so we decided to create a guide to show how Google works.

How Does Googles Algorithm Work

There are three stages of the Googles algorithm. This algorithm works on every page in Google’s index. What is indexing? This is when Google lists all the web pages that they know about. When Google visits your site, it detects new and updated pages and updates Google’s index.

The three stages are:

  • Crawling
  • Indexing
  • Serving search results

It’s worth noting that not all web pages will make it through all 3 stages, some will drop off at each stage.


The first phase of the algorithm and otherwise known as “URL discovery”. This is when Google uses its “website crawlers” (also known as “spiders”) to crawl the web to look for new or updated websites. Once they’ve discovered a new website or updated webpage, they will add it to its list of well-known pages. There are ways that you can help a “crawler” find your page:

  • Internal links - the more links a page has to it, the easier it is for Google to locate it
  • Sitemaps submitted to Google Search Console
  • Manual page submission in GSC

The second phase of the “Crawling” stage is “rendering” this refers to Google analysing the page to understand what's on the webpage. However, this depends on whether Google’s “Crawlers” can access the page. There are a few ways that prevent crawlers from doing their job:

  • Disallowed for crawling by the website owner
  • “Robot.txt” code that prevents access
  • Webpage requires a log-in
  • Network issues

In order to rank for SEO, a page must be crawled and indexed.  


Google's next step is to try to understand the context of the page before adding it to its index. It does this by looking closely at the text, key tags and attributes like <title> and alt attributes like images, and other media files on the page.

At this stage, Google looks to determine if a page is original and not duplicated from another webpage. Google will collect signals about the page to establish the contents of the web pages:

  • Language of website
  • Country the content is local to
  • Usability of the page

However, your page isn’t guaranteed to be indexed. If your page isn’t indexed, it could be due to:

  • Low-quality content
  • Code preventing indexing (Noindex)
  • Website design makes it difficult.

In these first two stages, it is crucial that your technical SEO is to a good standard and that your sitemap, headers etc are configured properly.


Serving Search Results (ranking stage)

The final step is to determine which of these pages is the most relevant and helpful for a particular search query. How does it do this? When you search a query, Google will look at its index (list) for matching pages. Google then provides the list of web pages It believes are the best quality and most relevant to the user. This is determined by a number of factors for example, based on the user’s device, language and location.

If your page doesn’t show in Google’s search results it could be because:

  • A webpage is low on quality content
  • Irrelevant content to the search query
  • Code preventing it from being indexed


In conclusion, it’s vital for your website’s SEO rankings to meet these 3 stages. If Google can’t index your page, then you won’t rank in search engine results meaning you will struggle with organic traffic. 


Are you looking for help to optimise your SEO? The Zen Agency has a small team of SEO specialists who can help businesses optimise their SEO and increase their web traffic. Contact the Zen agency on 0141 229 1333 or fill out our quick enquiry form on our website and a member of the team will be in touch to discuss your marketing needs.


The Zen Agency are specialists in all things digital, whether it be website and app development or digital design. We can help with creating a digital marketing strategy, content creationsocial media marketingPPCSEO and videography


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