They say falling in love takes a fifth of a second. And there’s also something else that happens a billion times a day that also takes a fifth of a second: a Google search. But have you ever wondered what happens behind the simple white homepage? What happens in the blink of an eye – how does Google search actually work?
It’s a mixture of science, creativity, experimentation and cold, hard Maths. Google has many unique features and products running behind the scenes, with search available on 146 interface languages on 181 international domains.
Every day, hundreds of millions of translations are processed and free translation is offered in 64 different languages. Google indexes billions of web pages and there are billions of searches on the search engine a day; but type [West Ham], for example and in a flash – 0.14 seconds in this case — 2,300,000 results are returned. So what exactly happens behind the scenes in these 0.14 seconds?
Search engines such as Google use software robots – known as Web crawlers, or spiders – which ‘crawl’ through the World Wide Web, moving from link to link to find web pages and taking the data on them back to Google’s servers.
Google, then sorts through all these returns, to try and make sense of it and potentially answer a user’s query – every query has to travel on average 1,500 miles to get the answer back to the user! Google index is one of the biggest on the Web, and 1 million computing hours have been spent building it so far.
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