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Information Literacy In Real Life (IL IRL)

How Does a Google Search Really Work?

Google is an amazing and powerful took that can help you find information. But have you ever thought about how Google always seems to know exactly what you're looking for, even when you're not sure yourself?

Google considers many factors when they are finding your results. Some of the factors Google considers include:

  • Your location: this is going to be most noticeable if you searched for something like "movie theatres" or "restaurants." Google is going to assume you are going to want results for places near you.
  • Your previous search history: Google will also look at your previous search history in order to find you results. Google pays attention to what kinds of sources you normally click on, and will tailor your results based on that.
  • Other people's searches: Google will consider what other people all over the world have searched in order to help you find results.

Google will rank your results for you based on these factors and give you the information that Google thinks you want. Google uses a complex series of programs called algorithms which analyze your previous activity in Google to figure out which sources to show you first.

If you always read or click on the same types of articles with the same subjects or viewpoints, Google is going to rank these results higher than others. This can make it difficult to find sources from other places/viewpoints that you don't normally read or click on. You can learn more about this topic, called Filter Bubbles, by checking out this video: Beware Online "Filter Bubbles" (TED talk).

To learn more about searching in Google (and how searching in Google differs from searching in a library database), check out the library's research guide on Google vs. Library Databases.