Google Made 4,500 Improvements In 2020

Google may be on a mission to make the world's information open and accessible, but it also has been pushing for transparency -- as much transparency as possible without giving away too many secrets on how the company operates search and its other businesses. There is an underlying mission. 

It's not only good for its advertising business, but to prove to policymakers worldwide that it can play nice with competitors and other types of industries.  

On Monday, the company relaunched its websites to help people understand how Google Search works, and how the team improves and designs its service.

The fully redesigned How Search Works website explains the ins and outs of Search. How the company approaches the big, philosophical questions, along with the niche details, but it doesn’t give away ranking or algorithm secrets. 

For geekier stuff, tune into SEO Office Hours hosted by John Mueller, Google’s search advocate based in Zurich.



In one of his most recent episodes, he takes questions and makes recommendations around branded names, how a new site should rank for head term keywords, and how to manage disavowed files for content from someone who passed away. It ran on August 20.

Google’s redesigned website first launched in 2016, and since then, millions of people have used it to discover more about how Search works. The updates add new information, easier to navigate options, bookmark information, and way to find links to additional resources.

The website provides a window into what happens from the moment someone starts typing in the search bar to the moment the engine returns search results.

The site includes stats about 2020, when Google ran:

  • 4,887 launches in search results
  • 17,323 live traffic experiments
  • 383,605 search quality tests
  • 62,937 side-by-side experiments

There are details about how Google’s ranking systems sorts through hundreds of billions of web pages and other content in its Search index, analyzing factors like meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context. Google made 4,500 improvements in 2020.

Don’t get your hopes up. It doesn’t provide detailed information around algorithms and RankBrain, but it does delve into how Ben Gomes, SVP of Google Search, became interested in information, and finding ways to reduce the time it takes to find it. Google now measures search in fraction of a second.

Pandu Nayak, head of search ranking at Google, does step in to talk about ranking. It’s his team’s job to find the pages from a query that people find useful without returning the entire internet based on a query.

I used Google Search for the first time around 1998, but before that it was Lycos. There’s wasn’t much to the page, just mostly lines of type

In the Gates building at Stanford, room 300-and-something, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, wearing matching polo shirts, announced the company’s mission in the summer of 1999 -- to organize the world’s information.

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