What is Behind the Speed of Google's Search Engine?

Nov 2, 2007 • 10:37 am | comments (2) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine

When search engines parse through billions of websites to find results that are relevant, it's somewhat miraculous, to say the least. A WebmasterWorld thread asks, "how does Google do it?"

There are a few parts to this answer: the Google File System is "a scalable distributed file system for large distributed data-intensive applications. It provides fault tolerance while running on inexpensive commodity hardware, and it delivers high aggregate performance to a large number of clients."

Additionally, one member suspects that Google's entire index is stored in RAM (!!!), though that sounds pretty hard to believe and another member disputes this claim.

Other factors include datacenters throughout the world, a clean interface without too many graphics, and of course, the algorithm. In case you're not familiar with this element of computer science, a well-coded and well-executed algorithm can locate millions of entries in a short amount of disk accesses.

Even more, Google uses column-oriented databases (not row-oriented databases that most webmasters use), and according to another member, Google has eliminated middle-tier hosts and has its datacenters plugged in directly to the Internet like powerful ISPs. Their datacenters are strategically placed close to densely populated areas.

It's certainly cool how all these factors are contributing to the Google experience.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Webmasters Report November 2007 Google SERP Changes



11/02/2007 04:47 pm

I just started at Google in September so my memories of "before" are still kind of fresh. I assumed there was some simple, slick technology behind it all. In reality, it's not anything close: what drives the speed, the diversity (don't forget blogs, images, news, video, etc from universal search - all available within split-seconds) and (in my opinion) the relevancy of search are all the fantastic and smart employees at Google, working on constantly improving things and constantly creating new, groundbreaking technologies ("rocket science" seems like an understatement when you see some of that stuff) that do things on a scale that I never dreamed of before. Keep in mind how quickly the web is growing, to keep up with all of it and to provide results like that requires more than just a slick technology. What is required are constant changes, constant improvements, constant revolutions. I guess I'm skewed, but it doesn't change the awesomeness of their work :) .

Barry Schwartz

11/02/2007 04:49 pm

Your skewed. :) Kidding, I can't even imagine.

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