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Video: Trillions of Questions, No Easy Answers

Back in October 2020, Google added a new video on YouTube called “Trillions of Questions, No Easy Answers: A (home) movie about how Google Search works”. To date, this has received nearly 91 million views, and – if you have an hour to spare – it provides a great insight into Google’s function, development and processes in improving search results.

You can view the video here:

If you want to have a better understanding about Google and the role it plays in information retrieval and sharing, this would be a highly recommended video to watch. It’s creative and sometimes amusing, but also explains the role that Google plays, and the ways that they are constantly developing the search results to make it a better tool for users. It features some of the key figures in the Google search programme, as well as software engineers working ‘at the coalface’ to make results better.

Based on the constant need of humans to find information and improve knowledge, the video shows how Google continues to follow its core aim to collect and share all the information that’s available online, equally to people around the world. Including some old footage from the early days of Google, it covers the challenges in achieving this aim and the ongoing evolution of search to constantly improve this access in a constantly changing world.

Some of the interesting stats that are shared in the video are:
– 15% of queries made every day are new
– 40% of pages indexed in Europe over the previous 12 months were viewed as spam
– changes are made to the Google search algorithm around 6 times a day
– these changes are based on hundreds of thousands of experiments made each year.

The video explains in simple terms the process of online search, and features one of the data centers where Google collects and stores information from the constantly increasing number of web pages. It also explains the role of advertising (Google Ads) to help fund the system as well as helping businesses benefit from the search market.

It shows how changes being made to the search results are constantly being tested between the current and proposed rankings, and how the team of search quality raters will review and provide feedback on results, so that the engineers can refine the programming and make sure that some gains in relevancy don’t also include worse results in other areas.

There is also a section on how Google has had to tackle ranking results or search suggestions that have been controversial, and how they are use the EAT model – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – to generate the best results.

The video ends with the approval of the DeepRank project (also know as BERT) which uses developments in machine learning and natural language processing to improve the way results reflect the understanding of the way people may be searching. This was approved and launched at the end of 2019 and the video covers a small part of the development and introduction of this significant algorithm change.

It’s a good piece of PR by Google, but for anyone wanting to understand the inner workings of the company and how search works, or is evolving, this is a good place to start.

As ever, if you have any questions about search – and the impact of these developments on SEO – please contact us for a discussion.