Trump Says Google Is Rigged, Despite Its Denials. What Do We Know About How It Works

Google says that revealing its formula would make it easier for people who try to game search results. There is already a cottage industry of people who specialize in search engine optimization, or S.E.O., and help companies gain greater visibility for their pages. With greater insight, the thinking goes, spam sites and advertisers could displace the most relevant pages from the top of search results.

But of course, Google has another reason for keeping its search engine formula secret: It’s proprietary. For the most part, Google has established its dominance in search because it did a better job of revealing the best answers to a given query. Google wants to keep its search algorithm from competitors, just as Coca-Cola doesn’t reveal its recipe.

Google said political ideology was not a factor in any aspect of its search results. Google said that whether a user is conservative or liberal is not part of the information collected by the company, and that it didn’t categorize web pages by political leanings.

However, the scrutiny over misinformation after the 2016 presidential election pushed Google to make a change to its search algorithm. At the time, Google found that 0.25 percent of its daily traffic linked to intentionally misleading, false or offensive information. It wanted to surface what it called more “authoritative” content in search results. The change drew complaints that it prompted a steep drop-off in traffic. But the organization that complained and all the sites whose traffic it cited leaned to the left.

It relies on an army of human “raters” to inform the quality of search results. Google has 10,000 raters spread around the world. They rate the quality of search results to determine whether the pages ranked first deliver expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

While the raters cannot directly change how Google’s search algorithm functions, their opinions can flag issues with specific web pages or blind spots in the search formula. Google publishes the guidelines used by the raters to determine search quality.

Not quite. When Google search was created, the search results were bare-bones — a list of 10 blue links. The main objective at the time was to deliver relevant results to get people out of Google as quickly as possible. That has changed significantly over the years. Instead of simply providing links, Google is packing more information onto its web pages — deepening the tension between publishers and other services, like the review site Yelp, that rely on Google to direct traffic to their sites. Google has argued that users go to Google for more than just links — they go for information.

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