from google Gary Illyes shines a light on the process of Google search indexing, revealing how and what happens on the front lines to get there in the first place.
Gary Illyes is a webmaster trends analyst at the tech conglomerate, but also claims the incredibly cheerful title of Head of Sunshine and Happiness in the Company. Having worked in the company for nearly a decade now, as he joined in 2011, the company’s assistant is no stranger to how Google and its related products work. Illyes is also used to responding to user queries and digging deeper into the software side of things through online forums, making them the best possible choice for revealing how the enigmatic search engine works.
In an episode of the Search Off The Record podcast, which focused on the linguistic complexities of search-based selection, Illyes decides to take some time and explain how search results get to users. Google search indexing is apparently powered by three types of storage. To know:
1) HDD, which is the cheapest and therefore the slowest
2) SSD, which is even faster but way too expensive to manage
3) RAM, which is the most expensive and fastest to deliver results
Using the example of a document, Illyes explains that when building the index, storage is allocated based on how often users will search for a particular result. Thus, if the document in question is more likely to be searched by users, the index will assign it a faster storage type, thus appearing all the more easily for Internet users. It is a pragmatic and economical solution that guarantees user satisfaction with the engine.
Not content with a simple explanation, Gary Illyes goes on to give examples of how index data is stored. The results that can be searched every second require something fast, thus having a dedicated RAM memory for them. The fact that most of the index data is not stored on RAM or SSDs, but rather relies on hard drives as a cheaper alternative. A decision which, once again, makes perfect sense. Instead of buying RAM for an ever-expanding catalog of documentable data, it is better if faster storage is reserved only for the highest level of content sought. It’s rather fascinating to see the curtain drawn on what is essentially a daily routine for perhaps all souls who have ever wandered the internet.
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