As part of our Beginning SEO blog series, we are providing the basic search definitions from Google. There are many more, but these came from a great article explaining what algorithms are and why Google uses them to deliver your search results. These algorithms, or mathematical equations used to determine rankings, change daily in order to fight spam and improve search result quality for their users.

Morgan Biggs, lead SEO in New Orleans at Webtyde Digital Marketing, follows industry news and analytic trends on a daily basis so clients don’t have to worry about algorithm changes. We update SEO and search engine marketing campaigns for all our clients based on Google best practice recommendations and industry algorithm changes.

Here are some definitions to know when using Google or other search engines.

Search Definitions


Displays immediate answers and information for things such as the weather, sports scores and quick facts.


Predicts what you might be searching for. This includes understanding terms with more than one meaning.


Finds results out of millions of books, including previews and text, from libraries and publishers worldwide.


Shows the latest news and information. This includes gathering timely results when you’re searching specific dates.

Google Instant

Displays immediate results as you type.


Shows you image-based results with thumbnails so you can decide which page to visit from just a glance.


Uses systems for collecting and storing documents on the web.

Knowledge Graph

Provides results based on a database of real world people, places, things, and the connections between them.


Includes improvements designed specifically for mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones.


Includes results from online newspapers and blogs from around the world.

Query Understanding

Gets to the deeper meaning of the words you type.


Provides features like “Advanced Search,” related searches, and other search tools, all of which help you fine-tune your search.


Reduces the amount of adult web pages, images, and videos in your results.

Search Methods

Creates new ways to search, including “search by image” and “voice search.”

Site & Page Quality

Uses a set of signals to determine how trustworthy, reputable, or authoritative a source is. (One of these signals is PageRank, one of Google’s first algorithms, which looks at links between pages to determine their relevance.)


Shows small previews of information, such as a page’s title and short descriptive text, about each search result.


Identifies and corrects possible spelling errors and provides alternatives.


Recognizes words with similar meanings.

Translation and Internationalization

Tailors results based on your language and country.

Universal Search

Blends relevant content, such as images, news, maps, videos, and your personal content, into a single unified search results page.

User Context

Provides more relevant results based on geographic region, Web History, and other factors.


Shows video-based results with thumbnails so you can quickly decide which video to watch.