Google uses the same search algorithms to more languages, but there are some cases where a language requires a different algorithm to interpret queries.
So says John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, in response to a Reddit thread titled: “Does Google use the same algorithm for each language? »
The thread goes on to ask about ranking factors and SEO practices, and how they can differ from language to language.
Specifically, the thread reads:
“The BERT update was about semantics, so I wondered if it would be the same in all languages. Which then got me thinking about other ranking factors and how important they might be. differ between languages/cultures. Anyway, I want to ask anyone with SEO experience in another language, if you found any differences between the ranking factors?”
Mueller does not discuss the aspect of ranking factors, but discusses the use of search algorithms in different languages.
Read his full response in the section below.
How Google Search Algorithms Vary By Language
While many refer to the Google search algorithm as a singular entity, it is actually made up of “many and many” algorithms.
Some of these algorithms are used for searches in all languages, while others are only used for individual languages.
Mueller says, for example, that some languages don’t separate words with spaces. This makes it necessary to use a different algorithm than that used by Google for languages that use spaces.
“Most. Search uses many algorithms. Some of them apply to content in all languages, some of them are specific to individual languages (e.g. some languages don’t use spaces to separate words – which would make things a bit difficult to search if Google assumed all languages were like English).”
How Google Search Understands Content in Different Languages
When it comes to searching Google in different languages, it’s worth noting a point that was brought up during Google Search Central SEO’s office hours hangout last week.
Mueller was asked how Google determines when one page is similar to another when each page has content in a different language.
In short, Google can not detect when a content item in one language is the same or similar to a content item written in another language.
Google relies on content publishers to identify that multiple pieces of content are equivalent when written in different languages.
This is accomplished via the HTML hreflang attribute, Mueller explains:
“…we basically use hreflang to figure out which of these URLs are equivalent from your point of view. And we’ll swap them…
… I think it is impossible for us to understand that this specific content is equivalent for another country or another language. Like, there are so many local differences that are always possible.
Knowing that Google cannot determine the equivalence of different linguistic content on its own, it further sheds light on why Google has certain algorithms for certain languages.
Source: Google Search Central on YouTube
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