Google has published guidelines for website owners who would like to raise their rankings when using legitimate optimization consultants.

It has been hypothesized, and, allegedly, is the opinion of the owner of one business about which there have been numerous complaints, that negative publicity, for example, numerous consumer complaints, may serve as well to elevate page rank on Google Search as favorable comments.

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The order of search results returned by Google is based, in part, on a priority rank system called "Page Rank".

Google Search also provides many different options for customized search, using symbols to include, exclude, specify or require certain search behavior, and offers specialized interactive experiences, such as flight status and package tracking, weather forecasts, currency, unit and time conversions, word definitions, and more.

Prior to Universal search, a standard Google search would consist of links only to websites.

Universal search, however, incorporates a wide variety of sources, including websites, news, pictures, maps, blogs, videos, and more, all shown on the same search results page.

Previous keyword-based methods of ranking search results, used by many search engines that were once more popular than Google, would rank pages by how often the search terms occurred in the page, or how strongly associated the search terms were within each resulting page.

The Page Rank algorithm instead analyzes human-generated links assuming that web pages linked from many important pages are themselves likely to be important.

This field, called search engine optimization, attempts to discern patterns in search engine listings, and then develop a methodology for improving rankings to draw more searchers to their client's sites.

Search engine optimization encompasses both "on page" factors (like body copy, title elements, H1 heading elements and image alt attribute values) and Off Page Optimization factors (like anchor text and Page Rank).

In addition to Page Rank, Google, over the years, has added many other secret criteria for determining the ranking of pages on result lists, reported to be over 250 different indicators, the specifics of which are kept secret to keep spammers at bay and help Google maintain an edge over its competitors globally. Schmidt reaffirmed this during a 2010 interview with the Wall Street Journal: "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions, they want Google to tell them what they should be doing next." In February 2015 Google announced a major change to its mobile search algorithm which would favor mobile friendly over other websites.