Google “mostly” uses the same search algorithms for every language, but there are some algorithms that are only used on specific languages.
Google uses the same search algorithms for most languages, but there are certain cases where a language requires a different algorithm to interpret the queries.
This is stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller in response to a Reddit thread titled: “Does Google use the same algorithm for every language?”
The thread goes on to ask about ranking factors and SEO practices, and how they may differ from one language to another.
More specifically, the thread reads:
“The BERT update had to do with semantics, so it got me wondering if it would be the same in every language. Which then made me think of other ranking factors, and how their importance might differ among different languages/cultures. Anyway, I want to ask anybody with experience in SEO in another language, if you’ve found any differences between ranking factors?”
Mueller doesn’t touch on the ranking factors aspect, but does address 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’s really made up of “lots & lots” of algorithms.
Some of those algorithms are used for searches in all languages, while some are used only for individual languages.
Mueller says, for example, that some languages don’t separate words with spaces. That makes it necessary to use a different algorithm than what Google uses for languages that do use spaces.
“Mostly. Search uses lots & lots of algorithms. Some of them apply to content in all languages, some of them are specific to individual languages (for example, some languages don’t use spaces to separate words — which would make things kinda hard to search for if Google assumed that all languages were like English).”
How Google Search Understands Content In Different Languages
On the topic of searching Google in different languages, it’s worth noting a point that was brought up during the Google Search Central SEO 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’t detect when a piece of content in one language is the same, or similar, to a piece of content written in another language.
Google relies on content publishers to identify that multiple pieces of content are equivalent when they’re written in different languages.
That’s accomplished via the hreflang HTML attribute, Mueller explains:
“… we basically use the hreflang to understand which of these URLs are equivalent from your point of view. And we will swap those out…
… I think it’s 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 can’t determine equivalency of different language content on its own, it sheds more light onto why Google has certain algorithms for certain languages.
Source: Matt G. Southern, Jan 20, 2022