Google is the world’s largest search engine, processing more than 1.2 trillion searches annually. Yet, even this technology titan came from relatively humble beginnings. It all begins with the company’s founders, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, who met while studying computer science at Stanford University. Their research interest, of course, was Web search.
When Brin and Page were students, the Web search world was a bit of a Wild West. Their paper The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, points out the prevalence of claims that then-current search engines were selling favorable search engine positions to those listed in their indexes. This was hardly the objective standard the Web needed!
With PageRank, Page and Brin Blaze a Trail
When all is said and done, what was the single biggest contribution of Page and Brin? The development of PageRank, a sophisticated mathematical formula (“algorithm”) for ranking Web pages and displaying them in response to queries. The main idea behind PageRank was that each link to a given page served as an “editorial vote” that endorsed its quality.
In hindsight, we can see certain issues with the idea – for example, cheaters could create dozens or hundreds of sites and use them all to link to a site they want to rank. At the time, however, the concept was revolutionary. Google – originally called BackRub – quickly attracted millions of dollars in funding from executives at Yahoo, Sun Microsystems, and more.
Rapid Growth in the Post-.com Era
Within a year of its founding, Google was already servicing 182 million queries a year, growing about fifty times larger than it was at launch. It moved out of a friend’s garage in Menlo Park to the Mountain View, California campus it has inhabited ever since – and even started providing supplementary search results for the Yahoo network in 2000.
Google was well-positioned to ride out the .com bubble and quickly outpaced its few market rivals. By 2002, Google was driving major innovations into the market: This included the release of its APIs to developers, the launch of Google Labs, and a more robust version of AdWords, the advertising platform now accounting for $100 million in revenue daily.
Market Leadership in the Search World
Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times annually, refining its results and improving the user experience. Over the last few years, its innovations have helped drive the mobile Web to a new level and improved the visibility of quality content. It facilitates a major part of the $300 million in annual e-commerce sales in the United States.
Keeping up with Google’s standards can be challenging, but it’s a big part of the tech world and a true success story!