Google turns 20!

To celebrate the world’s favourite search engine turning 20 today, we take a look at its journey so far…

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It’s been 20 years since graduates Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the monster that we know today, Google. A term that has become such a household name that it is now used by many as a verb and features in the Oxford dictionary as such:

Search for information about (someone or something) on the Internet using the search engine Google.”

Twenty years on, Google is completely dominating the search space, taking a huge 91% of market share in August 2018 – followed by Bing which owns a measly 3% – and the search engine now processes billions of searches every day.

Over the two decades that Google has been around it has shown it has a fantastic ability to move with the times and diversify into new areas so it is always meeting the consumer’s needs, for example, mobile phones and the voice activated, Google Home devices. There have also been lots of changes made to the search engine over its lifetime and it has evolved from the basic search engine (with no ads) in 1998 to what we have today:

When Page met Brin

Page and Brin met back in 1995 at Stanford University where Brin gave Page a tour of the campus as part of a tour group. Apparently they didn’t get on at first, with both of them finding the other “obnoxious”, but these feelings must have soon subsided as they worked together on the ‘Backrub’ project. This project aimed to qualify backlinks to websites, something that required both computing resource and complex mathematics and in 1996 the PageRank algorithm was born.

The algorithm not only looked at keyword frequency of webpages but it also looked at their authority by analysing how many backlinks the pages had and what websites these backlinks were coming from, and just a couple of years after that Google was launched.

What does the next 20 years hold?

Just like the first 20 years, Google predicts that the next 20 will be full of innovation and change whilst remaining grounded on their mission:

  • All change is developed and focused on the user
  • It will continue to strive to provide accurate, relevant content as fast as possible
  • As 15% of all searches today are brand new it will have to stick to the algorithmic approach
  • Test, test, test – every change that is made will be tested as much as possible to ensure it actually works before being rolled out to all consumers

The next chapter shows a shift in Google’s focus:

Activity cards are an easy way to revisit pages from your search history.

Collections are an easy way to track your path through the web and note pages that you want to go back to, you can add pages from your activity cards to collections.

  • From query to queryless with Discover:

Discover is the new name for the Google feed that shows the user relevant content, even when they’re not searching.

Google knows how important imagery is in search and how often an image or video answers a user’s query so it is doing all it can, with the help of AI, to make its search results more “visual and enjoyable”.


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