Doesn’t it just blow your mind that a humble two-man startup from Menlo Park has grown to be one of the biggest multinational corporations in modern history?
That’s precisely what Larry Page and Sergey Brin did in 1998: they founded Google as Ph.D. students at Stanford University. Even while there were already a few search engines at the time, their novel way of determining how websites should be indexed and ranked had proven to be groundbreaking work.
In their early days, they simply blew everyone out of the water– Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo, AskJeeves and others are all just shadows of their former selves while the Google search engine dominates the marketplace to this day.
Just how was this possible? And why does Google continue to reign supreme in the search engine scene even today?
They take their indexing pretty seriously
If there’s one thing that separated Google’s search engine from all the others back in 1998, it’s the way they’ve indexed the websites in a search engine results page (SERP).
Specifically, it organizes all the websites it indexes and arranges them according to some very specific criteria to determine the best results of any query.
In essence, Google web crawlers not only go through the text or content on a page, but they also go through the site’s backlinks.
See, in Google’s eyes, backlinks are important. They represent a citation, an upvote, or an acknowledgment somehow that the content is important– much in the same way academic papers cite resources and references.
The more backlinks a site had, the higher the likelihood that it’s a much better site.
So if you searched for “the history of Star Trek”, Google not only pulled up a good number of Star Trek-related sites, but it would rank them according to quality. The site with the most backlinks was likely to be a site that other people liked as well in terms of content.
The user experience is important to Google
Of course, the Google search algorithm has gone through a ton of improvements and upgrades since the original prototype, but the basic premise remains the same.
Higher-quality sites should always have a better ranking than others. Serving the best quality sites given any particular search query means people are more likely to find the answers to their questions, the solutions to their problems, or the cure to what otherwise ails them.
A very satisfying search result means people know they can count on Google to give them the best possible answers to their questions and the best solutions to their problems.
In short, they turn to nobody else but Google.
No surprise then that folks on the internet all over the world just started using Google more than other search engines at the time.
And as Google understood why the user experience of search in important, it only grew in leaps and bounds.
In fact, Google has been so awesome at this that to “Google” something (i.e. to search for something on the internet) has been incorporated into our everyday language.
(Notice how nobody tells you to “AltaVista” something or to “Yahoo” something up? Exactly.)
They understand that online search is a business
With their signature algorithm and the importance they’ve placed on the user experience, Google has now earned the trust of the online community.
So much so that hardly anyone ventures down two or three pages on search anymore. Google has done such a great job at giving folks the best possible search results, that brands and businesses now see the value of being on the first page of Google search results.
The most highly coveted piece of real estate: the top spot of Google SERPs.
Now if you’re a business, you’re now constantly thinking of ways on how to get to the top of these search engine results pages (or SERPs).
SEO, or search engine optimization, when done right can get you there, but then:
- Getting to rank on the SERP is going to take quite a bit of time– several weeks or even months!
- And there are no assurances you’ll get that highly-coveted top spot on search. Other players might also be competing for first page-ranking, or maybe you’re not doing your SEO correctly.
Enter Google Ads.
A relatively small investment gets your brand seen right away at the top of search results. You may have to pay a little bit, but you do get to bypass the months of waiting for your content to rank.
So you can understand now why businesses love Google Ads. Compared to other traditional forms of advertising at the time, advertising on Google was much cheaper, a lot more targeted, and was surprisingly effective.
Google even partnered up with other websites to show their ads for a little cut of the advertising money. Today, the Google Display Network has more than two million partner websites under its wing– sites of all kinds, sizes, and niches.
Fast forward to today, you now have tons of options when it comes to putting ads on Google. Your ad can appear on search engine results, or through the Google Display Network on other websites, and even on mobile applications, as well as Google-owned assets like Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, and more.
A Final Word
It all started with two kids from Stanford who wanted to do things just a little differently. It’s been a little more than 20 years today, and Google is now an uncontested titan of the tech industry.
And as it continues its groundbreaking applications and improvements in the search engine space, Google also has invested significantly into other fields: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, computer hardware and software, among others.
Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. And if our way of using Google’s search engine for everyday tasks is any indication, then you can say that the company has done an outstanding job in carrying out what they have promised to do for internet users everywhere.