There are a few brand names that have become so engrained in the English language that they cease to become nouns and transform into verbs. For example, “Hand me a Kleenex,” might not get you the actual Kleenex brand. You might get a Puff’s tissue. Chances are no one is going to tell you to, “Minolta this,” or “Sharp this.” But there is a very good chance they will say, “Xerox this.” At one time “aspirin” was a brand name but it lost its copyright protection because it became synonymous with other types of pain relievers of the day that contained aspirin.
Google, the massive Internet search engine has become such a verb in the English language. “Google it” or “Googling” has been added to most dictionaries with the definition of “searching on the internet.” Google was certainly not the first search engine but they were the first to search in a very specific way that returned better results.
How Search Engines Work
In the pioneering days of search engines almost all used search terms to determine the results of a search. If you were searching for “poodles,” search engines would look for sites that had lots of mentions of poodles on their pages. So web designers started packing search terms on their pages to improve results.
Google decided that doing searches that way could be manipulated and would not return the best results from a search. Google decided that sites of importance would link to other sites that were relevant. When a site with a lot of visitors linked to a site with fewer visitors Google would increase the page rank of the lessor site.
After learning of Google’s page ranking algorithm web designers started packing sites with links from anywhere they could get them. As a result Google begin the pay attention to how relevant the linked site was to the search term used. A link to the poodle page from a poodle-breeding page would be more relevant than a link to a furniture store. Google began penalizing sites that were trying to buck the system with lots of phony links.
Some Google History
Google went public on this date in 2004, but the company actually started in March of 1996 as a research project by two Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The Google domain name was registered on September 15, 1997 and formal incorporation of Google, Inc. took place in a friend’s garage (see photo above) in Menlo Park, California on September 5, 1998.
The name Google is a phonetically pronounced, mathematical term for the word, “googol,” which is a number followed by 100 zeros. The two founders thought it fit well with the huge site they were constructing.
Some Final Thoughts
I’ve lost count of the number of times I use Google during my workday. Several hundred I would guess. It’s absolutely essential to my radio show when I have to come up with info quickly.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not only billionaires themselves but created others along the way. What Google shows is that there are always going to be new ways of making money as we move further into the future of electronic commerce.
Page and Brin had an idea and ran with it. I doubt either did it for the money in the beginning. They had an idea and a passion to see that idea develop and to make it as good as they possibly could. Did they see a profit motive? Of course they did and so did their investors. Across this country there are kids staring at computer screens looking at the next big idea. Perhaps you’re one of them.
What did you Google today?