What did we do before Google? Maybe it’s just marketing nerds like the team at Hiilite that seems to ask this question. However, if you’ve ever wondered, “what was it like performing online research before Google?”, this post is for you.
You may think that search engines are a (relatively) new concept – Google was founded in 1998 after all. The truth is, search engines and search engine optimization (SEO), has been in practice for a very long time. It has just been shifted from an offline format to online – thus cutting the time it takes to get results exponentially.
Years ago, you’d have to sift through multiple business listings in the phone book to get information on a business, their rates and services they provide. Now, you can pre-qualify a company in just a few seconds with a very pointed search query. Whereas previously you could ‘game’ the system in a phone book by calling your company A1 Adelaide Plumbers (thus appearing at the top of the directory for plumbers in your locale), similar practices have been made available online to improve your search engine presence – known as search engine optimization (SEO).
What did people do before Google?
We relied on the knowledge of librarians, educators and experts within their respective fields. If we didn’t have a suitable person within our network, we sought out answers in our own experiences. Let that sink in, when someone wondered “what is the capital of France?” You had to venture out to your local library, Geography teacher or perhaps your friend from France to get the answer. Isn’t that wild to think about? Performing research before Google was online makes you really appreciate the infrastructure we have in place now.
Who Created Google?
Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California.
How Was Google Created?
Essentially, the owners had a theory that webpages who had backlinks from other, highly relevant, authoritative websites are likely to be the most relevant for those searching for related topics. Studies were then carried out to test this theory. Obviously, based on the success of Google, you may have guessed, their findings proved their theories correct.
To those that have a background in online marketing or search engines in general, you already know that this theory is still a large foundation of how search engine algorithims operate. For instance, Moz has reported that domain-level links and page-level links have 8.22/10 and 8.19/10 correlation in search engine ranking respectively. These metrics rank #1 and #2 in their ranking factors.
Why Was Google Created?
The same reason any product/service exists, to fill gaps in the marketplace! When the internet was in its infancy stages, browsing the web without knowing the exact URL was difficult, time consuming and (potentially) costly.
Google was created to crawl and act as the primary index source for the internet, organizing them by what it feels was the most relevant to a searcher.
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Where Did Google Come From?
The search engine giant was initially formed out of Menlo Park, California in 1998. What may surprise you to hear is that the company was initially known as BackRub, which was a reference to their ability to perform backlink analysis at scale. After receiving positive feedback, the company expanded its abilities and so Google (a reference to the number googol, the number represented by a ‘1’ followed by one hundred zeroes) was born, providing mass quantities of information to its users. And this was the beginning of Google becoming the most popular home page on the internet.
How Has Google Cemented Itself
As The Go-to Search Engine?
Curious to know what Google’s market share as of this writing? 92.86% (according to this source).
So how are they doing it? This one is relatively simple. Because Google consistently provides the best results for its users and doing so with lightning quick load times.
Google has proven to be flexible in adapting to meet its users’ feedback and expectations, opting for less and less advertisements, instead favoring rich snippets and related search queries aimed at reducing the already miniscule time it takes to find your answer.
Their initial foundation of BackRub contains a very intuitive ranking process. If you think about the three pillars of search engine optimization, authority, relevance and trust then the thought that the sites that have the most references to them from other relevant sources, ought to be ranked higher and viewed more by those searching for applicable search queries.
Where is Google Heading Beyond 2019?
Let’s look at the products they’ve rolled out in recent memory:
- Google Maps (2005)
- YouTube (2005 – but owned yet by Google)
- Google Earth (2005)
- Google Calendar (2006)
- Google Finance (2006)
- Google Streetview (2007)
- Google Android (2007)
- Google Chrome (2008)
- Google Voice (2009)
- Google Labs (in 2012)
Google is continuously updating its algorithm to meet its mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. What changes do we foresee in the future to meet this goal?
First, a continued trend of limiting the actual clickthrough’s to websites in search results. As mentioned previously, Google has included more knowledge panels, rich snippets and more to answer searchers queries immediately. We believe this trend will continue to the point where it will no longer be a priority to rank highly on Google, but instead earning the coveted snippet position.
Additionally, Google has directed more attention and content to protecting its users’ privacy so be on the lookout for more features that continue down that path.
Finally, with the prominence of smart-home devices like Alexa and Google Home, those who work in the search engine optimization industry are still trying to navigate how best to rank well for voice search. While informational searches such as, “Alexa, where is the nearest laundromat?” are relatively straight forward, we are still in process of figuring out how to optimize for voice searches that are transactional (I.e. “Alexa, buy me a new laptop”).
What do you think? Is Google here to stay? How might it be changing in the near future?
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