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Google: a brief history of the Google search engine

Google search engine

Google is now the most dominant search tool on the web, setting the standards that others try to follow and better, as yet unsuccessfully. It was founded in 1998 - relatively late compared to many of the popular search engines - by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were graduate students from Stanford University.

Page and Brin had been working together on a search engine they called "BackRub" since early 1996, but with the encouragement of Yahoo! co-founder David Filo, they decided to start a company in 1998 and went looking for investors to back them. Google, Inc. was established on September 7, 1998. The founders hired Craig Silverstein - who was later to become Director of Technology - as their first employee, and started the business in a friend's garage.

Google was still in an alpha stage, with an index of just 25 million pages, but it was handling 10,000 search queries every day. The search engine and the company grew quickly through word of mouth, initially with regular web users coming across the tool and finding the results to their liking.

Usage spread rapidly through press coverage, awards and recommendations, whilst Google's effectiveness and relevance, its speed and reliability, plus clean visual effects and 'quirky' nature all contributed to a rapid increase in the number of new advocates.

Google took a major step forward in 2000 when it replaced Inktomi as the provider of supplementary search results on Yahoo. Following this it won further successes and provided search data to Yahoo as its primary results, as well as to AOL, Netscape, Freeserve and BBCi in the UK. This gave Google exceptional coverage of web searches and established its reputation as one of the most reliable and accurate search tools, making it the clear market leader.

Despite losing the Yahoo relationship in 2004, Google continued to increase its coverage of the web search market and developed numerous regional versions of its search tool, both in English and other languages, so that its global dominance grew. In the UK, Google now accounts for over 70% of web searches that are made.

Google has also been actively developing a range of search options, including an image search, news search, shopping search (Froogle) and local search options. In addition, following Google's IPO in early 2005 it has set itself on a course for Internet domination and to challenge the position of Microsoft as the leading provider of computer services. There has been a series of announcements of new products, including the email service Gmail, the impressive Google Earth product, Google Talk to compete in the growing VoIP market, Google Base and Google Book Search, which is part of its ambitious project to make the content of thousands of books searchable online

Google has become synonymous with search and has entered the dictionary as a verb - 'to google' something. The expansion and integration of all Google's different services is making it a dominant player in the online market, but to many websites, Google is also the ultimate ranking target that will make a significant difference between the volumes of traffic received from prospective customers searching the web.

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Learn more about the other main search engines: MSN Search and Yahoo! Search.

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