Googleplex Image Gallery Torsten Silz/AFP/Getty Images Fair-goers use laptops at Google’s stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Oct. 8, 2006. Take a look inside Google with Googleplex pictures. What began as a project helmed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students in Stanford University’s Ph.D. program, is now one of the most influential companies on the World Wide Web: Google. At first, the students’ goal was to make an efficient search engine that gave users relevant links in response to search requests. While that’s still Google’s core purpose today, the company now provides services ranging from e-mail and document storage to productivity software and mobile phone operating systems. In less than a decade, Google evolved from a two-man enterprise to a multibillion-dollar corporation. Today, Google’s popularity continues to grow. In 2007, the company surpassed Microsoft as the most visited site on the Web [source: Kopytoff]. The company’s influence on the Web is undeniable. Practically every webmaster wants his or her site listed high on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), because it almost always translates into more traffic on the corresponding Web site. Google has also acquired other Internet companies, ranging from blogging services to the video-sharing site YouTube. For a while, the company’s search technology even powered rival companies’ search engines — Yahoo! relied on Google searches for nearly four years until developing its own search engine technologies in 2004 [sources: Google; Hu and Olsen].
Google’s influence isn’t limited to just the Web. In 2007, company executives announced their intention to enter the FCC’s auction of the wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz (MHz) band. That part of the wireless spectrum previously belonged to analog television broadcasters. Google representatives said the company entered the auction to foster competition within the wireless service industry. Google supported an open technology approach to wireless service in which consumers could use any device with any provider rather than face limited choices determined by the provider and its preferred vendors. In order to participate in the auction, Google had to prove it was ready to meet the reserve price for the spectrum: $4.6 billion. Ultimately, Google didn’t win the auction. But the company still achieved its main goal — Verizon, which won the bid, must follow the open technology approach Google wanted.
How Many Zeros?
Google’s name is a variation of the word "googol," which is a mathematical term for a one followed by 100 zeros. Page and Brin felt the name helped illustrate Google’s monumental mission: Organizing billions of bytes of data found on the Web.
In this article, we’ll learn about the backbone of Google’s business: its search engine. We’ll also look at the other services Google offers to both average users and to commercial businesses. Then we’ll take a quick peek at some of the tools Google has developed over the years. We’ll also learn more about the equipment Google uses to keep its massive operation running. Finally, we’ll take a closer look at Google the company. The Google Search Engine Google’s search engine is a powerful tool. Without search engines like Google, it would be practically impossible to find the information you need when you browse the Web. Like all search engines, Google uses a special algorithm to generate search results. While Google shares general facts about its algorithm, the specifics are a company secret. This helps Google remain competitive with other search engines on the Web and reduces the chance of someone finding out how to abuse the system. Google uses automated programs called spiders or crawlers, just like most search engines. Also like other search engines, Google has a large index of keywords and where those words can be found. What sets Google apart is how it ranks search results, which in turn determines the order Google displays results on its search engine results page (SERP). Google uses a trademarked algorithm calledPageRank, which assigns each Web page a relevancy score. A Web page’s PageRank depends on a few factors:
The frequency and location of keywords within the Web page: If the keyword only appears once within the body of a page, it will receive a low score for that keyword.
How long the Web page has existed: People create new Web pages every day, and not all of them stick around for long. Google places more value on pages with an established history.
The number of other Web pages that link to the page in question: Google looks at how many Web pages link to a particular site to determine its relevance.
Out of these three factors, the third is the most important. It’s easier to understand it with an example. Let’s look at a search for the terms "Planet Earth." As more Web pages link to Discovery’s Planet Earth page, the Discovery page’s rank increases. When Discovery’s page ranks higher than other pages, it shows up at the top of the Google search results page. Because Google looks at links to a Web page as a vote, it’s not easy to cheat the system. The best way to make sure your Web page is high up on Google’s search results is to provide great content so that people will link back to your page. The more links your page gets, the higher its PageRank score will be. If you attract the attention of sites with a high PageRank score, your score will grow faster. Google initiated an experiment with its search engine in 2008. For the first time, Google is allowing a group of beta testers to change the ranking order of search results. In this experiment, beta testers can promote or demote search results and tailor their search experience so that it’s more personally relevant. Google executives say there’s no guarantee that the company will ever implement this feature into the search engine globally. Google offers many different kinds of services in addition to chat. In the next section, we’ll see how some of them work.