Most, if not all of us, will come into contact with Google every day and usually several times a day, without even being aware. While considering that fact, I would find myself wondering, “what do they do and how are they doing it?”
It seems like it should be a simple answer at first, but more to the point, how did a company based around a search algorithm become a major world corporation?
The 6th biggest world corporation actually, as it turns out. So, as I went about asking people if they could tell me what Google does, beyond basically providing an index of information, not only did I find that no one had an answer, but also that no one was really paying it much attention.
I can remember hearing about Google from time to time on the radio or tv news, but only just small bits of information. Maybe when they hit a milestone of some importance, but it was never more than a small mentioning. Then i noticed it happening more and more frequently, then suddenly they are a huge multi-national corporation tied into just about everything. Let’s start by catching up on some history…
Google was founded by Page and Brin in 1998. That was only about 6 years after the “world wide web” we know today had just been formed. The internet that we know today only really started, but there was digital information available. The change began when the internet was introduced to commercialization and computers became more available throughout the late 80’s. However, not much existed online back then compared to now, but the information was there and people needed a way to find it.
in 1990 the first “pre-web search engines” looked through and cataloged files from the few of computers connected to each other. Most of which were property of universities, large commercial businesses, government agencies with just a small amount belonging to private residents. At seemingly impossible speed, everyone watched as I.T. (information technology) community took off like a rocket.
The first phone line based “dial-up “connections could run at about 1200 bits per second, and only 30 years later we now have the Gigabit wireless connection at 1.3 Gigabytes per second on a wireless 5 GHz bandwidth. 1981 the first hard disk was created and held 5 megabytes of information, now a HyperX Predator 3.0 flash drive can hold an astonishing 1 terabyte. And, 1997 the best CPU, when over-clocked, ran at 300 Mhz, but today’s best runs at 4.7 Ghz.
Google reports that it sees 3.5 billion searches every day, that breaks down to 40,000 searches every second. However, Search eve being such a very large, and very important feature provided by the company, is not what the their business is based around. Even though Google has gone from a small start-up to the 6th largest corporation in the world not very much has actually changed when it comes to the search process itself.
Obviously the development of newer algorithms and faster infrastructures has changed things dramatically. Still though, search engines continue work in almost the same way the very first engines developed, “gopher” and “Archie” did. It was their job to find and look through the all the information contained in files available online. They then created an indexed catalog of the files contents and details of the information. When finished, a programmed function would determine what the information was and then make note of things like subject and author. This program “crawls” through all the files and when finished it would follow a connection that links sites together, like a web.
Currently, a “crawler” or “googlebot” will use a file called robot.txt to get instructions about how deep to go, and a site-map to show it which direction to travel through the set of pages making up a website. Along the way it takes a detailed inventory of the contents and coded structure making up the site. Once completed, the quality of information and accessibility to it are given a score and placed in a ranked based system determined by how relevant and the information is to the subject matte. The ranking then uses key words frequently used to categorize the type website, and what it’s overall purpose is. Then it is ready to be included in a search results list ordered with the most beneficial information to the searched reference first.
Google uses over 200 factors for the crawlers to use in determining the websites quality of information as it would relate to what the person is searching for. This is how the order for every item in results of a search is placed, with the exception of a few at the beginning and end of the first couple pages who pay for their spots These paid spots are still relevant to the inquiry made but less”organic” and so they are marked as an advertisement. All the others spots got to this order by being the most informative and well structured, while having the most current information relating to the search. This, in a nutshell, is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) , which is a booming industry right now, as businesses try to keep keep up ranking scores with better content and download speeds. This works well for Google, because it gives a better user experience and will promote the continued use of Google services by the end user.
While Google does charge for these services the cost is directly related to the about of money it generates, which is pretty cool of Google. Very large companies using keyword phrases like “car accident lawyer” pay well over $300 every time someone uses those words in a search, finding them as a result and clicking on the link to view their website, this is called Google Analytics and uses a service called Adwords.
The information that makes up the foundation for this has been collected to include the revenue gained by these companies as it directly relates to the search. On the other end of the spectrum, websites that say, offer computer repair, will pay a lesser dollar ammount “per click” where that also is based on the same type on industry information.
If it sound sounds like a complicated situation, believe me it is. Even being complex to navigate the results still have a mostly organic, meaning not strictly monetary based. /*Thanks guys*/. Yes, they do make money doing this but its not quite at the center of this journey.
I hope you are still with me this is the fun bit. Before we put all the pieces together and see what we have, I will add one more ingredient to the recipe, a cookie. You may every now and then hear the word cookie, when referring to a computer file type in phrases like, “clearing out” or “click to accept cookies .” But what is a cookie?
The site allaboutcookie.org is, of course, all about cookies, but no chocolate chips packed in these cookie but they do have lots of information. Don’t get paranoid, but they are tracking you. These cookie files contain information about everything you do, places you go, things you eat, and the times you do whatever it is you do.
They are collected by various programs we use all the time. Apps like search and social media will collect the information we generate about or daily activities. It is then identified to us along with times and locations, encrypted and sent off to whoever owns the app collecting the data. How is this possible? We all agree to it by just quickly clicking “ok” on those “terms of service” pop-ups we get when an app installs. Google plus and the AMP project are also big contributors to the cookie flow of information.
Honestly, it is, what it is… But don’t panic just yet, because like so many things, there are rules. The laws governing these agreements state that collecting this information is only legal if it has been made anonymous. Like other industries, the “big fish” are monitored and they wouldn’t risk taking the losses that violating the privacy statements in those agreements would create. I do however, recommend that the source of any app you download be known and trusted before installing. Just let me be clear here, Google absolutely does not sell private personal information ever. Instead it is locked when sent and then made anonymous, so that it can be made ready for statistical analysis.
Consider for a moment the information collected by cookies being turned into harmless raw data. Data, that big nation wide companies and small local business alike, could use. It would become a very useful tool, in that it would help to structure marketing strategies around consumer trends. Its an amazing concept to try and think about how much data would be stored in 40,000 searches generated every second. It would detail such a clear a picture of exactly what people are doing and when. For any business it is a tremendous asset to have data like this. The depth of structure and level of innovation is truly a marvel. It is exactly what would be required of a young company like this to gain such authority. It is also much more than likely, that they will continue to grow for a very long time.