What is Google?

It’s hard to imagine the internet without Google. Here you can find out where the brand came from, what exactly the organisation does and what it’s planning for the future.

The Google search engine receives several billion search queries every day. However, hardly anyone wonders what the company actually does, how big and powerful it is and how, exactly, the search tool works.

What is Google?

It all began in 1995 with two computer science students, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, at Stanford University in California. There they launched BackRub, the predecessor to Google.

This was a search engine that determined the value of a website by looking at the links that led to it from other pages. The tool equated links with recommendations – because no one recommends something if they are not convinced of its value, or so the thinking goes. This principle and the associated algorithm formed the basis for the launch of Google Inc. in 1998.  Google has an about-us page which shows the story of Google.

In 2015 a re-structuring of the company saw the formation of Alphabet Inc, under which Google LLC was placed.

At present (as of 2021), Google is the most frequently accessed website in the world:

  • With a share of 70.42% of worldwide desktop searches, Google is the global market leader
  • With 90.7% of mobile search queries, Google also takes pole position in this market segment
  • In Germany, 84% of desktop searches and 97% of mobile searches are conducted via Google

Baidu, Yandex and Bing are among Google’s competitors. Google LLC had a revenue of over $182 billion ( 182,527,000,000) in 2020. Google is currently led by Sundar Pichai (CEO) and Ruth Porat (CFO.) (July 2021)

How does search work on Google?

Keeping track of the entire internet is not easy. To do this, Google uses computer programmes called web crawlers that constantly search the web for fresh content.  

The content is not only found, but also evaluated according to over 200 specific criteria. This is done in order to display websites with good-quality content higher up in the search results.

A decisive factor for the placement was something referred to as the PageRank. This refers to a value between 1 and 10, and it was calculated using the number and quality of backlinks.

However, PageRank, which was displayed in the Google Toolbar of every website, invited attempts at manipulation via link exchange and link trading. Many website operators focused more on PageRank than on high-quality content. Others, who did not want to play this game, criticised Google. 

As a result, the PageRank metric is no longer visible today. The factor lost importance but is not entirely meaningless. Backlinks continue to play an important role in search engine optimisation alongside internal links and the number, relevance, and distribution of keywords in the text. Headings, subheadings, and images should also not be neglected. 

It is always worth paying close attention to the technical and content quality of a website.

What products belong to Google

Like most big tech companies, Google does not concentrate on just one sector of the economy. In addition to the search engine, the following divisions and companies also belong to Google. Note, there are other companies under Alphabet Inc.

  • The Android operating system for mobile devices
  • The online service Blogger.com
  • Chrome, the internet browser, based on Chromium, released in 2008
  • The Chromecast multimedia HDMI stick
  • The Chromebook computer, built around the Chromium browser.
  • Google Drive and Google Docs, which allow users to share and collaborate on files
  • Google Earth, Streetview and Maps
  • Photo management and editing with Google Photos
  • The email service Gmail
  • The video chat and messenger service Google Hangouts / Google Meet
  • The appointment organisation tool Google Calendar
  • Networking of important devices such as thermostats and smoke detectors with Nest
  • The personal assistant Google Now for Android and iOS
  • The app store for Android users called Google Play
  • Google Translator, which now translates up to 90 languages
  • Google Wallet for internet transactions and payments in brick-and-mortar shops
  • Smartwatches and other wearables via Android Wear
  • The popular video platform YouTube, which Google bought in 2006.

But that’s not all: since 2009, the venture capital firm GV (formerly Google Ventures) has invested in numerous start-ups, including in the tech and health sectors. However, the company acts independently of Google, under Alphabet.

The research division X of the company Alphabet Inc. (formerly Google X) is based near the central Google campus. Google co-founder Sergey Brin built the company together with German robotics specialist Sebastian Thrun.

It is also undertaking a number of other projects: Google Glass, which has since been discontinued, and its forays into self-driving cars, one of Google’s best-known ventures, under Waymo.

Steve Paine