Google has become the most popular search engine in the world. Only five years after its creation, Google was in control of about 85% of overall Internet searches and has only grown since then. So how did founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin achieve such an amazing status in such a short amount of time? There are two secrets to their success: PageRank and advertising.
PageRank is an algorithm which Page and Brin created during their graduate work as a research project. Little did they know this project would enable them to develop a multi-million dollar company. The algorithm is pretty simple. First, every page is given a rank. This rank is determined by how many other pages link to it. However, not all pages are ranked equally. If a page is linked to one which has a higher rank itself, then its rank increases as well. Basically, the algorithm is a process of ranking and evaluating depending on connections within the network of the Internet. It is pure math. Although it sounds rather simple, at the time no other search engine employed an idea even remotely similar. Therefore, this simple algorithm known as PageRank is one of the secrets to Google’s success.
The second secret is advertising. Because every TV station, radio station, and website uses advertising, this factor doesn’t seem very revolutionary. However, Google tweaked the traditional method of advertising in order to increase the effectiveness of ads and interest of users. To do so, they had to tap into users’ minds and their privacy. Google began to recognize and store its users’ key words from their searches, blogs, and even e-mails. By doing so, they essentially developed a profile for each user containing their likes and interests. Once these profiles were created, ads which would actually appeal to the user began to appear at the top and sides of their search results page. As people were genuinely interested in the ads, they would now click on them or stay on the page longer instead of ignoring or avoiding them. To make money from this model, Google developed a system in which they charged per click. So, every time a user clicked on an ad, the advertiser paid Google. Other sites, seeing Google’s immense success, then employed them to do “profiling” on their users in order to improve and personalize their advertising as well.
Many people have a problem with the fact that Google has invaded the privacy of its users. However, others have raised arguments that people post private information themselves to sites like Twitter and Facebook. As for Page and Brin, they believe they have created a system which better serves their users and their advertisers. Sounds like a win-win to me.