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Digital Services

  • 19 Sep 2023
  • 3 min

Google Turns 25

As Google turns 25 this month, SEO strategist Sophie takes a look back to where it all began and through to the story today.

I have to be honest, I was pretty excited to realise that Google is the same age as me. It’s like I was meant to work in SEO… go 1998 babies.

In some ways, it feels like Google should have been around for longer than a humble 25 years - given the significant impact it’s had across the world. The brand name is so big it’s become a verb in daily life. Google it.

Whilst there’s a few dates floating around for when the big day officially is, Google tells us their birthday is September 27th - so we’ll believe them. Ahead of the quarter century milestone, we thought it would be nice to take a trip down memory lane for the search engine we all know and love.

When Did Google Start?

The Google story started back in 1995 at Stanford University USA. The brainchilds to thank for its existence are Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both of whom studied there.

About a year after meeting, working from their dorm room together the pair built a search engine. As you do. It was first designed to use links that would assess the importance of individual pages across the World Wide Web. The original name was Backrub… but soon after changed to Google. A good decision, we think.

Where did the name come from? It's above my head, but apparently it was a play on the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. This appropriately reflected both Larry and Sergey's mission 'to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’, which to be fair, they’ve done a pretty good job of.

Skip to 1998, after catching the attention of fellow academics plus some pretty high profile investors, Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote the students a check for $100,000, and Google Inc. was officially born.

Google Through the Years

From dorm rooms to a garage, after continual and rapid expansion in the following years Google moved to its current headquarters - 'The Googleplex' - in Mountain View, California. They’d hired more engineers, built a sales team and introduced the first company dog, Yoshka - a loveable Leonberger. Adorbs!

Google has expanded, diversified and transformed in so many ways since its beginning. In its first 5 years alone Google developed:

  • Google Images

  • AdWords

  • Google Shopping

  • News

  • Did you mean?

  • Synonyms

  • And much more

Alongside being the biggest search engine, Google of course has a plethora of other technologies and subsidiaries including YouTube, Android, Gmail, Maps, Business Profile, Google Lens and more recently, Labs and Fitbit.

With the evolution of the company has come the evolution of search too, something that us SEOers know is a never ending party. Hundreds of changes happen every month, and most of the updates are so subtle that they go unnoticed. Apart from, however, when the search engine releases (the dreaded) major algorithmic updates - which can significantly impact the SERPs. These have happened since the early days and have been memorably named over time, including as Florida, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and RankBrain.

The Future of Google

Google has always kept things colourful, one of the many reasons why we love them. They have done this both literally, from the bright blue carpet in their first office space to the lego bricks that made up their initial server, and metaphorically - in the way that they have totally transfigured the way that the world's information is organised, accessed and shared.

One of its latest innovations is Search Labs, a new programme that allows early access to experiments and releases in search. In harmony with the AI wave that has flooded the world in recent times, one of the first experiments in Labs is SGE (search generative experience) - a way of introducing generative AI directly into results. This means AI-powered descriptions, signposts to explore more and natural language methods to ask for follow up information.

Alongside this is Perspectives, a transformative way to search through the offering of a range of personal and diverse perspectives across topics. These are displayed in a range of dynamic ways, including long and short form videos, images and written posts.

If the past 25 years is anything to go by, the future of Google looks exciting. We expect lots more AI fun alongside a continued abundance of forward thinking and innovative technologies. Googlers themselves say “The relentless search for better answers continues to be at the core of everything we do”.

Happy 25th birthday Google, lang may yer rum leek!