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History of Google Search

00:01 Hey everybody, so today I’m going to do a quick video on the history of Google search. This tool that I’m looking at, I’m going to share a link to it as well so you can look at it on your own time.


00:14 But I’m going to do a quick recap of a summary and timeline of Google search. Since 1997 till now, um from you know, kind of based on my perspective and how what I’ve seen over the years, um in the 12 years that I’ve been doing SEO.


00:33 The intention and aim of this video is to establish context. So if you’re doing any, you know, SEO. For your company or you have consultants or you have a team, oftentimes what doesn’t get put into place is the actual context behind SEO and um behind Google as a company.


00:56 Beyond just like the search engine, right? So if we can understand what Google’s what direction they’re heading in, what motivations they have, um we can better understand why they make decisions in search results and whether those decisions are sometimes just bugs, right?


01:13 Totally unintended, but they happen, um or they’re by design and you know, because there’s some big reason. That’s a mastermind goal that Google has over a long period of time.


01:26 Um, so this helps us understand that. Now this tool Google created so to give the everyday person like just an idea of how their company has evolved since 1997.


01:35 Um, so I’ll go through the key pieces that might be relevant to SEO. So thank you. But over the course of this, you know, my intention is also to show you some of the key recurring patterns that take place in the search results, in the different elements and things Google adds to and removes.


02:00 So keep a look out for those and, you know, the themes behind that. Okay, so, um, 1997, uh, or 1986, Larry Page and his partner Sergey Brin came up with the PageRank algorithm.


02:15 This is based on links. Links that help, uh, rank, you know, webpages that have more authority and prominence versus other webpages that might not.


02:28 Um, so this is no longer just, you know, most other, uh, search engines at the time, like MetaCrawler and GeoCities and AltaVista, they all have links.


02:38 It had very good algorithms on, um, you know, content detection and matching to keywords, but it was hard to really sort through which sites were the most reputable.


02:51 And that’s what PageRank had the algorithm. It basically, it’s a zero to ten scale. It’s a logarithmic scale. And so a company like PageRank, like, you know, Google.com today in 2024 is a, um, is a 10 out of 10 because it has, you know, so many different links from all of the sites of the web, especially


03:12 like the biggest and most important ones. Um, Google, Amazon, Facebook, right? Those are all versus on the low end. You have new sites that are brand new created today, tomorrow.


03:22 Um, so PageRank is able to distinguish like where, what the different levels are of content quality of website quality of brand reputation and that sort of thing.


03:33 So this is the original. This is first algorithm, and this is still one of their most impactful algorithms today. Um, so 1997, google.com is registered.


03:43 It starts in 1998. And then Google starts to, um, you know, again, just going through their processes as a, you know, growth as a, you know, search engine company.


03:56 They, uh, have crawled enough of the web now at this point to reach 1 billion URLs stored in their index.


04:03 And that’s what they use to be able to, you know, give results on all kinds of different searches. 2001, Google is like, hey, we’re onto something, let’s build, let’s, you know, make a paid version of the organic search results that’s going to monetize and make us money.


04:19 Really, this is their biggest revenue source. Back then, this was their only source, but now it’s like still 90-95% of their revenue today is from Google AdWords.
04:30 Uhm, so then the image, the actual search results themselves stored in started to go from like basic static to more dynamic and you know, multifaceted.
04:41 So, you started to see features about like spelling and you know, uhm, you started seeing images in the search results, right, to make it a more, uh, comprehensive experience.
04:52 Uhm, then Google introduced Google AdWords. So, they and shopping into the mix, they started to, their algorithms then started to, instead of having to match keywords to content on a page, they started detecting synonyms, so now, when you, you know, users or any expert is writing in Google AdWords, they
05:11 his language to a user, any sort of helpful advice, they don’t have to stuff the article with keywords, they can just write about it like they normally would and Google would be smart enough to understand synonyms and other variations of a search term.
05:29 They added Google Local to find local visitors. This is one of their first experiences, which was where the end result was Google’s search itself.
05:40 Right, so if you needed to do some quick math and you wanted a calculator, before it would take you to a calculator website.
05:46 Now it just did the calculation for you and so Google’s like hey, now people are starting to use us. As a utility, as an actual tool, not just for searching other results, right, like other websites.
05:59 Then they started loading their entire organization or like their information database with books. So about 40 million books in 400 languages.
06:11 were now scanned and stored into the Google index, which made, again, Google like, you know, really one of the biggest, uh, the only really monopoly in the search results is because their treasure trove of information just became that deep.
06:32 Uhm, so you found results there that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Uhm, then Google introduced autocomplete. The engineers just were doing a side project.
06:40 They’re like, hey, how do we take all of this existing search data that we have and then just make it so that it’s more predictive?
06:46 Uhm, and so that’s autocomplete is one of their major features, even still used today, uhm, that helps us find content or, you know, search results without clicking too much, uhm, or typing too much.
07:01 Then they introduced maps, bought satellites, started, you know, rolling out Google Maps into a separate app. And within search results, uhm, featuring local businesses, you know, having directions, uhm, all these things, weather, again, just making the search results more interactive so that people
07:19 don’t have to go to another site at the end of the search. Uhm, this site maps thing here, this is what eventually became Google Maps.
07:28 This is Webmaster Tools, which became Google Search Console, as it is today. This is actually the greatest thing that an SEO could have at his, in his arsenal, so, uhm, you know, definitely will have a lot of follow-ups in the future about Search Console and how it helps you really, uh, build the right
07:46 strategy. Uhm, then, later, 2005, Google became more about, you know, imitating, just really responding to what the users are wanting out of web search.
07:59 So, mobile was starting to become a thing, uhm, and, you know, Motorola razors and things, phones like that, uhm. But very slow, very early, and then, Google started introducing causes and world events into the search results experience.
08:16 Uhm, then, finance, you started seeing tickers and stock symbols and prices in the search results. Google Translate. Now, Google Trends was rolled out.
08:27 Again, for the SEO, this is uhm, not just actually, this is not keyword volume, but it’s all about relativity. So, what are the most interesting topics and trends in the world at any given point?
08:39 Uhm, so either it’s a snapshot in time, like today, or the last 24 hours. or to, you know, a whole range where you can look at the last 5 or 7 years and see what’s trended up, what’s trended down the most.
08:52 Uhm, and so, some data goes back even further than that, but generally, it gives you a good sense of, you know, where your industry is heading.
09:02 Uhm, universal search, just put it putting all the text, videos, images, and things all on the same page. Uhm, Google mobile app, voice search, emergency hotlines, product listing ads, so this is, Google realized text ads are not going to be enough, we also want to have shopping carousels and make those
09:23 monetized for her. Ads, uhm, through Google shopping. Then, 2010-11, one of the biggest updates to their indexing system, uhm, caffeine, so this just made results more, you know, real-time, uh, didn’t have to wait for uhm, days or weeks.
09:45 For certain searches, you were able to see them right away in the results, uhm, with improved indexing. And then, the knowledge graph was rolled out in 2012.
09:56 This was big to make it so that you couldn’t, you didn’t have to just search by keywords. You can search by entities, and Google will know that you’re talking about not just a keyword, but you’re talking about a place, a person, or thing, right?
10:11 Uhm, so if you’re looking up the word you, y-o-u, uhm, that could either just be a generic word, or it could be the TV show you.
10:20 and so Knowledge Graph is what helped enable that, so Google can, they have a good time, good sense in real time for what people are looking for, uhm, even if it’s something that, you know, is, it doesn’t really have much context behind it, uhm, but just because it might be trending.
10:37 Uhm, then we have election information, public alerts, AdWords, so this kept improving their paid media business, uhm, as more and more companies started to invest in paid search, uhm, Google.
10:52 The Hummingbird system, this was a, uhm, an algo update that was also pretty important in the history of SEO. Cheers.
11:22 So again, Google’s continued evolution of walling the garden, right, of the search results where the user doesn’t have to necessarily click into a search result.
11:35 They can just end their search by seeing the answer of their question right there at the top. And, uhm, you know, ending the, satisfying the goal.
11:47 Uh, Google My Business was launched to help web owners or business owners manage their properties in Google Maps and so on.
11:56 Uhm, yeah. Then, people also ask, so this is powered by machine learning where it’s using search trends data to say what are the things people are most interested in.
12:08 Uhm, popular times for restaurants, uhm, again just going deeper into how much of a utility Google can be. And then 2015, it crossed the 50-50 mark where more searches happened on mobile phones than on PCs.
12:26 Uhm, then what, PrankBrain was another algorithm that was added to the general algorithm, uhm, which looks at, you know, hundred, several hundred different factors, but, uhm, this really is like, this additional filter that helps explain concepts to keywords and, you know, connect webpages that are more
12:46 conversational, more, uh, natural language, uh, driven to understand what the user might be looking for. Uhm, again, giving right answers.
12:58 Giving writers and experts, right, giving them back some control of them being able to just freely write without being restricted to having to use keywords to stuff their article with.
13:10 Uhm, so then, this, again, more ideas of machine learning to optimize ads. Uhm, neural machine learning, uhm, and so again, like using it for language processing, but then, you know, using that language processing to understand and rank content better, uhm.
13:35 And so, then Google Discover came out as like just real-time news served by Google from different sources on the web, job search, Google Lens, uhm, being able to just take a picture of, you know, a dress or something in real life, and instantly find it.
13:54 Finding search results to, you know, where you can even shop that same dress within seconds. Uhm, again, just more, this is where like you can see more and more AI or augmented reality or machine learning based features in the algorithms or in the actual interfaces that people use.
14:14 Google with. Uh, BERT was another one of the major developments in SEO history as far as how content was assessed and the quality of it.
14:25 Uhm, then we have, uh, just more information as we go through COVID-19, uhm, you know, the place for stats. And, uhm, vaccine availability and mortality rates and all these things, uhm, people did right there within the search results.
14:46 Uhm, Google’s just continued improvement of making sure that when people are searching, even if they’re misspelling something or, you know, they’re intending to find something but it’s, it’s not explicitly put on a web page, they’re still going to be able to.
15:01 Google’s going to basically predict it, what it is the thing that you want, and then tie it to the most trustworthy results.
15:08 Uhm, then you have Mum was introduced, another AI-driven, uhm, you know, change to the search experience, multi-search, uhm, multi-search, multi-search near me, shop the look, uhm, again, just translating through Lens, and then, uhm, explore as you scroll, so instead of like pagination at the bottom
15:40 where you click page to page, you can just keep, uhm, scrolling, and refine your searches so that ultimately, like, you don’t leave that search.
15:51 unsatisfied, uhm, and then, again, this just continued evolution. Now, what Google is not showing here is that in the last five to six years, the amount of algo changes that they have made, have been fast and major in terms of impact, uhm, and that is not just because of generative search, but just in
16:21 general, Google’s increased, uhm, efforts to monetize search results better because now, again, 95% of their revenue comes from paid ads, uhm, and so, they’re investing and diversifying in their revenue abilities, but they’re still so reliant on paid search, uhm, just given the sheer volume of, you know
16:43 , business that happens, uhm, facilitated. through Google search, uhm, and so, it’s been a very difficult time for many small business owners, content creators, and even brands, uhm, because of how fast these new algorithm updates are taking place, or search results are changing, uhm, because Google’s
17:10 ultimately starting to really wall the garden, do more monetization, so organic results are not as in the same prominent placements that they were previously, uhm, but still the increase in volume of searches is enough to still keep you know, web traffic, organic traffic, very sustainable, uhm, but that’s
17:32 going to still continue to change as more and more generative search AI takes place, uhm, and, and Google increases its capabilities.
17:42 Uh, I would suggest not to, you know, if you’re seeing the headlines that open AI is, uhm, AI is way better and chat GPT’s way better than like Gemini, uhm, that’s true today, but, uh, keep this in mind that Google has over 27 years of the world’s information, right?
18:01 They’re basically the mother of all encyclopedias that ever existed, all databases that ever existed that were public, uhm, or they were private, but, you know, Google ended up buying them, uhm, OpenAI and, you know, other search engines, they don’t have this vast of a, you know, treasure when it comes
18:19 to just data and information. Uhm, Google’s mission is to be the world’s most organized, uhm, you know, to organize the world’s information the best, right?
18:31 And so, as long as they have that in their competitive advantage, uhm, eventually they’ll get the AI generative search capabilities right, uhm, and so other companies may have the first-mover advantage right now, like Perplexity or, you know, even OpenAI, uhm, in some ways, but, uh, it’s still, you know
18:55 , things still go through Google until proven otherwise, uhm, and judging by Apple, Apple just signed another major deal with certain with Google Search to, uhm, keep Google Search the default search engine on all iOS devices, right, uhm, and Safari, so, like, by default, the search engine is always
19:22 Google. You can to something, you know, whatever you want, but not many people change it to Bing or DuckDuckGo or anything else.
19:31 So, uhm, and, and a lot of that is, you know, paid deals, paid partnerships between Google and other companies where, uhm, they use search.
19:43 So, uhm, anyways, uhm, the, the point is, search continues to keep evolving, and as professionals or as executives, you know, if we have teams that are actively doing SEO, uhm, keep, make sure that they keep just the overall big picture of how Google as a company has evolved, uhm, their stock price today
20:04 is like still at an all-time high, so if there’s any like doom and gloom type of news about Google and like the results are bad, a lot of it is because of eco-chambers, like there’s SEO professionals who are working and, you know, with websites owners that were affected by recent, the aggressive algo
20:24 changes, uhm, to make a case that oh like Google, you know, is harming creators, Google is harming companies, uhm, they are in some cases because when you make changes there’s going to be winners, there’s going to be losers, uhm, and not everything is going to be fair.
20:41 At the end of the day, so people are right to complain but that doesn’t necessarily have any connection to how much value Google is creating and capturing today through their search product as a whole.
21:02 Right, so the entire search experience from the time you either can see something on your Google lens, either you take a picture of something or you have some sort of glasses and it can find you some like the right result within seconds or you type it in or you send and speak it in.
21:23 At some point, we’ll even have like, you know, query-less search where it can just kind of read your mind and I know it’s bizarre, but it could eventually head in that direction, right, just given how fast everything is changing.
21:40 But keep in mind that things are still very much at the core of how search engines work, how the algorithms work.
21:48 It’s still math, it’s still engineering, and even if there’s more and more of a black box of the algorithm, you know, there’s.
21:58 At the end of the day, it’s still engineering, and some of the principles are very time-tested, and they’ll be true just as true, you know, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now.
22:11 And so, you know, helpful content from help, like actual experts, if you can focus on that. If you focus on building a brand, these types of things were true 27 years ago, those things are going to be true 27 years from now.
22:27 So, try to think about it, or have your teams think about it in that way, where they’re focused on continuity, but they’re also still focused on the edge of the newest technologies, just don’t buy into all the hype, the first mover in this new space of, you know, internet, or AIs and search results,
22:54 and chatbots, yeah, open AI, perplexity. There’s a lot of new players that are making noise right now, but uhm, you know, still don’t sleep on Google, is my recommendation.
23:06 Thanks. If you have any questions, post it in the mastermind, and I hope this was helpful.

Michael Jordan

NBA Legend, Businessman, Philanthropist at
I am the greatest basketball player of all time, a 6-time NBA world champion, Olympics gold medalist, the CEO of the iconic Air Jordan brand, philanthropist, and more. In my spare time, I offer free basketball, business, and life coaching of the many lessons I have acquired firsthand for over 40 years.