25 Years of Google Search

Happy birthday, Google search. I can’t believe it’s been 25 years already!

25 years ago I was building my first homepage and was obsessed with “hit counters” and traffic. Now, I’m Clever Marketing’s Senior Digital Marketing Manager and Head of Digital and such a huge part of that time has been spent working heavily with Google Search.

Back in 1998 Google was one of many search engines. Yahoo was considered a close rival at the time but you also had many other now obscure tools such as Dogpile, Magellan, WebCrawler, Infoseek, Excite, Ask Jeeves, Lycos, and Hotbot. I used them all.

In those days it didn’t seem like there was a dominant search engine so we used tools to submit to them all. I even recall a colleague in 2001 pushing a piece of software, on CD, saying

“You’ve got to buy this, it submits your site to over 1,000 search engines and directories”

I forget the name of that software but how ridiculous does that sound today? (I remembered the day after I wrote this – It was Submit Wolf Pro)

Google Market Dominance

The reason is that Google is now the number one search engine and has been for many years now.

Of course, Bing (MSN Search) is still around and quite popular, Ask Jeeves became Ask.com and now we have DuckDuckGo, Baidu and Yandex, popular amongst their demographics.

But Google is truly dominant. Recently it has been quoted as taking over 83% of desktop search but that was recently higher until Microsoft’s Bing started really pushing with integrated ChatGPT in search.

In fact use of Google search has become so prevalent that, as well as a brand name, Google was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb in June 2006. “Google it“ has become common parlance.

Bing did try to get some of that love in the early days with its strapline “Bing and decide”.

Constant Adaptation

Google’s reliability has always been a key factor in its most recent popularity, but the biggest factor has been its evolution and adaptation to change.

If you think about it, Google search has driven that change.

Back in the heady days of 1998 search engine results were just top ten lists. Any results page would show ten text results.

Then in 2003 Google allowed those struggling to rank organically the opportunity to pay to rank above the results SEO practitioners had work so hard to gain. Google Ads and paid search were born.

We’ve also seen the explosion of image search, video search, news, and blogs, flights, shopping and finance are all major search types.

Featured snippets were a major change, actually pulling your website’s answer directly into Google’s searches engine results pages (SERPs) resulting in zero-click searches.

The Future of Google Search?

Now, we’re being promised Search Generative Experience (SGE) with the inclusion of AI in search. Except in the UK where we STILL don’t have access to it yet.

Performance Max is their fully AI-powered campaign tool.

We can’t always clearly see the inclusion of the incredible tools that Google has built into search over the past 25 years, like BERT, MUM, and LaMDA, but the results we get are heavily reliant on the legacy of these progressive technologies.

And where do we go next? Who knows?!

But surely Google will advance and adapt as it always has to remain the prime search tool for internet users all over the world.

Happy 25th Birthday, Google.


Logo of Clever Marketing - Digital Marketing Agency in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. Clever Marketing has only been around for 16 years but our team have been using Google for 25 years. We know the evolution of search and can help your business with SEO and PPC.

Call us on 01276 402 381 and ask how we can help you use Google to generate leads and increase sales.

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