The Search | John Battelle

Summary of: The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture
By: John Battelle


Welcome to the exciting world of ‘The Search,’ where we explore how Google and its rivals have transformed the way we do business and interact with our surroundings in this digital age. Prepare to dive into the fascinating history of Internet searching and the rise of Google as the dominant player in the industry. Learn about the pivotal moments and innovations that helped shape the search landscape as we know it today, the challenges faced by search companies, and how search engines are more than just practical tools – they are virtual archives of human intentions and cultural consciousness.

Unleashing the Power of Internet Search

This piece explores the evolution of search engines, with a specific focus on Google. Although Google wasn’t the first search engine, it revolutionized the process of fulfilled curiosity, shaping modern expectations around how we use the internet. The search engine’s primary product, internet searching, remains largely unchanged from its inception in the 1970s. The basic search process comprises three elements: the crawl, the index, and the query processor. Crawlers search for keywords on web pages and return them back to be indexed. The indexed words are then processed and associated with URLs, and search companies examine hundreds of parameters to ensure relevance to users’ inquiries. Searchers enter their requests using query server software that can now help define their searches. The search industry samples user inquiries to provide relevant search results and continue to expand as more individuals type inquiries into databases, unleashing the power of search engines and driving web-based ventures.

The Power of Internet Search Companies

Internet search companies are projected to be a $23 billion business category by 2010, and their ability to match people with relevant suppliers is why they are driving the stock market’s interest. Google’s search engine, in particular, has over 225,000 unique advertisers and is attractive to advertisers because it brings them cheap leads for new business. Experts predict Google and Yahoo alone will generate revenues of at least $140 million per month. These companies’ future growth will come from other search engines and businesses seeking better ways to attract customers. Creating more targeted advertising is one such way they plan to do that.

Google’s Early Days

When Larry Page became intrigued with the Web while searching for a dissertation topic, he began investigating the links to various Web sites. This led him to create a system to track academic citations or annotations in online publications. The problem of tracking links backward drove Page’s “BackRub” project, which uncovered links, deposited them in an accessible index and made them visible. Together with Sergey Brin, Page developed “PageRank,” a prioritizing system that measured the number of links connecting related sites. They launched Google in August 1996 as a tool on the Stanford University Web site, naming it a variation of googol. Although initially, no one was interested in buying Google, they received $100,000 from a local investor who was impressed by their demonstration, which led to the incorporation of Google. As the company grew, it needed more space and more capital. With a growth rate of 50% per month and a valuation of $100 million, Google garnered $25 million in initial funding. However, it became apparent that the company lacked a business plan that would enable it to generate revenue.

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