Google Goes Forward
From The Search Engine Report
July 6, 1999
While I've considered Google a "major player" in the search space for some time, the deal with Netscape gives it a mass audience for the first time, along with its first business deal.
So what's next? Is Google planning to follow an Inktomi-style model and power other services, or was Netscape a one-off, with future efforts focused on finally taking the Google.com site itself out of "beta" mode and into prime time? Google cofounder and CEO Larry Page doesn't see the two as necessarily exclusive.
"We'd like to provide services to people where there's an opportunity to do that," Page said. "I don't see that there's a conflict."
In particular, he feels that way because the Google site itself will stay focused mainly around search. There's no intention to build a full-fledged portal property meant to take on the likes of Yahoo and gang. "That reduces the competition we have with people we might work with," Page said.
That doesn't mean Google.com will feature search and only search, however.
"I won't say we won't add services, but we wouldn't put free email on our site unless we thought we could do a much better job," Page said. "Google is about high quality products. If we add random services, we don't think that adds value."
As for what and when things will happen at Google.com, Page is staying quiet. "You're likely to see some changes soon, but I can't say when or what they are going to be," he said.
Whatever happens, search will remain the top priority. "Our goal is to produce no holds barred, the best search available," Page said.
Google's well on its way toward that goal. I've spent more time at the service recently, trying a variety of queries from the simple to complex. It performs extremely well on all of them. There's a lot of hype on the Internet, but Google lives up to its buzz.
Of course, much is made about Google's use of link popularity to rank results, but another thing to like about it is the fact that it may return results for pages it can't visit due to robots.txt bans or other crawling problems.
How can Google do this? It comes back to links. One of the things Google does is look at the text in and around hyperlinks, which it can then use to help define the pages the links point at. If it sees many pages point at the same site and using particular words, then it can tell that site may be relevant for those words -- even if it has never visited the actual site.
This naturally improves Google's comprehensiveness. Page says Google has indexed about 70 to 100 million web pages, but through link analysis, he estimates searches cover up to 300 million pages on the web. No other major search service comes close to that number. True, it's not the same as full-text indexing of 300 million pages, but the point is that Google has a pretty broad reach.
As for freshness, Page said Google tries to update the bulk of its index each month, though some pages may be refreshed on a daily basis.
Counting Clicks and Looking at Links
The Search Engine Report, Aug. 1998
Background about Google.
Do You Google?
About Web Search Guide, June 29, 1999
Nice, recent profile on Google, with some search tips.
Can Google's search engine find profits?
MSNBC, June 14, 1999
Lots of speculation on how Google plans to make money, in lieu of real details.