The Internet is defining a new multifaceted culture, and Google is defining the Internet.
Google is just a search engine, meaning a place to find indexed content online. But it is the way it ranks content that influences the content itself.
Google was created by two Generation Xers, Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin, in their Stanford dorm room.
For a pair of Generation X’ers who came of age amid a confusing post-modern landscape, their philosophies are far from postmodern. They told ABC: “We have a mantra: ‘Don’t be evil,’ which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone,” Page said. “So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.” (ABCnews.com 2-14-04)
Brin added: “Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”
These innovators took a minimalist approach to their website. Google’s home page had but one function: to search, while other search engines turned into shopping centers and news sites.
Google stood in stark contrast to this growing trend, keeping an almost Zen-like simplistic interface with no advertising and only a few relevant links to other internal pages.
But if simplicity was the allure, the Google algorithm was the magic that made it famous. Google uses a special, constantly updated algorithm to determine which what sites to list at the top of each search.
When a website appears at the top, it means people are much more likely to visit it.
Google is secret about the exact algorithm they used to compute their search results, like a restaurant hiding its secret ingredient.
However, the basic premise of the Google algorithm is simple: display pages in order of popularity.
Popularity is measured by how many other relevant Web pages reference a certain page. The more Web pages that link to Page A, the more popular Page A is.
Google also takes into consideration the popularity of the linking pages, as well as a host of other unknown factors that can change daily, keeping Web developers spinning in circles trying to figure it out.
So why does this matter? Because search engines are where Internet users turn when seeking help or services on endless amounts of online offerings.
Market research has shown that the highest conversion rates, where online visitors become buyers, are achieved through high placement in search engine results.
Unlike passively watching a television ad, people who go to Google are actively seeking out specific products or services.
That means the search engines are controlling the money.
So if you’re website is not popular, meaning that not many other websites link to it, then your website will barely be noticed on Google.
So webmasters wanting their sites to be ranked high by Google began creating free content and distributing as widely as possible, Doing this would naturally lead to people linking back to if it were good content, which in turn means more popularity, which mean higher ranking in Google.
This has also led some news organizations to publish their news online free to the public because every single page links back to their home page and therefore gains popularity. It has helped encourage companies to publish more documentation, its inspired Internet providers to host free online services such as discussion boards on a variety of topics, all to increase their ranking with Google.
So in effect, Google has become not only a catalyst for growth on the Internet, but a promoter of information sharing and openness.