Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both studying at Stanford, had the great idea of making a website on which you could find other websites. Brilliant!

Initially naming their invention BackRub, the unlikely duo took on what seemed a simple task but turned into a monumental undertaking resulting in a little company called Google.

Little did the pre-bubble world know that a tiny search engine, started in an American university before being turfed out for bandwidth hogging, would become one of the most influential companies on the planet!

Early versions of both BackRub and Google can still be found online at the links below:

It didn’t take long for Google to gain several key deals with the likes of Yahoo and DoubleClick, among many others, which lead to an explosion in Google’s search quality and reach.

Along the way Google innovated in several areas of internet search and user experience with services like Gmail, Image Search and Google Book Search (then called Google Print).

And the winner is…

Many companies have tried to compete with the services provided by Google, some with far larger budgets, but all have failed to some degree.

According to some reports, Google currently has about 65.5% of the global search market and a very large portfolio of other projects making many millions a year each.

Some reports put Google’s current market share at 85.75% with it’s closest rival being Yahoo with a measly 5.42%!

So how have Google done so well where others have often failed miserably?

What makes Google special?

What did Google do?

Apple and Google have one thing in common which I believe has lead both to success – Focus.

Google search let’s you search the internet. Google Mail provides hosted email. I could go on but let’s surmise with Google develops each product to be good at it’s core business.

Some companies, Yahoo is a good example, seem to try to hard to integrate all their services into one package resulting in a confused, and sometimes, overwhelming product.

I also believe the idea of providing high quality free services while charging advertisers for relevant promotional positions was more effective than planned and some companies still struggle with the idea that you can make money by giving stuff away!

So why am I rambling on incessantly about Google?

An evolving environment

They way we use the internet is changing partly due to the recent boom in social media and mobile devices.

More and more applications have built in search features for popular sites such as Wikipedia and Youtube and the content we want can often be accessed from these directly.

Google recently announced Search Plus your world which promises to offer results tailored to suit ones social habits and detected interests.

All seem right with the world. Search gets better resulting in more relevant results, as any sane business would.

…Right?

When I rule the world

Well, that depends on on several important factors, one of which being the compliance of social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter or the retention of it’s impressive user base.

Google has run into problems with many sites in the past over how it indexes their content.

It may seem obvious but Google can alter it’s search results to rank any website higher or lower as they see fit. It’s safe to assume that Google+ will be ranked higher than Twitter or FaceBook.

As Google’s portfolio expands past search, video, social media and other current projects, it will undoubtedly favour it’s own services in search results.

The new changes could, however, effect the way many websites are developed and marketed with new websites finding it hard to get a competitive amount of exposure.

Many complaints have been raised about anti-competitive behaviour by Google including some recent acusations of fraudulent activity, so they could soon be forced to change.

I think it is likely SEO would have to shift to take advantage of the higher weight Google’s services get in comparison to similar organic results.

Summary

Will Bing reinvent the wheel before the Mayans rise from their graves to eat our brains in December 2012 apocalypse?

Conspiratorial jokes aside; both are very unlikely but Google will need to be as innovative as ever if it wants to retain it’s currently dominant position in one of the most fickle markets.

Big changes to the way people search using Google are due, whatever happens this year!