Explore The Incredible 20-Year Journey of Google Search

By Women Love Tech
on 30 December 2018

In 1998, the web consisted of just 25 million pages, today Google index hundreds of billions of pages, offering Search in more than 150 languages and 190 countries. On paper, 1998 doesn’t seem so long ago, but to put things into perspective, here are a few things that happened in the same year that Google was founded.

1. Europeans agreed on a joint currency — the Euro

2. Microsoft became the biggest company in the world

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out

4. The most popular mobile phone looked like this:


And, the first Google Search logo looked like this:

At the time, free of ads with search results at its most basic form, in the space of 20 years, Google went through some drastic changes, whether it be conceptually and/or technologically; Ben Gomes explains more in-depth:

Google between 2001 and 2007, started introducing incredibly convenient features, that now seem so simple and habitual to us. Functions such as ‘Google Instant’ (possible results displayed as you type), ‘Google Suggest’, the infamous “Did you mean…?”, ‘Advanced Search’, inclusion of synonyms, ‘Autocorrect’ for spelling mistakes, etc, may all seem like minute additions, when in fact they are things that we use every day every time we search something on Google.


The first big change to the search engine occurred in 2007 with the introduction of ‘Universal Search’ which gave people broader access to online content. ‘Universal Search’ helps to explain how features such as Maps, News, Videos, Images, Shopping, and Books now exist, especially since the inclusion of localised searches.



“You can think about it as you would your kitchen cupboards. On a daily basis you can take things out and put things in and things work just fine. But what happens when your partner moves in with you and you have a couple of kids (or 100 as would be the case in this metaphor for Google). And let’s also add to that an influx into the house of new types of foods. It might be time not just to rearrange the products but completely rebuild the shelves. That’s what Google did with Caffeine.”



Google Doodles had existed since the launch of Google with the reference to the ‘Burning Man Festival’ in 1998, but in 2010, Google released their first interactive Google Doodle in the form of Pac Man.



“OK, Google” — users of Google Chrome and Chrome OS could now initiate a search by simply saying the phrase “OK Google”. After the answer had shown up, users could also ask a follow-up question within the same context of the previous question.


2018: So, What’s New?

For Google’s 20th birthday, they’ve given us a present, by introducing the next chapter consisting of three “fundamental shifts” and a total of 12 new changes.

A shift from answers to journeys

  • Retrace your steps with activity cards
  • Collections — add your activity cards to Collections to easily find it when needed; perfect for recipes!
  • Dynamic organisation of search results
  • A new Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph

The shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get to information

  • A new name and look
  • Evergreen content
  • More context and control
  • Discover in multiple languages

The shift from text to a more visual way of finding information

  • Immersive visual content with stories
  • Visually preview topics with featured videos Search
  • Tapping the power of the web page
  • Explore within an image using AI with Lens in Google Images

Google has evolved from when it started as a research project proposed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University in 1996, to now being undoubtedly the biggest search engine in the world.

Every year they seem to better themselves by adding that one extra feature here and there, that we as consumers seem to overlook. Looking back at a timeline of the incredible amount of additions they’ve made over the last 20 years, it’s only then that we realise the extent to which they’ve been important to us.

How else would we find a place to eat near us? Or check to see if a store is open on Sunday and if it is, until what time? Comment pouvons-nous lire ce texte, si il est en français? Easy — Google translate or translate the page in its entirety, that part in French says: How can we read this piece of text, if it’s in French?

Imagine, 20 years ago, if someone told you that in the near future, you’d be able to type in a city or a place in a search bar and instantly be able to digitally visit that area through Google Earth (even though, for some reason, we all visit our own house instead).

On Google’s 20th birthday, we celebrate two decades of pure innovation.

To see the in-depth details of the new features, check out: https://www.blog.google/products/search/improving-search-next-20-years/

Women Love Tech would like to thank Emeric Brard for this story

More About Emeric Brard

Emeric Brard is a regular contributor for Women Love Tech. He is a journalist who specialises in sport and technology. He currently runs his own football blog ArsenalBlogWeekly, which focuses on the performances of Arsenal Football Club. Ever since the age of six, Emeric has been watching and playing football, and has notably played in Australia, France, and currently England. In addition to that, he has experience working at The Carousel, Channel 9, 2GB, as well as The Daily Telegraph. Emeric studied Communications and Media at Loughborough University in the UK.

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