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Google in 1998: A Reflective Journey Through History of Google

1998! This was the year when the digital landscape was just beginning to take shape, and two Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were about to change the game forever. Want to know more about this inspiring journey? Buckle up and read on about Google in 1998.

BackRub: The Predecessor to Google

google in 1998: Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the garage

Larry Page and Sergey Brin huddled in their Stanford dorm rooms, fueled by caffeine and a relentless passion for innovation. It was here that they conceived the idea of a revolutionary search engine, initially dubbed “BackRub”, a research project that was begun in 1996 when Larry and Sergey were PhD candidates at Stanford University in Stanford, California. The concept was simple yet groundbreaking: analyze the web’s interconnectedness to determine the relevance and importance of individual pages.

BackRub stood out for using a novel method to rank websites. It examined the quantity and calibre of links referring to a page rather than only its content. Said another way, the focus was entirely on determining how interconnected the web is. Sergey and Larry had no idea that BackRub was simply the start of something much larger.

Naming Google: From Mathematical Concept to Cultural Icon

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BackRub underwent a transformation like no other. Larry and Sergey rebranded their brainchild as “Google,” a playful nod to the mathematical term “googol“, representing the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. Thus, they take the word “googol”, give it a fun spin, and voilà—Google is created. Yes, it’s a little out of the ordinary, but then, so are they. They had no idea that they were going to produce a cultural icon that would influence how we use the internet going forward.

September 1998: A Milestone in Internet History

Google in 1998
image credit: Google in 1998

September 1998 was a time of great excitement on the internet. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are getting ready to establish Google, a groundbreaking new search engine. It’s been months, maybe years, in the making, and there’s a tangible sense of expectation. At last, the day comes. September 4, 1998. launches with a few mouse clicks, introducing a new method of web searching to the world. The days of awkward user interfaces and meaningless outcomes are long gone. Google is shockingly accurate, quick, and stylish. And with it, a significant accomplishment is made.

SEO’s Early Days: Cracking the Google Code

Cracking the Google Code illustration

Ah, the internet’s wild west, sometime in the late 1990s. You had to figure out the Google code back then if you wanted people to see your website. The problem is that nobody understood what that code meant. Now for search engine optimization or SEO. Equipped with keywords, meta tags, and link-building tactics, webmasters and marketers ventured forth into this uncharted territory in the realm of digital marketing. The objective was uncomplicated: rise in Google’s search results and enjoy the benefits of natural traffic. But it’s easier said than done. There was mystery surrounding Google’s algorithm, and deciphering it was no easy task.

Also Read: Characteristics of IoT (Internet of Things)

Keyword Stuffing and Link Building

Webmasters picked up the skill of “keyword stuffing” fast, adding as many keywords as they could to their material. Webmasters began stuffing their code with keywords in meta tags as the holy grail of SEO, hoping to attract Google’s attention. Not to be overlooked is connection building. Back then, quantity always won out over quality. Webmasters frequently exchanged links in order to boost their site’s authority in Google’s eyes.

Google AdWords: The Transformation of Internet Advertising

Google AdWords: The Transformation of Internet Advertising
Image credit: Google LLC

Alright, let’s speak about late 1990s internet advertising. To be true, it was a little bit of a chaos. Every webpage was overloaded with banner adverts, unexpected pop-ups appeared, and let’s not even talk about those annoying “You’ve Won!” ads that flashed. Then Google AdWords appeared, a glimmer of optimism in a deluge of digital noise. Advertisers now have an efficient and accurate method of reaching their intended demographic with AdWords.

Pay-per-click advertising: A game-changer!

Pay-per-click advertising illustration

Advertisers would place bids on keywords associated with their goods or services. This is how it operated. Their advertisement would be the first one to show up in Google’s search results when someone searches for one of those terms. It resembled magic. The best thing, though, is that marketers only get paid when a user clicks on their advertisement. Thus, “pay-per-click” advertising got its moniker. Offering advertisers, a quantifiable and economical means of increasing traffic and conversions, it was a game-changer. And with that, the online advertising era was irrevocably altered. Google AdWords, thank you!

Also Read: How to debloat Windows 11 From Junk Apps (Best Method)

Content Creation: Fueling Google’s Growth

Illustration of Content Creation: Fueling Google's Growth

Rewind to the late 1990s, when content reigned supreme, and the internet resembled the American West. The need for high-quality material increased dramatically with the rise of Google. All of a sudden, and understandably so, everyone was trying to produce material that would place highly in Google search results. Google was insatiably hungry for new, pertinent material. The more material you produced, the more popular you were on Google. A union made in digital heaven, as it were.

Useful Content and Google’s Expansion

Google acted as the guardian of the internet illustration

The internet become a little bit richer, a little bit more educational, and a little bit more linked with each blog post, article, and video. Google devoured anything as long as it was useful and instructive for people. The truth is, though, that producing content wasn’t solely done to please Google. It was all about holding your audience’s attention and proving to be a reliable authority in your field. Ultimately, while Google acted as the guardian of the internet, the secret to success was your audience. Thus, the development of content became essential to Google’s expansion.

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird: The Evolution of Google’s Algorithms

Now let’s discuss Google’s algorithms. You know, those enigmatic algorithms that decide which web pages show up first in the search results? Yes, those particular ones. Google’s algorithm was a mystery in the late 1990s. Although nobody was truly sure how it operated, everyone was attempting to figure it out. And Google would throw you a curveball just when you thought you had everything figured out.

Here are three of the most notable algorithm changes in Google history: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. The SEO community was rocked by these changes, and webmasters were forced to change or risk falling behind.

  • Pandas 2011 launch focused only on high-quality content. Websites with dense, poor-quality information were penalized, and those with dense, educational content were rewarded.
  • After that, in 2012, Penguin was introduced. Penguin’s main goal was to stop using spammy link-building techniques. You were going to suffer greatly if you were discovered purchasing or exchanging connections.
  • And lastly, there was the 2013 release of Hummingbird. Understanding user intent was crucial to Hummingbird. Even in situations when the user did not provide the exact query, it made use of natural language processing to present more pertinent search results.
YearAlgorithm UpdateKey Focus
1998BackRub (original algorithm)Analyzed backlinks to determine webpage importance
1999PageRankRefined BackRub, assigning weights to backlinks based on source importance
2000Google Toolbar PageRankIntroduced PageRank scores to the public through a browser toolbar
2003Florida UpdateTargeted link schemes and excessive keyword stuffing
2004Florida Update 2Further addressed link manipulation and keyword stuffing
2005Brandy UpdateFocused on improving search results for complex or ambiguous queries
2006Jagger UpdateTargeted low-quality content and doorway pages
2007Caffeine UpdateImproved the indexing and ranking of fresh content
2009Vince UpdateEnhanced the handling of synonyms and related searches
2010Panda UpdateTargeted low-quality content farms and thin content
2011Google InstantIntroduced real-time search suggestions as users type
2011Panda Update 2.0Further refined the Panda algorithm to target broader content quality issues
2012Penguin UpdateTargeted websites engaging in webspam tactics like link buying and keyword stuffing
2013Hummingbird UpdateFocused on understanding the semantic meaning of search queries and user intent
2014Panda Update 3.0Continued improvements to content quality assessment
2015RankBrain UpdateIntroduced machine learning to personalize search results and understand complex queries
2016Penguin Update 4.0Integrated Penguin algorithm into core ranking system
2017Fred UpdateTargeted websites with low-quality content and aggressive advertising
2018Medic UpdateFocused on improving the quality of search results for health-related queries
2019BERT UpdateFurther enhanced understanding of search queries using natural language processing
2019BERT Update 2.0Extended BERT’s capabilities to handle more complex and nuanced queries
2020Featured Snippets UpdateRefined the selection process for featured snippets displayed on search results pages
Major Google Search Algorithm Updates (1998-2024)

The SEO community was awakened by these improvements. You could no longer manipulate the system with keyword stuffing or dubious link-building strategies. You had to follow Google’s guidelines if you wanted to appear highly in its search results, or else you risked the risk of falling behind.

Also Read: Add Me To Search, Add Yourself to Google Search & Google’s People Card

Looking Ahead: The Future of Google and SEO

Now, let’s go ahead and jump to the present—or is it better to say the future? One thing is certain as we peer into the crystal ball of the digital landscape: exciting times are coming for Google and SEO. Search engines are getting smarter than ever thanks to developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. The speed at which Google’s algorithm is developing means that it is continuously improving its capacity to discern user intent and provide tailored search experiences. What does this imply for SEO, then?

Looking Ahead The Future of Google and SEO illustration
  • This indicates that a new era is upon us, one in which conventional SEO strategies might no longer be effective.
  • Although meta tags and keywords are still crucial, they are only one aspect of a much bigger picture.
  • SEO experts of today must consider more than just keywords and keep an eye on the whole picture.
  • Three essential elements of contemporary SEO methods are technological optimization, content quality, and user experience.
  • Simply having a good search engine ranking is no longer sufficient; you also need to add value to your audience and build genuine relationships with them.

However, that’s precisely why SEO is so fascinating, isn’t it?

Legacy of 1998: Google’s Lasting Impact on the Digital World

Legacy of Google in 1998 is Lasting Impact on the Digital World

Let’s pause to consider the legacy of 1998—the year that saw the creation of Google and fundamentally altered the digital world. The internet was full of confusion and mayhem back then, much like the untamed West. Google altered everything. It helped people locate the information they were looking for by bringing order to the chaos. Moreover, Google’s influence extends beyond search. It has completely changed the way we interact with one another, conduct business, and get around. Google has shaped our daily lives and the way we engage with technology and each other.


1998 will always be remembered as a turning point in the history of the internet since it was the year that Google was founded, and a new era of digital discovery began.  Leading the way at Google, we started a journey that is still running strong today and paving the way for further innovations. As we look at this significant event, let’s virtually applaud the pioneers like Larry and Sergey, whose spirit of innovation transformed the way we engage with the modern world. Cheers to Google’s 1998 founding and all the unbounded possibilities it will continue to open up!


1. What Happens When You Do A Google Search For “Google In 1998”?

Google tucks away a unique feature as a playful Easter egg! You can travel back in time by searching for “Google in 1998” and see an exact duplicate of the first search engine interface. You can take a nostalgic look back at Google’s early years, peruse the basic design, and investigate early search results.

2. How Do You Know If Google Was Invented In 1998?

There are several pieces of evidence.
Historical data: Press reports and corporate announcements confirm Google’s establishment in 1998, and public sources validate this date as well.
Company details: On its main website and other channels, Google acknowledges its establishment in 1998.
Academic papers: The early development of Google is described in depth in Page and Brin’s 1998 research paper, “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.

3. Who Created The Google Search Engine?

The Google search engine was created by Stanford University doctoral students Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

4. Is Google A Company?

Indeed, Google is a multinational technology company that is presently an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary. Although it began as a search engine, it has since grown to provide a wide range of goods and services.

5. Why Did Larry Page And Sergey Brin Start Google?

Larry Page And Sergey Brin thought they could develop a more efficient method of accessing and organizing web content as they were dissatisfied with the shortcomings of the search engines that were already in place. “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” was their stated mission.

Devika Rani S R
Devika Rani S R

PhD scholar with more than eight years of experience in crafting content strategies across cybersecurity, AI, Edtech, and manufacturing. She has collaborated with governments and corporates in India, the US, Europe, and Africa. Beyond the digital realm, she is a drama trainer and a classical dancer who brings creativity to both screens and stages.

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