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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Google celebrates fifth birthday
Google logo
Everyone knows the logo
The world's most popular site for searching the web, Google, is five years old.

It is now an internet giant, used by millions of people every day in more than 80 languages.

The search engine site moved to its first office, actually a garage, in Menlo Park, California on 7 September 1998.

This move was helped by the $1m in funding it received from investors, family and friends shortly before.

Back then, Google was just four employees, its search system was still being refined and it was handling little more than 10,000 queries per day.

History lesson

Now it handles more than 200 million and Google has become a phenomenon that has transcended its online origins.

It has expanded beyond just searches to encompass comparison shopping, news, web logs and even a service that blocks pop-up ads.

200 million searches a day
3.1 billion web pages indexed
More than 1,000 employees
Google based on word googol, which refers to the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros
Now Google is a noun, adjective and verb. For instance "to Google" is to use the search engine to check someone out before you meet them.

Google grew out of computer research by its founders Stanford University PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The pair initially called their search system BackRub that was so named because it checked the links back to a page to see how popular it was.

The pair reasoned that a popular or useful page was likely to have more links to it.

To this they have added a system that ensures that links from pages that themselves are considered important carry more weight than other pages.

On top of this, Google assesses the importance of a page by analysing the text on it for keywords and concepts related to a subject.

Clicks and tricks

The result is a webpage and search engine that are central to the way that many people use the web and the first page people see when they go online.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google
Google creators Page and Brin
One measure of Google's influence is the lengths that people go to in order to ensure a high search rank.

In this sense Google is starting to define how the net is organised.

Many people now actively try to catch out Google's indexing technology.

Some put together huge numbers of self-referential pages, bolstered with lots of text to try to boost their rankings for particular searches.

Web logs, or blogs, pose a particular problem for Google as one of their defining features is the links they have to other blogs.

As the numbers of blogs has grown the influence they have over rankings has increased. In some cases blogs referring to a webpage on a particular subject are ranked higher than the page itself.

To combat this Google has reportedly considered creating an index just for the web journals.

Google dance

Many net consultants are making a living advising firms on the best way to put together their webpage to ensure it gets high up the Google rankings.

They have identified a phenomenon known as the Google dance.

This is something that happens every 36 days or so when Google updates its index and tweaks its search system.

For a few days the results you will get back from Google's nine servers, which can be searched independently, will vary widely.

Now Google has stopped simply reflecting the organisation of the web. Instead a high Google rank for a search now defines a page's quality and relevance.

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