Google's dominance of online searches continues
Dec. 5, 2011
by Mark Ollig

Google began as a research project in 1996 by two doctor of philosophy degree students at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.

“The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” was the name of the scientific paper written in 1998 by Google founders, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

This paper described the original Google prototype, and the important computational algorithm called PageRank.

Using more than 100 computational algorithmic factors, the top search results presented to the user are based on a page with a higher page ranking.

Google is certainly unique in how it performs text searches.

Its basic word search engine has three separate parts.

The first is called a Googlebot.

This web-crawler (computer software program) speedily “crawls” and browses through the hyper-linked pages of the Web. It quickly makes copies of web pages in a very logical and automated manner.

Next, the Google Indexer will sort out every word on every page and will store this index of words in a very large computer server database.

Currently, I believe Google has six of these monster-sized databases.

The content found inside the Google index servers is comparable to the index in the back of a book; it tells which pages contain the words that match any particular query-search term.

The third part is the Query-Processor, which compares your search query against the Indexer and presents the documents in the results page that it considers the most applicable using its special software algorithmic computations.

Google, according to the June 2011 comScore Core Search Report, owned a commanding 65.5 percent of the online search engine market.

This percentage alone leaves little doubt about its dominance in the online search engine world.

However, a couple of serious competitors will just not go away.

They are Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

These two competitors, according to the same June 2011 report, control a combined 30.3 percent of the total online search engine pie.

Yahoo’s search engine (online in 1994) maintained a 15.9 percent market share.

Bing (online since 2009) controlled a 14.4 percent share of the online search market.

I also want to mention Ask.com (formerly known as Ask Jeeves in 1996), which came in with a 2.9 percent share.

During the month of June, 2.4 billion searches were performed on Bing, 2.7 billion using Yahoo, and 10.9 billion with Google.

It is apparent from these numbers that Google will continue to dominate the online search world for the foreseeable future.

Yours truly regularly uses Google because it performs a thorough search of the Web, it is well supported, and they keep adding new and interesting search tools to it.

The newest search tool is Google’s “Search by Image.” This uses a photo from the Web or your own uploaded picture as the search input. Google will use your photo to search for related text information or similar images on the Web.

This feature is somewhat comparable to the Google Goggles visual search app, which is available for your Android 2.1 or iPhone running iOS 4.0.

Search by Image allows for a picture search on a variety of subjects such as art, venues, and, according to Google, “mysterious creatures.”

You can try Google’s Search by Image at http://images.google.com and just click the camera icon.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) partnered with Google for assistance in providing small businesses with tools to help them achieve online success. To see their video about a hair salon business that went online, check out http://tinyurl.com/35pyr3q.

Some folks have questioned whether Google, because it is so large, should be regulated like a public utility.

Google responds by saying the online user has a choice whether or not to use its services.

Google’s page ranking seems to be another point of concern, as some people feel their businesses are not fairly ranked.

Google responds to this by saying they “never take actions that would hurt a specific website for competitive reasons.”

The search quality and results, according to Google, are provided only on the basis of what is useful for consumers.

As far as the dollars go, research shows Google had $64 billion in US economic activity in 2010.

In Minnesota, this amount was $1.07 billion.

Google said these numbers are obtained by examining the number of businesses, website publishers, and non-profits using their search and advertising tools.

As all of us know, we do have the power to click onto any search engine (or other online source) we choose to use.

Lately, I have noticed people searching for information by querying social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

People are posting messages asking for information on various topics . . . and sometimes they end up participating in productive online conversations within these social networks.

“My dream has always been to build a “Star Trek” computer, and in my ideal world, I would be able to walk up to a computer and say, ‘what is the best time for me to sow seeds in India, given that [the] monsoon was early this year,’” said Amit Singhal, who is a software engineer with Google.

Singhal received his M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1991.

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