Lagos, 26 September — This month marks a major milestone for the world’s most popular search engine, as Google turns 20. Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, with the aim of organising the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful, the Search Index now contains hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100 000 000 gigabytes in size.
It is, by some distance, the world’s number one search engine. This is, in no small part, thanks to its efforts to ensure that users can instantly access information that is contextually relevant to them and their surroundings.
From humble origins in a Stanford University computer lab, Search has evolved to become a vital part of most people’s lives. People use it for everything ‒ from looking at the weather to plan their outfit the next day, to searching for life-saving procedures in the middle of a medical emergency.
“Search is a very different product from what it was in 1998,” says Google Nigeria Country Manager Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor. “Far from simply being a way to find information, it has become a crucial social and economic tool. This is especially true in Africa, where it has proven invaluable in helping people find jobs, start businesses, and even save money”.
In Nigeria, Google is constantly working on giving people the best possible search experience. The latest efforts to do so include:
- Text-to-speech with word highlighting in Google Go: a new audio-visual feature on Google Go to help users listen and better understand written online content
- Job Search Experience expansion: expansion of our Job Search experience feature to 20 countries in Africa, in English, Portuguese and French
- Recipe Search: a new search experience to explore recipe options for popular meals around the web
- Health Symptom Search: a new experience to explore health conditions related to symptoms
- In 2017, Google launched more than 270 000 experiments and made more than 2 400 improvements to its algorithms, and continues to launch new features to make Search more useful for everyone
- More than 1 000 person-years have gone into developing the Google search algorithm
- PageRank is just one of more than 200 signals that Google uses to determine the rank of a website
- When Google began, a new index was rolled out roughly every month. Today, Google generally indexes popular content from news sites and blogs within seconds or minutes of publication. For more static content, Google still updates a large fraction of its index every few days
- 15% of searches every day are new
- More than half of searches come from outside the United States, i.e. Brazil, India and Indonesia are in the top 10 countries with the highest Search volume
- Nearly one-third of searches came from Next Billion User (NBU) countries like Indonesia, India, Nigeria and South Africa in 2017
- 20% of users in NBU countries search in two or more languages
- India is the number two country for mobile search queries (behind the US)
- Between December 2016 and December 2017, the number of daily mobile Search users more than doubled in India
- Search is available on 192 international domains (such as .jp for Japan)
- The Knowledge Graph is available in 46 languages: English, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (LatAm), French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Polish, Turkish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Hebrew, Dutch, Romanian, Swedish, Hungarian, Greek, Danish, Czech, Arabic, Finnish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Norwegian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Hindi, Filipino, Persian, Catalan, Malay, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi and Bengali, and Portuguese (Portugal)
- Every year, there are trillions of searches on Google and over half of those searches happen on mobile
- Google has indexed over 130 trillion web addresses so far
- The Knowledge Graph maps out how more than 1 billion things in the real world are connected, and offers over 70 billion facts about them
- Google’s average query response time is roughly a quarter of a second. The average blink of an eye is a tenth of a second
“Looking forward, there’s little doubt that the evolution of Search over the next 20 years will be as dramatic as the past 20,” says Ehimuan-Chiazor. “And, with an online population of 103 million, there’s every chance that Nigeria will be at the forefront of that evolution”.