Google Shows Evolution of Search, Launches Interactive Timeline

Official Google representatives have given their feedback on how Google has evolved, what its priorities are, and where the future will take us. The company has also included a six-minute video and a visual timeline.

The Google Search of Yore

When it was first released, Google search had no ads or other system of monetization. In 2000 the company developed AdWords, but kept two specific goals in mind: ensuring that ads were clearly labeled as such and making the ads as relevant to the search as possible. As Ben Gomes, Google Fellow, put it, search’s goal remained the same: “provide the most relevant information for the user in the fastest time possible.”

In the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001, Google realized that their search engine was incapable of delivering timely results for newsworthy topics; people around the world were searching for information and updates on the tragedy, and Google’s month-old index had nothing to offer. While they patched in a solution by giving links to major news outlets on the Google search page, the realization of this shortcoming also led to Google News.

As users increasingly trusted search, they also raised their expectations. To help users find information more quickly, Google released image search capabilities in 2001. Image search evolved into on-SERP image placement in 2002, then later into Universal Search, which brought videos, news stories, and other rich data to the SERP.

Google’s Marissa Mayer noted the difficulty of doing this work effectively, since the algorithm had to find a way to compare apples and oranges, displaying the most relevant results across categories.

In the more recent past, Google has focused on speed, with Quick Answers seeing upgrades in 2010 and 2011 and with 2010’s Google Instant bringing users results before they even finish typing, though it seems many Google searchers are ignoring this feature.

Here’s Google’s evolution of search video:

You can check out Google’s interactive timeline here.

The Google of the Future

Several recent development indicate a bright future for search outside of just typing in queries. Both voice search and image search, innovations rooted in the mobile experience, have spread to the desktop environment. But Google isn’t done yet.

Google Fellow Amit Singhal said, “My dream has always been to build the Star Trek computer.” For him, this means Google should be able to answer complex queries in a simple way, and that users should be able to ask those questions in a natural manner. Singhal notes, though, that even answering complex queries effectively won’t be the end; users will simply raise the bar again, and Google will try to meet and exceed those new expectations.

Do you think Google will continue as the leader in the field? What adaptations are you looking forward to most? What can Google learn from other competitors in the industry? Leave your thoughts in the comments, below.

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