Google Tactics

Delivering the goods

There’s no doubting Google’s power and popularity. Yet few of us use the search engine effectively. Jack Schofield offers some tips

Thursday January 8, 2004
The Guardian

Google is now the world’s most powerful website, and if it goes public this year, its young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, will become extremely rich. Their five-year-old company has already cracked its biggest problem, which is how to make pots of money from selling advertising space without carrying any banner ads. And while there are other places to search the web, most websites are now dependent on Google for a large proportion of their new visitors. The question that drives all but a few commercial webmasters today is: “How do I change my site to make it appear on the first page when someone searches Google?”

What is even more impressive is that Google has achieved its supremacy by word of mouth: by delivering what users want. That has helped it retain users’ confidence while doing things that might have raised concerns about invasion of privacy elsewhere. For example, Google almost certainly knows more about you than you would tell your mother. Did you ever search for information about Aids, cancer, mental illnesses or bomb-making equipment? Google knows, because it has put a unique reference number in a permanent cookie on your hard drive (which doesn’t expire until 2038). It also knows your internet (IP) address.