Just How Big is Google?
Google is the number one search engine, everyone knows that, but how big is Google really? Google is more than just a search engine, the also own YouTube, Blogger, AdSense and many other websites and services. The Android operating system on your Smartphone is owned by Google. The most popular RSS feeder, Feedburner belongs to Google. Google Reader is the largest RSS reader. Millions if not billions of website administrators and owners use Google Analytics to analyze how their websites are used and how to improve them. Don’t forget Google Maps and StreetView.
So you can see, it is a very large company with holdings in almost every area of the internet and technology. Just about everywhere you go on the web, Google is there. It is hard to really put a number on how popular Google and its products and services are, but it is estimated Google has a user base of over 1 billion. What started out as a venture by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brinn in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in California in 1998, has now become a billion dollar entity. This phenomenal growth can be attributed to not only smart management, but answering a need for the growing internet; the need for a fast, relevant way to search for information. The mid and late 90’s saw several search engines start up and fail. But Google has stood the test of time because they continue to offer users what they need.
Google can offer free searches because their main source of revenue is ads. Google collects search histories, which ads you click on, what websites you visit, and you locations. They use all of this information to target ads which will interest users. Have you ever noticed when you do a search the ads on the right side of your page are for your local area? This is an effort to present you with choices you may actually be interested in. If you live in Chicago, you probably won’t be interested for an ad for a company in Tampa. It is this local emphasis that makes Google ads so successful.
So what does all of this mean to the average web user? First you need to be aware that Google is tracking all of your searches. They do take all personal information off of the search data after about six months, but they keep the search history forever. They also track where you use their search engine and other sites and products. Country specific Google searches hone in on location even further.
If you aren’t comfortable with a company like Google knowing almost every move you make on the internet, you may want to make use of a Virtual Privacy Network (VPN) and change your cookie settings on your browser. With a VPN you can appear to be in a different location, encrypt the data that you send and receive, and cut down on what websites can collect about you. Google is huge, and is a powerful tool. If you want to keep your internet usage to yourself, look into a VPN and keep your data private.