Google turns 25: A look at the world’s top performing searches

Al Jazeera visualises the most popular global search terms as the world’s top search engine turns 25.

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Google is celebrating its 25th birthday on Wednesday.

The world’s most popular search engine started as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both doctoral students at Stanford University in the late 1990s.

Working from their dorm rooms, the two developed a new algorithm for search engines that ranked websites based on the number of other websites that linked to them, which they called PageRank. This algorithm proved to be much more effective than the existing algorithms, and Google quickly became the most popular search engine on the web.

Although Google Inc was officially incorporated on September 4, the company celebrates its birthday on September 27 to commemorate a new milestone in the number of pages that the company was indexing on its search engine.

As of last month, Google had a global market share of about 92 percent. Its nearest competitor, Bing, held about 3 percent market share, followed by Yahoo at just over 1 percent.

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(Al Jazeera)

Google’s name is derived from the mathematical term “googol”, which refers to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The choice of this name reflects the founders’ intention to organise large amounts of information.

Through the years, the Google search engine has become an integral part of our daily lives, shaping the way we search, communicate and interact with information online.

In 2006, the Oxford Dictionary added the word “google” as a verb to refer to searching for information on the internet, regardless of the search engine used.

That same year, Google launched Google Trends, an online platform that provides a window into the trillions of searches the world googles each year. At the end of each year, Google releases its “Year in Search”, which summarises the biggest events, personalities and trends that captured the world’s attention that year.

Al Jazeera compiled all these reports and visualised the top five global search terms from 2003 to 2022.

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What were the most searched categories?

To get a better picture of which categories these 100 search terms fit into, we grouped them into six categories:

  • Person, celebrity, politician (38 appearances)
  • Technology products (27 appearances)
  • Sports event (15 appearances)
  • Disaster, accident (eight appearances)
  • Movie, TV show, song (seven appearances)
  • Other (five appearances)
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(Al Jazeera)

The most popular searched category was that of people, celebrities or politicians with 38 percent of all appearances. Among these results were Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II.

Technology products appeared the second most frequently with 27 appearances. These include Myspace, Facebook, Apple’s iPhone, Pokemon Go and Zoom.

Next up were sporting events with 15 appearances, including several FIFA World Cups, the NBA and more than a handful of big cricket matches.

With eight appearances were natural disasters and accidents, including Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 tsunami, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and COVID-19.

Movies, TV shows and songs had seven results, including Harry Potter, The Matrix, American Idol, Gangnam Style and Black Panther.

Other top searches include the Ice Bucket Challenge, Paris, election results, Wordle and Ukraine.

Source: Al Jazeera