How Google Works

What began as a project by two students in Stanford University's Ph.D. program is now one of the most influential companies in the world. Adam Berry/Getty Images

What began in the late 1990s as a research project helmed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students in Stanford University's Ph.D. program, is now one of the most influential companies in the world: Google. At first, the students' goal was to make an efficient search engine that gave users relevant links in response to search requests.

While search is still Google's core purpose, the company now provides services and goods ranging from (among many) email and photo storage to productivity software (the Google Docs suite), the internet browser Chrome, the mobile operating system Android, Chrome laptops and the Pixel mobile phone. Google has evolved from that two-man enterprise into a multibillion-dollar corporation. In 2015, it restructured and is now the jewel of parent company Alphabet, making it one of the biggest and richest companies in the world.


Google has long been the most visited site on the Web, too, making the company's influence on commerce and culture undeniable [source: Lifewire]. Practically every webmaster wants his or her site listed high on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) because that almost always translates into more traffic. Google has also acquired other Internet companies, ranging from blogging services to YouTube. For a while, the company's search technology even powered rival companies' search engines: Yahoo relied on Google searches for nearly four years until developing its own search engine technologies in 2004 [source: Google].

In this article, we'll learn about the backbone of Google's business, its search engine. We'll also look at other services Google offers. Then we'll take a quick peek at some of the tools, both software and hardware, that Google has developed over the years. We'll also learn more about the equipment Google uses to keep its massive operation running. Finally, we'll take a closer look at Google, the company.