by Jonathon Walsh and William Steele 

The world’s largest online search engine was given a human face at the May 10, 2005 EA-Tokyo seminar when Norio Murakami, President of Google Japan Inc., spoke to a packed house about the past, present and future of Google.

In a revealing seminar, Murakami spoke about the Mountain View, California company whose name has become synonymous — and a verb — with searching the Web. Google, coined from the word “Googol”, a mathematical term for a one followed by 100 zeros, opened for business in September 1998 with a $100,000 personal cheque that Stanford University graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin used to incorpo­rate their tiny company.

Any entrepreneur who ever doubted the raw power of a good idea unleashed at the right time will be heartened to hear that Google reported record revenues of $1,256 billion for the quarter ended Mar. 31, 2005, up 93 percent year over year, after going public in 2004 in what was one of the most highly anticipated stock market listings since the 90’s bomb.

The speed with which the continually expanding search engine returns results is equally impressive — Google examines more than eight billion Web pages to find the most relevant pages for any query and typically returns those results in less than half a second.

Google’s utility and ease of use has made it one of the world’s best-known brands almost entirely through word of mouth from satisfied users. As a business, Google generates revenue by providing advertisers with the opportunity to deliver measurable, cost-effective online advertising that is relevant to the information displayed on any given page.

Murakami pointed out the following facts about the business:

  • International traffic: More than half of all Google searches come from outside the U.S.
  • Market share: About 50 percent of internet search referrals (Source: StatMarket, Dec. 2003).
  • Google Network reach: advertising on Google alone reaches 40.4 percent of U.S. internet users; in total the Google network reaches over 80 percent of internet users (Source: Media Metrix, Dec. 2003).
  • Index size: Google, the world’s largest search en­gine, has access to more than eight billion Web pages.
  • Advertisers: Thousands of advertisers worldwide.
  • Interface languages: 109.

Where is the company’s income coming from? A major source is Google’s global advertising program AdWords, an innovative tool that enables advertisers to present adverts to people at the precise moment they are looking for information related to what the advertiser has to offer. Advertisers use the company’s automated tools to create text-based adverts, bid on the keywords that will trigger the display of their ads and set daily spending budgets.

Advertisements are ranked for display in AdWords based on a combination of the maximum cost per click (CPC) set by the advertiser, click-through rates and other factors used to determine the relevance of the adverts. This favors the adverts that are most relevant to users, improving the experience for both the person looking for information and the advertiser looking for interested customers.

Another source of revenue comes from the Google Search Appliance — equipment provided by Google for organizations or governments to enable them to organize information inside their firewall. Google Search Appliance indexes all forms of content on a client’s intranet and website, offering a robust, scalable and cost-effective solution to their enterprise search needs.

Murakami emphasized Google’s corporate mis­sion — to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. “To do this, there are other areas where our ordinary robots or crawler cannot touch — private information in your desktop or notebook computer,” Murakami says. But he believes that based on Google’s corporate mission, the company should be able to offer services that can help users organize information in their desktops or notebooks. “So we provide Google Desktop Search as a downloadable application, now available in 11 languages, including English and Japanese, and website and desktop search functions can be combined together.”

Touching on some of these services, Murakami pointed out that sometimes people misunderstand that Google News is a real news site. “It is not,” he says. “It is just a search result of current news — it only shows the headline and the first paragraph of one article from each topic. We officially say that our internet crawler can read all internet sites once a month, but the upgrade of the news site is far more frequent — once a minute. The crawler reads all articles, classifies them and then selects the ‘top’ news. So Google News is very popular in Japan and we are very proud of that.”

Google Print deals in books and other types of offline information. “What we have started to do is ask publishers to send their books to us to scan them and put in our database, and people who wish to read books related to some keywords will be able to,” Murakami says. “We are also working with some major libraries — Harvard, Stamford, etc. to get their book collections and make them available online. Users will then be able to see the content online based on a keyword search and we will also show you whether you can buy the book nearby.”

Scanning the online future, Murakami says Google wants to make all search results most rele­vant for the largest population. “What is relevant for different people is different,” he says. “But if we go into detail and the differences between people, there are a huge variety of differences, we have to work very hard to accomplish this.”

For more information about Google:

Jonathon Walsh is a professional Editor and Writer, and Di­rector of Business Grow, an innovative company specializing in providing a wide range of top quality Editorial and Advertising services to Japanese and foreign organizations.

William Steele is a Writer and Editor at Business Grow.

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