Friday Five: Google’s best gifts

Happy 15th Birthday, Google.

The Google Search timeline (click to enlarge and go to original location)
The Google Search timeline (click to enlarge and go to original location)

It’s hard to imagine life before the ubiquitous search engine that has changed the way we use the web. But once upon a time, we sorted through Yahoo! directories or tried our luck seeking out information through lesser search engines like AltaVista. And when Google made its debut in 1998, its simple, no-frills interface didn’t thrill many of us. But the company’s superior search algorithm caught on, and soon “Google” became synonymous with “search.”

Google has grown up a lot in its 15 years. It’s made a few missteps along the way (Google Wave and its decision to kill Google Reader are notable examples) but the brainchild of Larry Page and Sergey Brin has made more good and smart moves than bad, boneheaded ones. So, in honor of the company’s quinceanera, here are the five things from Google that I appreciate the most:

5. Search. It seems silly to even mention this. Google has become so much more than a search engine. But this core function still serves as the centerpiece of Google’s business, and advertising revenue from the platform contributes a lot to Google’s bottom line. Google revenues reached $50 billion for the first time in 2012, and 96 percent of that came from ad sales.

4. Google Analytics. “Turning data into insights” is this tool’s slogan, and it’s true. Is there a college or university around today that is not using Google Analytics to improve the user experience?

3. Google News. I love the customizable portal for gathering news from all the world’s news sources.

2. Gmail. As a self-confessed digital hoader and someone who sees “inbox zero” as a fruitless attempt to get ahead of the never-ending stream of email exchanges, I love Gmail’s bottomless pit of storage.

1. The Google DoodleSometimes, companies can get away with breaking all the rules of visual branding. Google has done that with its Google Doodle. The Doodle is a creative way to celebrate remarkable achievements or anniversaries. (Just click on today’s Doodle at Google’s search site and play a round or two of pinata-bashing. You’ll see what I mean.)

Those are my five favorites. What are yours?

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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