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Google is by far the internet's most popular search engine. Google operates many national editions of it's search engine in the local language. In many countries Google achieves no less then 50% market share. Although Google started as a research project by Stanford University Ph.D students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, no webmaster can survive without in 2003.

Google's strength has always been it's simplicity, speed and accurate results. No visitor can get lost on Google's homepage with it's clear design. Even if new features and search options are added Google's interface is easy to use. Google's search speed is still unsurpassed. Google's accurate results are based on a patented algorithm: PageRankTM. PageRankTM (PR) is measure for web page popularity based on the number of hyperlinks pointing to that page. PR is an important ingredient in Google's algo and probably the best known. But it's certainly not the only one. There are a lot of other factors that influence rankings and a relevant page with fewer backlinks will rank higher than a less relevant page with higher PR.

Google tries to update it's index once a month. Sometimes it takes a little longer to refresh it's over 3000 million indexed pages and recalculate PR. Very often Google implements some algo changes as well which produce a different ranking order. This may cause pages or complete websites to disappear from the index. Submitting your site to Google through Google's own submit-page doesn't harm your rankings, but your site will only be added to the index if it has at least one link pointing to it.

Between the monthly updates Google tries to stay as up-to-date as possible. Google operates a different spider for this, better known as 'Freshbot'. Freshbot visits websites that refresh their content regularly such as news sites. Freshbot also discovers new sites by following hyperlinks. Freshbot seems to become more and more important lately but the overall pattern is still the same as usual. See also 'Google updates' on the righthand side of this page.

Google is at least as popular among 'search engine spammers': companies trying to "unfairly manipulate search engine results" with "overly aggressive marketing efforts" as Google puts it on their SEO page. Google makes short shrift with such websites. They are regularly relegated in the results or wiped out of the index entirely. So be careful how to choose your SEO company!

Every so often Google rebuilds it's index. On top of adding new pages to the index, new parts of the algorithm are applied, new spam filters thrown in, hyperlinks between sites are evaluated and PR is updated. This rebuilding is done in several steps and starts at one of Google's 12 datacenters. The order in which these steps occur may very.
Not all updates are equally radical, new and updated pages for example are added all the time and just find their way between the existing results. The application of new algorithms however causes the index to turn upside down, at least for some queries and for a short period of time. These updates never pass unnnticed. Hundreds - sometimes thousands - of emails are posted in the Google watching forums. Google keeps a keen eye on some of them to spot problems with the new index and to reassure webmasters that may temporarily have lost their rankings.
Big updates are named like hurricanes and have names like Boston, Cassandra, Dominic, Esmeralda and Florida. The names are usually chosen by WebmasterWorld founder Brett Tabke and adopted by Google.