How many searches has Google done?

by Mathew on September 5, 2008 · 51 comments

Google’s birthday is coming up — although it’s not clear exactly which one, or when it will actually occur, for a whole pile of reasons — and it occurred to me that the company must have done an awful lot of searches by now. After all, the most recent estimates I’ve seen are that Google processes more than 2 billion searches a day, although I have no way of knowing whether that’s true. So I started looking around for numbers and did some back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Here’s what I came up with (please keep in mind that I am an English major). If anyone can shed any further light on this — or fix the math — I’d appreciate it. Obviously, I had to make assumptions about what the average number of searches was during a year, based in some cases on nothing but a single number for that year, and I’m sure there are numerous other gaps of logic as well. Feel free to let fly with the suggestions, but try and remain civil.

1998: 10,000 searches a day (Google official history)
1999: 500,000 searches a day (Britannica)
1999 (September): 3 million a day (Google official history)
2000: 18 million searches a day (estimate)
2000 (December): 100 million a day (Google official history)
2002: 150 million searches a day (estimate)
2004: 200 million searches a day (IPO figures)
2007: 1.2 billion a day (Clickz)
2008: 2 billion a day (estimates)

which I roughed out to this:

1998: about 3.6 million total that year
1999: 500,000 a day to 3 million a day, or about 500 million total
2000: 18 million a day to 100 million a day, or about 22 billion
2001: assume about 35 billion average
2002: 150 million a day, or about 54 billion
2003: assume about 65 billion
2004: 200 million a day, or about 73 billion
2005: assume about 100 billion
2006: assume about 250 billion
2007: 1.2 billion a day, or about 400 billion
2008: 2 billion a day, or about 700 billion

which gives you about 2 trillion searches. Still a long way to go before they get to a Googol worth, which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. According to Google, there aren’t that many of anything in the known universe, including atoms. Update: My friend Om Malik has a great retrospective post about how far Google has come since he first sat down with Larry and Sergey. And the L.A. Times has an interview with Marissa Mayer.

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