Could you ever imagine the first thing you type into your favorite internet browser being backrub? Didn’t think so, but it nearly happened, and Google being named backrub may have not have resulted in the burgeoning success story it is today.
When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first began work on Google it was not named Google. The original name for the massive search engine, the place just about everyone goes to, Google, was BackRub. The reason for the name BackRub was because their system searched for back links (links from one site to another). Back links are one of the ways that Google ranks the relevance of webpages on their search engine results page. Essentially they take the link from the site and look at the words they have chosen to use with the link. If someone decided to use the words “interesting facts” with the link to this website, Google would look at that link as saying this site provides interesting facts and adjust the ranking for this site. Every time another site used those specific key words it would send a signal to Google that other webmasters thought that this site provided interesting facts, and as a result our site would climb in the rankings for those words, even though it’s not the name of our site. You can see why they were going to call Google Backrub.
The name they chose, Google, is actually a play on the word googol, which is the number 1 followed by one hundred zeros. The reason for this was to indicate their search engine was capable of organizing an almost infinite, or at least a very large amount of digital information.
Initially the domain name for Google was google.stanford.edu and z.stanford.edu as it was originally run out of Stanford university. Not bad for a couple of college students at the time. They have built a massive empire and improved the world in more ways than one.