Google Is 10 Years Old? Finding The Real Google Birthday

The AFP has clearly been waiting for September 15, so it could trot out today’s “Google is 10 years old” story. But the company itself doesn’t count tomorrow as its 10th birthday. In fact, knowing exactly when Google’s birthday is depends on your point of view. Some milestones to consider below, which make Google as old as 12 and as young as 9. Plus, more special Google birthday logos.

NOTE: See Google 10th Birthday Site: Interactive Timeline, Project 10×100 To Improve The World & Share Your Google Stories for news of the official Google 10th birthday site launched since this was written.

Google The 12 Year Old January 1996

This is when Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started working on BackRub, what later become Google. Use this month, and Google is 12 years old.

Google The 10 Year Old Sept. 15, 1997

This is when, as the AFP reports, Google registered google.com.

Google The 9 Year Old Sept. 7, 1998

This is when Google may have officially incorporated.

Google The 9 Year Old Sept. 27, 1998 (Current Official Date)

Back in 2005, Google declared that Sept. 27 was its birthday. But wait — what happened with that Sept. 7 date? Well, in 2005, Yahoo came along and freaked Google out by announcing an index that was larger than Google’s. It had been ages since anyone did that. Quite a debate ensued, and I did a long write-up about it then.

Things got resolved by Google doing some PR. They announced that for their “birthday,” they’d gotten bigger — but were also dropping the count of pages from the home page, which helped (thankfully) defuse the size wars that often meant nothing about search quality.

It’s Their Party, They’ll Party When They Want To!

So there you have it — Google’s birthday is whenever it wants to be. Indeed, back in 2006, the When is Google’s birthday? page in Google help was changed to say:

Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake. For more on Google’s history: http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html

Previously, it had said:

Google’s official birthday is September 7, 1998. If Google were a person, it would have started elementary school late last summer (around August 19), and today it would have just finished the first grade. In other words, we’re just getting started. To discover more about Google’s history, please visit http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/history.html. To learn about our mission, please see http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/index.html

Google Birthday Logos

How about those special birthday logos? Google’s been putting them up consistently since 2002. The first year, it happened on September 27, then shifted to September 7, then back to September 27 from 2005 onward. I’d expect to see a special ninth birthday logo showing up on the 27th of this month.

4th Birthday: 2002

Celebrated on September 27th, 2002.

5th Birthday: 2003

Celebrated on September 7th, 2003.

6th Birthday: 2004

Celebrated on September 7th, 2004.

7th Birthday: 2005

Celebrated on September 27th, 2005.

8th Birthday: 2006

Celebrated on September 27th, 2006.

Postscript: Google Birthday Logo: Nine Years Old covers how, as predicted, Google put up a special nine years old logo. Here it is:

Google's 9th Birthday Logo

Postscript: Both the 10th and 11th birthdays were celebrated on the 27th:

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Google: General | Stats: History

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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