Google to Match Yahoo With ‘My Google’

Google today invited journalists to its first-ever Factory Tour, billed as “an informal, and informational, look at all aspects of Google’s business.” The event, held at the company’s Mountain View campus, took place on the same day as Yahoo’s annual stockholders’ meeting.

Google keeps a serious eye on its rivals’ doings. For example, the evening before MSN launched a beta of its proprietary search technology with an index of 5 billion documents, Google PR got on the phone to tell journalists that the Google index now held 8 billion documents.

Google will get even more like Yahoo with today’s launch of My Google, available for registered users. As reported by SearchEngineWatch, the service will let users consolidate features of their choice into one home page.

“It makes sense for Google to offer a unified page for many of its services, and the page does this without impacting the regular Google site nor getting far away from the general Google feel at all,” wrote Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineWatch editor (SearchEngineWatch and are owned by Jupitermedia).

The event was an opportunity for the company, which seldom releases formal press releases, to put a human face on itself.

CEO Eric Schmidt welcomed the group, and was scheduled to appear with co-founder Sergey Brin to answer questions at the end.

Marissa Mayer, director of consumer Web products, treated attendees to anecdotes about engineers who obsess about their laundry or get married at lunch so they don’t lose work time. Tickets to a late showing of the latest “Star Wars” movie, opening today, were offered, as well as statistics on how much coffee, pasta and wheat grass Google staffers consume.

Aside from the My Google announcement, the day-long event provided little new information for anyone who’s been paying serious attention to Google’s business.

The company is always working to improve its products, executives told the crowd of around 200 people. Advertising is about 80 percent of the total business. And the page ranking algorithms are, well, complicated.

Reporters lured by the prospect of getting a look behind the scenes were thwarted. The proceedings took place in a shiny new building with a stage and elaborate theatrical lighting, with its own entrance, food service area and bathrooms. Anyone attempting to stray unescorted through the halls was politely turned back.

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