Google has been around for a while now. So has the “I’m feeling lucky” icon on its homepage. While some of us wonder about its utility every time we see it, most of us choose to ignore it and go ahead with our search anyway. And those of us who do click on it trying to figure out what it does, don’t get a satisfying answer either, unless, of course, we Google it! 

Now, come to think of it, how could one possibly feel lucky while Google searching something?

What does the button ‘I’m feeling lucky’ do anyway?

Well, back in the day when Google was in its nascent stage, the search engine was not as advanced as it is today. When a user looked up something online, it could not refine its search results according to the top searches, like it does today. One would have to browse through the search results and Google ads in order to find the desired link. Here is where the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button came to rescue. It helped users skip Google ads, save time, and directly see the top-searched results.

After typing a search query and clicking ‘I’m feeling lucky’, the user would be directed to the page that was listed as the top search.

But this was so much more than just another Google feature. Up until 2010, this button used to cost Google millions of dollars a year. Why, you ask? Well, all those Google queries that went through the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button skipped Google ads, which meant zero ad clicks for those queries, which simply meant loss of revenue.

In 2007, it was estimated that around 1% Google search queries passed through the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ icon, costing Google a whopping $110 million per year.

With the launch of Google Instant in 2010, in which search results appear in the search bar as one types, this feature was discontinued. But since we were used to seeing it on the homepage and Google didn’t want to do away with the human-quotient it brought to the page, it wasn’t removed. Though it doesn’t perform the same function as it used to, the icon has been updated to show animations where it changes to I’m Feeling Puzzled, I’m Feeling Trendy, I’m Feeling Doodley, amongst others. 

When Google discontinued the feature but kept the icon, then Google search boss Marissa Mayer had said , “I think what’s delightful about ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ is that it reminds you there are real people here.”

Didn’t know that, did you?