BitTorrent’s leading role in the file-sharing world can be partly attributed to its technical superiority. However, there are other, perhaps even more defining factors that have propelled BitTorrent’s popularity. Search engines for example, such as Google and to a lesser extent Bing and Yahoo!.
One could argue that Google has been one of the greatest contributers to the success of BitTorrent. Unlike other filesharing applications such as Frostwire, Ares and eMule, the .torrent download links are listed on billions of search engine friendly pages on the Internet.
We dare to argue that if BitTorrent didn’t rely on web-based indexing sites, it would be nowhere as popular as it is today. Today, thousands of new people continue to be introduced to it by Google alone. Features such as Google Suggest and Google Instant play a key role in this discovery process.
Just take a look at the two screenshots of Google searches for Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Resident Evil Afterlife, and see what Google suggests as a search phrase after one enters the movie titles into the search box.
Google suggest for Wall Street Money Never Sleeps
The search suggestions are based on the search habits in one’s geographical locations, so they may not be the same for everyone. However, the ‘torrent’ suggestion usually makes it into the top 5.
Google suggest for Resident Evil Afterlife
Due to BitTorrent’s popularity, a movie title followed by the word ‘torrent’ is often the first suggestion, before words such as trailer, review and soundtrack. This isn’t a decision made by the Google staffers, but a reflection of the fact that more people search for ‘torrent’ in combination with a movie title (or music and software tiles) than these other words.
Earlier this year Google rolled out a new feature that may boost the conversion of new people to BitTorrent to even more. With Google Instant users directly see the results of the search phrases they type. This means that for a lot of movies merely entering the title and a space will give then a list of download links on torrent sites.
When we do a search for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World for example (with Google Instant enabled), we immediately get a list of download links on various BitTorrent sites when we enter a space. It’s needless to say that this may pique the interest of people who have never heard of BitTorrent.
Google Instant for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Of course, Google is not to blame for any of this. They have their automated algorithms and because BitTorrent is used by millions of people, ‘torrent’ related search phrases often rise to the top of suggested searches. In a way, the same can be said for torrent search engines – should the operators really be blamed for how a subgroup of their visitors use their sites?