Search engine counts are never something you should depend on, a topic we've discussed many times before. Still, if you're going to get a count, it's nice if it doesn't seem to change much or simply seem absurd depending on the query you do.
Google's counting has been shaky for ages. But the Web: Google's counts faked? article does a lot of math to find the counts have even more weirdness to them.
Over at our forums, the Impossible Counts discusses the article and also skips the math and looks at why searches you know should bring back fewer results nevertheless don't. Also see these related articles:
- GoogleGuy On Google Link
Counts: From SEW on how you should definitely not depend on Google link count figures as accurate.
- Search Engine Size Wars V Erupts: From SEW on how the figures on the Google home page may not show the
number of pages actually indexed, along with other size issues.
- Fox News & Danger Of Citing Search Counts: Why if you go into court with figures "proving" anything
from a search engine, you'd better not hope there's anyone remotely knowledgeable about search to counter your argument. Those figures mean nothing. Discussion in the SEW
- On Search: Sorting Result Lists: Consider this a classic post, from Tim Bray on why it doesn't
matter how many pages you think the search engine is sorting through, it's not really happening like that.
- Sorry, no more results: From Michael Bazeley, following up on Tim's post and
discovering that you can't get more than 1,000 results on Google, so when it says it searched X number of results, should you really believe it?
- Search Engine Size Test: July 2000: Gives an in-depth look at how search engines have long not
allowed you to see all the results they have. It's not just a Google thing -- or even a new thing for the search industry.
- AltaVista's Oddities Explained: For SEW
members, this brief from back in 1999 is just one of many examples of where AltaVista's counts
were screwy over the years. See -- Google really is the AltaVista of today. Other examples: AltaVista's Imperfect Mirrors (for SEW members),
The AltaVista Size Controversy,
Who's The Biggest Of Them All? and from Greg Notess, "AltaVista can't count accurately" in
- Search Engine Size Wars & Google's Supplemental Results covers the long history of search engines
having big indexes that they don't necessarily search against. Also see Numbers, Numbers -- But What Do
- Search Engine Sizes: From SEW, a compendium of articles stretching back for years on size issues.