When you think of Google, does the phrase “millions and millions of results” come to mind? Search giant Google, the most popular search engine, has long touted its famous phrase and built its reputation on offering Web searchers the most results. After all, Google takes its very name from the word “googol” which is the extremely large number 10100, or in simpler terms, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.
But in reality, Google doesn’t give us millions and millions of results. In fact, not even close.
To illustrate, let’s see what happens when we Google “Google.” Google tells us it has 2, 670,000,000 results.
But what happens if you actually try to click through Google’s SERPs to see all the results it claims to have?
In actuality, Google only provides 430 of its supposed 2,670,000,000 results.
Repeating this exercise with any search query you can think of will yield the same result. Here are the results of a few of our test searches:
Sometimes you may get a little more, sometimes a little less, but the bottom line is that Google will never give you more than 1,000 results. Why 1,000? Because Google has a limit of 1,000 for the number of results it provides.
So why, then, does Google boast how many millions (or billions) of results it has if it only gives us 1,000 (or less)? If you ask Google, they’ll tell you something like this:
“Google provides only the 1,000 most relevant search results for a query, even when there are more than 1,000 matches. (Due to variations in our estimates, we may, on occasion, display slightly less than 1,000.) We try to make your search experience so efficient that it’s not necessary to scroll past the first ten listings.”
But what about power users, serious researchers, SEOs, or anyone else who wants or has a real need to see more than 1,000 anyway? Google goes on to say:
“We understand that some users would like to see more than 1000 results, but this is fairly rare, and it would heavily tax our system to provide these results for everyone.”
The desire to see more than 1,000 results is not as rare as Google might think. My own research into the matter produced hundreds of pages, forum messages, and blog posts (many from SEOs) all venting similar frustrations. One blogger even joked, “Maybe I’ll start a search engine and tell people their searches are yielding 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 results so they’ll think my engine is best. What difference would it make?”
How does Google’s 1,000 Result Limit affect us negatively?
- Google users are forced to edit their keyword queries in order to produce more relevant results.
- Websites trying to improve their Google rankings are not able to track progress beyond 1,000 positions.
- Many Google searchers set their Google SERPs to display 100 results per page, so that they can easily scroll through hundreds of results at a time and scan them for quick information, or eye-catching trends. But due to Google’s limited results, we’re only given 10 pages (usually less) of results.
- Websites that have more than 1,000 pages are not able to easily use Google’s site:www.url-of-site.com command to check exactly what Google is indexing.
What can you do to get around Google’s 1,000 Result Limit?
- Change your keyword query. Try adding more descriptive words to produce different results.
- Use Google’s Advanced Search to further pinpoint your search query. Try plugging in different date ranges or geographic locations.
- For site queries, SEOmoz posted a great write-up on cracking Google’s 1,000 page barrier using different combinations of the site: and inurl: search operators.
The workarounds aren’t perfect, and even though it is possible to squeeze more results out of Google using creative query methods, the lesson learned is:
Google will give you the answer you’re looking for, but only if you ask the right question.
As one forum user laments, “Suppose you click on every link in the hit list from a 1,000 item Google search. Have you covered the world? No, you have not. You’ve covered the part of the world that Google’s algorithms choose to present to you.”Comments Off
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