Google! Why you no show me all your results?

I am always amazed at how Google can come up with a gazillion search results for almost any popular query you type. I always stand in awe of the kind of search algorithms that they might be using internally to wade through this vast universe called the internet.

Once, out of curiosity, I decided to sit and crawl through all the results that Google comes up with. Idiotic task, but fun! So I typed a simple but very popular term – “English” into the search bar. ( Any term will throw up a similar result )

search_results

And there went Google to search its vast expanse and came back to me within a blink of an eye with around Eight Thousand Five Hundred and Ten Million results!! Even if I scan these results at the rate of 1 result/sec, I need around 269 years to complete searching the search!

But I went ahead, click the Next Button repeatedly. At around page 35, Google wanted stopped me in my stride with this message

continue_search

Please show me the omitted results, I said. And Google obliged. But to my surprise, when I reached page 55 ( ie 550 reesults ), the Next button went missing!

next_button_missing

No more results to skim through. And I found that this is the case with ANY search query. You might reach page 80 at the max or some more. But no where near the billion results that Google told me it has. True, that we hardly go beyond the second page of any Google search results, but that doesn’t make a case for not showing me the promised number.

I thought for a while and Bing! I went to bing.com, Microsoft’s search engine to see how it behaves. Its further worse. It came up with 125 million results for the same query and stopped showing any more results just after 281 results. And a bigger surprise is, it now reneges from its original claim of 125 million results and says “Oo. I was wrong. I just have 281 results!” I have seen even Google do this. (I removed all filters to make sure I am not missing something silly )

no_more

Also, if these are the only relevant results that search engines want us to see, then why show such a gigantic number in the first screen?

Tell me Google, where and why do you hide all your results?

PS: I know that, in all probability, that I am missing something here and Google/Bing are indeed accurate in their results. But nothing that meets the eye could show me where the missing results are.

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6 thoughts on “Google! Why you no show me all your results?

  1. Thanks for the links Jyothi. I went through them. They say its a “heuristic guess” that the search engine makes. But thats not what common people believe it to be. I think its very misleading. If its an estimate, they should say so!

  2. I would think that google does find that many references to the search term in it’s internet crawl database but it probably figures that nobody would possibly be interested in all of them. We can do a more refined search to see more. May be some unique search phrases do give the number of results very close to the actual number. I would assume that you’d probably get close to the same number around 40 pages if you search for references to english in the past one day.

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