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Testing the Limits of Google

November 3, 2009

google-vs-yahoo-vs-bing.jpgHave you ever tested the limits of Google?

I was poking around on Google just now researching some keywords. Did you know that by default Google stops counting after 85 pages of search results? Now you do.

In the past I’ve noticed that when researching the popularity of keywords, Google will often show total results in the tens or hundreds of thousands at the top of the page (e.g. results 1 – 10 of 128,000). Yet if you scroll through the pages ten at a time, often the results for these terms will stop at 200 – 300.

Here’s an example. I own several ‘larimar’ domains including this one for larimar rings. The search results for “larimar rings” in quotations stop at 231 results, as you can see here:

Results 231 – 231 of 231 for “larimar rings”

Since I first became aware of this discrepancy I began using it to help assess whether a keyword really is as popular as it seems at first glance from the search results, though even this can sometimes be deceiving. (As a domainer I try to use every metric at my disposal.)

But today I thought differently. I thought, now let me consider a vastly more popular keyword; one that for all intents and purposes should have no upper bounds on the number of unique results; a keyword like: loans

Here is page 85 of Google’s search results for ‘loans’

Results 841845 of about 125,000,000 for loans

Near the bottom:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 845 already displayed.

If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

Okay, fair enough I thought. I clicked away to re-search with the omitted results, however this time I found that the search results stop at page 100

Results 991 – 1000 of about 124,000,000 for loans

Here there is no more option to continue the search. That’s it; you can go no further than the top 1000 results.

But what if I want to know the 1001st result for ‘loans’? What am I to do? Am I out of luck?

Well, there’s always Yahoo, right?

Results up to page 100 in Yahoo for loans

Okay, that’s strike two of the big three. Bing?

(Note the search is getting progressively slower. Bing only allows you to jump four results pages at a time.)

As I clicked on page 96 I could feel my heart beat accelerate in anticipation. I scrolled down ever so slowly to prolong the suspense; and it slowly came into view, the Holy Grail – page 101!

996-1,000 of 1,000 results

Haha, foiled again. For some strange reason results 996 – 1000 appear on page 101 in Bing.

So there you have it. The big three search engines apparently don’t give a hoot about what comes after 1,000. Possibly this would put too much of a burden on their infrastructure if they had to cache so many ka-trillions of search results for all possible keywords combined. I’m not certain, but I find it interesting nonetheless..

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