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Google promises, but doesn't deliver.


© May 2019 Anthony Lawrence

Every done a Google search that tells you there are millions of result pages? I'm sure all of us have. But are those pages really available? Let's try some tests:

Search Google for "unix". When I did this just now, it tells me there are "about 216,000,000 English pages for unix". You can click "Next" to see the next page, and keep going like that until you get tired of it.

Or can you? Take a close look at the url line. It will look something like this:

https://www.google.com/search?q=unix&hl=en&hs=8Ur&lr=lang_en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&start=30&sa=N

Notice the start=30 I highlighted. You can manually edit that to go to any page you like. Try changing it to "start=300". You'll get "Results 301 - 310 of about 216,000,000 English pages for unix".

Cool. Let's go see what the really low ranking results are. Change it to 3000.

Ooops. Instead of a page of results, we get a message that says "Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 3000.)"

Hmmmm. Only 1000. Ok, try 990. That gives us a few results, and then this message:


In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 875 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

If I click on the link provided, I get a new results page, but the information has changed slightly. It now says "Results 1 - 10 of about 201,000,000 English pages for unix" - actually less than the results that supposedly omitted some entries. Can we move to page 990 here? Sure; click next once, move up to your address bar, and edit "start=". This time there are only two entries on page 990, which definitely shows that Google gave us less results than before.

So, Google, where are all those results? And why does the "search with the omitted results included" have less results?


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