tedster - 6:25 pm on Apr 25, 2010 (gmt 0)
In many discussions around this forum, members are noting that Google's site: operator currently returns very limited results. The total numbers are much lower than the special operator showed just a few months ago.
For example, in a recent thread, g1smd makes this observation:
In WMT I see 950 URLs listed for one site. The site: search lists between 260 to 320 depending on the day.
It certainly doesn't give much away like it used to. The website is a bit more than six months old.
While there were always some oddities in the site: results, the current situation is quite frustrating to many webmasters. Some who depend on the site: operator to understand how deeply Google is indexing their site are becoming concerned that they now have some kind of penalty, or at least a technical problem with their website or server.
Is this change is an artifact of the new Caffeine infrastructure? That is, will the site: results eventually become more accurate again? Or is this a new and intentional situation, a limit on the site: operator something like Google has always done with the link: operator.
In past years it often happened that Google would make back end changes to upgrade their core search results and various special operator reports would be disrupted for a short period. So, I currently lean toward the idea of an unintented Caffeine side effect.
But these newly uninformative site: results have now been with us for many months and in the last few weeks the distortion seems to be intensifying. It is heartening that Webmaster Tools reports higher numbers in many cases - but does this mean Google won't be showing accurate numbers to anyone but those verified as responsible for the website?
The site: operator seems intended to be used in combination with a keyword - and sometimes that does seems to improve the results. For example, one site I've been working with for fourteen years currentl shows:
site:example.com - 329 results
site:example.com keyword - 816 results
In the absence of any official word from Google, we can only guess what's happening. I'm hoping that it's a temporary disruption, but I wonder how others see this.