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SERPS position changes for different 'num=nnn'

Tell me I am not mad, but my page(s) appears in different positions

     
8:59 am on Jul 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for a very informative forum, i have read here for some time and learnt a tremendous amount.

One of the snippets i picked up some time ago was using the 'num=100' option on google searchs to easily check my search positions without clicking through a number of pages.

Not sure how, but i noticed, while checking a couple of pages that have recently dropped from position 7 and 12, that using different values for 'num=nnn' effects the position some of my pages appear in!

For example, one page
num=5 position 35
num=10 position 36
num=40 position 37
num=50 position 38
num=75 position 40
num=100 position 43

Another page
num=5 position 27
num=10 position 27
num=40 position 29
num=50 position 30
num=75 position 32
num=100 position 32

If makes little difference to my attempts at SEO, but was surprised that google seems to change the SERPS depending on the value of 'num'?

Now, if i can just get all my potential visitors to use 'num=1'!?!

10:21 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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JackInTheBox, first of all, welcome to WebmasterWorld and I wish you a pleasant stay! :)

With every request you make G makes a new request into their huge database and puts all your search requests (language, searchterm, location, ...) into account and sends you a list of URLs ordered by relevancy according to their latest algo. If you change one of these parameters the query to the DB might be structured in another way or cached/not cached which can result in different results for the queries u described.

I personally think that it's some form of caching and due to steady updates u might get different results for uncached queries compared to the cached, maybe 2 hours older result. But the question of what happened during these 2 hours is the big question and one of Googles biggest secrets imho.

10:35 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is this connected with the "indented" results when G displays two results from one site?

Example: let's say you do a search with "num=10". The results on page one are:

Site A
Site B
Site C - page 1
...Site C - page 2
Site D - page 1
...Site D - page 2
Site E
Site F
YOUR SITE
Site G

So your site is #9.

Now imagine setting num=5. The first page is now:

Site A
Site B
Site C - page 1
...Site C - page 2
Site D - page 1

It makes no sense to have the second page from site D indented at the top of page two, so page 2 is:

Site E
Site F
YOUR SITE
Site G
Site H

Hey presto! Your site has jumped to position 8.

The lower the value of "num" the more chance of indented pages being cut off like this - which seems to fit what you're seeing.

2:36 am on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The larger the num the more chance a site that's ranked above you will have a 2nd page that is listed and will automatically be moved up and indented under the higher of the two's listing. This would push your site down.

The opposite is also true.

4:58 am on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yup, what the other two people just mentioned: if you specify a larger number for "&num=" then the odds go up that we'll see two pages from the same site and group them together. Welcome to WebmasterWorld, JackInTheBox, by the way!
7:22 am on July 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies, always good to have an authoritive explanation.
2:06 am on July 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My take from this is that it doesnt do much good to use NUM to find out where you are in the google serps then?
3:24 am on July 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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there's actually even more to it.

on a 10 page view, two pages can show per one domain EVERY page. they could have links on page 1, page 2, then page 5, etc.

if you're viewing with 100 per page, they're only able to show 2 total (for that 100)

5:13 pm on July 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My take from this is that it doesnt do much good to use NUM to find out where you are in the google serps then?

Basically, yes.

I surf with prefs set to show 100 per page, but when a client is describing to me what s/he sees in the SERPs, I always have to switch over to 10 per page to try to see the same thing.

2:18 pm on July 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Have you tried to compare results derived from Google API with results with different &num's?
11:46 pm on July 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I always get different results with the API. I don't know if its a different datacenter, or just a delayed index. Haven't checked recently, however.