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What does "about" blank number of pages actually mean?

     
11:40 am on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Try the following search in google (the .co.uk) version
with "pages from UK" checked

allinanchor:top websites

The first page says:
Results 1 - 100 of about 88,300

When you get to the last page:
Results 801 - 897 of about 88,300

Would you take this to mean that...
1. Google only wants to show the first 897 results, but there are around 88,300 matching pages.

2. Google estimates the number of pages is "about" 88.3000 which can be wildly out

Regards,

Jez.

9:42 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Add
&filter=0
to the end of the Google search URL, and see what happens then.

To speed things up, also add

&num=100
to the URL to get 100 results per page.
7:44 pm on Mar 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi there.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Adding the filter appears to make no difference.

(I'm already using &num=100 for 100 results per page).

Anyone with any more information?

8:20 pm on Mar 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sometimes the numbers change significantly when the filter is changed.

Somehow I missed you were already using 100 entries per page.

9:02 pm on Mar 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Would you take this to mean that...
1. Google only wants to show the first 897 results, but there are around 88,300 matching pages.

This is the meaning I'd assume.

At most, Google will only show 1,000 pages, no matter what the number of results. Sometimes, Google will simply stop short of 1,000, say, at 897, or at 600, and (depending on the kind of query) there's nothing you can do to display more.

Sometimes, if Google feels the pages returned are very similar, so similar that nothing is added to the user experience by showing very many of them, the number of results may cut off well before the 1,000 (or 897). There will be a message to the effect that only the most relevant results have been show, and you will be offered a link to repeat the search with the omitted results included.

Clicking this link appends &filter=0 to the Google search url. The &filter=0 string turns off the duplication filter in the serps displayed.

2. Google estimates the number of pages is "about" 88,3000 which can be wildly out

Not as wildly out as your question supposes... but you may notice as you get deeper into the results that the number of pages reported might change. This number is an estimate only... so if this changes from serp page to serp page, I wouldn't worry about it much. Similarly, this number of results can change over time, either because the number of pages indexed is actually changing, or because the reporting function is changing.

Google doesn't regard its reporting functions to be as important as it regards its actual results.

9:18 pm on Mar 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies, that's what I was assuming and hoped to be the case.
4:43 am on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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One point to note is that Google has moved far beyond returning "text match" results the way search engines did in the past.

So the "about" number doesn't mean "this many pages with the query terms on them". Instead it means something like "about this many urls that might be relevant according to our algo's preliminary assessment."

Then the actual number returned - 897 or whatever - means something like "the 897 urls that our algo feels are the most relevant to this query's intention."

10:25 am on Mar 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Thanks.

It's all for a new SEO algorithm, as long as I compare like for like results all should be well.

 

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