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Difference between site:example.com and site:www.example.com ?

     
10:30 am on Jul 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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for one of my sites, i decided to check site:example.com regularly to see indexing behavior because it includes both example.com and www.example.com pages, right?

so today i get 860 sites indexed for site:example.com
now i check site:www.example.com and get over 7000 results which is closer to the actual number

all my urls are such as www.example.com/whatever, none of them is missing the www subdomain.

how is possible? how come the site: command returns less sites without the www subdomain? what should this info tell me?

[edited by: tedster at 1:15 am (utc) on July 25, 2009]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it cannot be owned [/edit]

1:14 am on July 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've seen this kind of report recently too - no doubt it's a big fat bug in the site: operator.
6:40 pm on July 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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so you would draw no further conclusions from this then?
7:02 pm on July 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would draw one conclusion - Google does not put their public reporting operators on a very high level of importance, compared to all the other things they do. One possible reason: they don't want to enable intensive competitive research.

Google is doing a better job with the private WebmasterTools data, at least a good bit of the time. That reporting is behind a log-in, where only the validated site owner can have (or intentionally share) access. Safely tucked away from your competitors and malicious intentions.

However, even Webmaster Tools reporting gets buggy when Google makes significant changes to their back-end infrastructure (which seems to have happened this month).

I think this particular bug is fascinating - it might even tell us something about Google's back-end data storage. But, we have so little detail about that - it's almost impossible to extrapolate a useful insight as it stands.

Ny guess would be that a chunk of information became inaccessible to the site: operator when they changed something on the backend. It's even possible that a chunk of data went missing while they were moving it around between data centers - that's happened before. What KIND of data that is would be interesting to know, but I can only make wild guesses, so I won't.