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Why Do Google Hit Numbers Vary? 378

Supa-Fly writes "I have a question about some conflicting results with the search engine google. I did a search for "pictures of mountains" and got exactly 1 million results. My friend did the same search (from the same office)and got 1,010,000 results. A second friend did the same search as the last 2 and got 1,020,000. These have not changed and every person gets the same results each time. My question is what is up with the discrepancies on google's search results?" Since this question is hard to answer from the outside, Craig Silverstein of Google kindly supplies his best answer to this question, below.

Craig writes: "Thanks for the great question. We get this from time to time and hopefully I can clear up some of the confusion. The number of estimated pages listed to the top right of a Google search results page is indeed, an estimate. It's a good estimate but still, an estimate.

There are many reasons why one might see a difference in the estimated number of pages returned for the same query. It's most likely the queries made by your co-workers were sent to different Google datacenters in what appears to have been a round-robin fashion. The index at any given Google datacenter can change slightly over the course of a day (each index is refreshed completely every three to four weeks). Depending on which datacenter finishes a query, the estimated number of results may vary.

Without having direct access to your environment it is hard for me to tell for sure, however, I believe this is the case."

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Why Do Google Hit Numbers Vary?

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