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Archive for August, 2009

For most of us, a Search engine is the gateway to internet. We rely on it for day to day tasks. Thanks to search engines, we need not remember a plethora of domain names; a few words which you can remember from a site is all that is needed to take you to the right site.

A large population of internet users seldom click any link other than the first one the search engine throws at them. Some of them go further and explore the next page, and rarely does anyone go beyond the 3rd of 4th page. I was always wondering why Google says it found some millions of results as people are never interested in viewing the 1000th results let alone the millionth one. I was wondering why they’re waste computational resources on indexing data no one would ever use.

Today, I tried a little experiment. I searched for Apple on Google. It returned a whopping 340 Million results!! Whew.. Then I tried accessing the 2nd page.. I noticed there is an attribute which is seen in the address bar called Start, which changes for every page. e.g., for the 2nd page the PageStart value is 10, which actually says show results starting from the 10th page which is quite logical.

The URL looks something like this

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=apple&start=10&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

I tried changing the number for 10 to 2000 to see the 201st page, but I was in for a surprise –

Sorry, Google does not serve more than 1000 results for any query. (You asked for results starting from 2000.

Here it is, Google can’t serve you results exceeding 1000 for any query! So the first question which was haunting my head was resolved..

I wanted to play around with Google more, so I tried giving another value – this time 640 to see if I actually get redirected to the 65th page.

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=apple&start=650&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

Above is the URL I tried in my browser. It said “ Results 431437 of about 340,000,000 for apple”

Results 431437 of about 340,000,000 for apple

And it is now on page 49! Results 431- 437 should ideally be on page 42, moreover it should have actually displayed results 650-660. After all it has 340M results and it has no problem displaying upto 1000 results for any query.

Why is this anomaly present in Google? It is not specific to this search term alone. I have tried it with different search terms and all the time I see such anomaly.In some cases, clicking on the next page reloads you the same page.

All of the following URLs differ in the Start property but all point to the same page. Also you can see that the page number which is highlighted in each case. Though different numbers are highlighted in each case, we get to see the same result page everytime!!!

http://www.google.co.in/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&safe=off&q=microsoft&start=450&sa=N&fp=2b0cc07f38284dd0

Go to the above URL and click on the next page (46). You will land up on the same page again! This anomaly differs with each keyword!

I don’t understand why this anomaly exists. If anyone has a clue about this, please let me know through comments.
Also, please share with me if you find any such anomalies in other search engines too!

RNG

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