## Watch Google fumble with numbers on a quick and dirty experiment

### I am not sure we can rely on Google’s counting. I've lost all faith in it. I know that sounds harsh, but in the last few days I captured my findings and the "about how many results" indicator is all over the map.

### Introduction

Look, Google’s name is derived from googol. A googol is 1 to the power of 100 (a 1 with a hundred zeros). It’s a ridiculously large number. Seriously, every meaningful number in our world is less than a rounding error compared to this number. Case in point, we ‘only’ have an estimated 1 to the power of 80 atoms in our universe (yes, counting every atom in every speck of dust on every planet) – which technically is 0.0000000000000000001% of that googol number.

### The experiment

Anyway, back here on earth, it all started with a morbid curiosity to see how much competition there was for the search term: Search Engine Optimization. I had been pondering around with the idea to start this blog, and since I was just starting to plan to make a presence, I thought it be interesting to see how “long the line” was of other results before me. Since I just started to plan to make a presence with this blog, I thought it be interesting to see how “long the line” was of other results before me.

**Results on March 10, 2013**

To see how many results Google had indexed on the search term: “Search Engine Optimization”, I went to my favorite search engine, and typed in: search engine optimization. Here is my screen caption on that morning

About 90 Million. Holy Guacamole, that is a heck of a line. It seems I have my work cut out for me for sure. The rest of the day I worked on other things (my website, my Facebook pages, and other excuses) so I did not get to write this post.

So at the end of the day, I decided to see how many extra pages got indexed on the search term “Search Engine Optimization”.

So at the end of the day, I decided to see how many extra pages got indexed on the search term “Search Engine Optimization”.

Number of results for the term "Search Engine Optimization" on the afternoon of March 10, 2013 |

97 Million. Good grief. This line is growing fast. I started to regret not getting in line earlier in the day. Apparently, I now had another 7 million pages ahead of me. I knew the Internet was growing bigger every day, but I'll be honest: This was beyond what I was expecting. Mind you, this is not the entire set (supposedly Google indexes 50 Billion pages) – this was just my competition. I was starting to doubt my new choice of career.

I decided to wait to the next day to see if the results would be in line with my earlier 2 data-points from the day before. So here is what I found the next day:

**Results on March 11, 2013**I decided to wait to the next day to see if the results would be in line with my earlier 2 data-points from the day before. So here is what I found the next day:

Number of results for the term "Search Engine Optimization" on the morning of March 11, 2013 |

34 Million. Alright, that is ridiculous. Unless another ruthless algorithm update with a cute animal name came by on March 10th or March 11th (Penguins and Panda’s, anyone?), we now mathematically can sum up these results as: 65 Million, plus or minus about 31 Million results. Again, in perspective to the aforementioned googol number these are all rounding errors, but for the rest of us this seems pretty significant.

**Latest results on March 15, 2013**

Let's see what this morning brings us:

Number of results for the term "Search Engine Optimization" on the morning of March 15, 2013 |

Ok, back in the 90-some million range. I'm not sure if I should feel comfort, or not. For all I know, the number that gets reported is just the output of a random number generator.

**Conclusion**

So how much faith can we really have in this number? Mine is pretty low at this point, but Google's faith must be great, right? I couldn't explain why else you would show this number on your flagship product on every page you serve. So there has to be an explanation, even though at this point I'm not sure how to find it.

This section is painfully short at this time, I really can't explain these discrepancies. My plan is to update this section over time with new information I receive. I'm curious enough to dig and find out more.

Also, I'm quite sure I'm not the first one to notice this, so if you have explored this before and have a better explanation, please leave a reply.

**An Experiment ... How you can help**

This blog is called SEO experiments, and so here is where you can help today. Apparently, you made it all the way through the end of this article - so my guess is that you are intrigued by this too. Aren't you at least a bit curious to what number you are going to get served by Google? If so, you can click this link, and it will repeat the experiment on your computer. To help us gather more data, please post the amount of results you got in the comments. So .... what were your results?

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