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Did You Know Google Now Limits Search Results to Only 300 to 400 Links?

Here’s something new I learned at the Computers in Libraries conference this week.

Google may claim to have indexed a million or more results for the term you’re searching for, but they can’t actually show you more than a tiny fraction of the results. Gary Price, founder and publisher of InfoDocket, told me that Google now limits the actual number of search results it shows you to anywhere between 300 and 400.

I’ve tested it, and he’s right. My searches petered out after the 330th, 349th, and 307th result. The other million or so search results that Google claimed to have found may as well never have existed.

It appears this state of affairs has existed since August 2016, but this is the first I have heard about it. I’ve rarely gotten as high as the 150th result before, much less 300.  Usually I give up by the third page and instead refined my search terms to narrow the search.

How about you? Do you think we’re missing out on hidden gems?

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Disgusting Dude March 27, 2019 um 9:18 pm

What about BING?

Joseph Sanchez March 28, 2019 um 2:29 pm

That was the idea behind deep dive, which would search a lot deeper and more thoroughly than Google’s search, but it just couldn’t catch on and honestly did not really perform that much better than Google. I have always told audiences and my students that in theory we know somewhere buried in those millions of Google links is exactly what we are looking for, but we doing have the time. The problem is really logistics and human neurology. Our brains are not developed or prepared to sift, search, or engage with the massive amounts of information available to us today. We see this problem even in academia where highly qualified subject experts exhibit the same search behaviors as their untrained students.

So yes, we are missing out on hidden gems, but if we remember what Calvin Mooer’s research taught us, we probably don’t want those gems all that much anyway.

Frank March 31, 2019 um 5:48 pm

I have never seen anything useful past 100 hits, so might as well stop at 300,

M. H. April 2, 2019 um 2:21 am

Having worked for a tech giant before, I can say there are typically three things that affect search results:

1. Relevancy to words indexed
2. Bandwidth capacity
3. Paid sources of information

Remedial as it may sound, search engines use crawler algorithms to return existing page results and sorts them in order of highest relevancy to the words entered.

Not even the best search engines have the bandwidth to show you everything, they would crash! So some results are hidden, waiting for you to type in a more relevant search to their content.

Finally, companies use paid services to ensure their products and features are tied to words most often used in search, which is why you may have seen some unrelated sites populate.

I don’t think there is anything truly "hidden" from view here. If you want to find someyhing hidden, just know what you’re looking for. 😉

stef July 30, 2020 um 9:01 am

if you know what you 're looking for , you don’t have to research…

Factualities for April 3, 2019 : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search April 4, 2019 um 6:57 am

[…] 300. The maximum number of search results Google returns for a query. Source: Digital Reader […]

N November 4, 2019 um 3:30 am

Wow. You think a human cant handle more than 300 web pages or does not have time or reason to see the expanded results? This is a move to save money and promote their biggest bussiness. How dare anybody say that access to 99.999999% of information available doesn’t matter. This is the intentional burning of THE global library and the intellectual power of mankind all for GREED.

Youdontneedtgatinfo August 27, 2022 um 8:31 am

Thank you I agree!

user January 5, 2020 um 5:12 am

Bing doesn’t limit the results before the first 1000 and that’s reassuring:
So why even Google shows that gigantic number at the beginning? just to impress users? I’m now default on DuckDuckGo and after this I’ll use Bing as well.

R. Smith April 30, 2020 um 2:03 pm

Ridiculous. Who are people who say they never got past 150 anyway. The first 150 are mostly paid sources and redundant. That 300-400 might be virtually all the same information, and as tedious as it is to plow through it, the vast majority of info I’m seeing out there is cut & paste, generalized garbage or heavily biased basically propaganda (or sales/marketing).

As far as 'refining' your search goes, that’s a lame excuse ! When I put in a search almost all of the initial results show 'missing' – must include: ****** (the most important word of the search). The single word isn’t enough, there are a limited number of additional words I can use to describe what I’m looking for. The fact that Google search ignores very unusual or specific words is aggravating. I can only assume they do it because they don’t make any money off the results with those words.

Also, if I type in a search using politically incorrect terminology or ideological thought or 'things progressives hate' – Google Literally reverses the order and gives me the opposite of what I want. If I type in "bad man type A hurts people type B" I get the opposite. Because it’s 'wrong' to think about type As doing bad things.

Also, hard to find porn and egregiously hard to find images that 'may be disturbing' to others. Even with very specific targeted words.

Ace December 11, 2020 um 7:41 pm

F*** Google aka Ministry of Truth

They should be broken up via anti-trust

Too much control over information

Malays Bowman October 16, 2021 um 9:15 pm

Google was very bad with "missing: must include" for the past couple years, but within the last month or so, they really ramped it up.

Like they think they are the only real game in town, and they can mould users' searches and the net as a whole to whatever they please.

I’ve had it with Google. The "missing: must include" has gotten so bad that DDG and Bing are starting to work better for searches than Google did not a long time ago.

Google needs to be broken up. They clearly have a God complex, and feel now that they are untouchable. They abandon their forever 'beta' products left and right, and don’t even feel the need to keep their flagship product (search) in working order. Yet they still feel they will be raking in huge profits and be the king of the internet ’till the end of time. This is insane and downright psychotic thinking.

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