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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger st3333ve's Avatar
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    Inconsistent Google results

    It has come to my attention that it isn't particularly uncommon to get more search results at Google by narrowing your search. Specifically, if you perform an initial search, and then modify the original search only to the extent of adding an additional word, you may get more (rather than fewer) results from the 2nd search.

    Earlier today I did a search that gave me 720 hits, then added the word "cup" to the end and increased my harvest to 36,000!

    My curiosity piqued, I've done some additional experimentation, and it turns out that kind of inconsistent result is not uncommon. For example:

    headlight trunk gem curry -- gives me 14,400 hits.
    headlight trunk gem curry street -- gives me 15,900 hits.

    Anybody have any insight into why this would happen?

  2. #2
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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Odd, I agree. I've seen this, and I see it every day.

    Understanding search engines can sometimes be hard. It could be that some word (the last added) is in a link from a page, but the other words are not on the page that links. Thus adding a word (I agree it goes against my logic too), could increase the number of hits. Or it's a bug.

    I.e. if a page that links to a page had all the words then it should already be in the result, but if the page links to a page in your result and uses your additional word in the link itself, then it could be added to the second search result, perhaps ...

    Aha! Someone says, but I specifically entered these words (and no need for AND in Google) then all should be on the pages in the result. Well, I don't understand search engines. <img src=/S/nope.gif border=0 alt=nope width=15 height=15> <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> Sometimes it's very annoying to find a search result that do not contain the word, even the cached version does not.

    Many probably knows about "site:" (and "link:") as useful operators in Google. You can also use "allintext:" to find only pages with the word(s) in the body of the page.

    Then the search engine must have some limit, searching only X of number pages of a web site.

    So, if I do a search for:
    headlight trunk gem curry, I'll get 14,400 hits
    headlight trunk gem curry street, I'll get 15,900 hits

    as you have shown. Or 14,500 second time tried, sigh, they updated some index perhaps.

    Yep, you will get the same result if you after first result chose "Search within results", and add street; you will get 15,900. Tried that some time.

    See discussion here: What Do You Hate About Google? (Note: discussion starts on page 1). (What is it with the English language and initial capitals? Every word. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> When I learned German, I learned that all German nouns are capitalized.)

    But if I search for:
    allintext:headlight trunk gem curry, I'll get 817 hits
    allintext:headlight trunk gem curry street, I'll get 804 hits

    Allintext generates smaller results etc, but in general I think a "clean" search will get the top ranked results one normally are looking for.

    Allinanchor: will give a result with pages that contain a link with the word(s) in the anchor text of the link.
    allinanchor:headlight trunk gem curry, I'll get 480 hits
    allinanchor:headlight trunk gem curry street, I'll get 13 hits.

    To complicate it, for your word: street, Google also includes pages with the abbreviations "St", "st". Compare if search for:
    headlight trunk gem curry "street"
    One can also use the punctuation operators, as you know +, -, "", ~ (synonyms to the word. Nifty).

    And also, Google only shows the first 1000 results for any query. (If anyone would be interested for so many).

    Robert Scoble on the subject: Why do search engines lie?

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    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    <hr>By default, Google only returns pages that include all of your search terms <hr>
    The above from Google Help pages. If you add more words, you get more hits.

    What seems to add to the confusion is that they also say add more search words to help restrict your search. That's supposed to mean (I guess) that "large rusty automobile" will be more restrictive than simply "large automobile."

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    > Or it's a bug.
    As, we hope, is this, which greeted me this Sunday morning here in Cloudy canada.
    I edited the screen shot vertically to reduce the JPG to 100KB, but the text is un-touched.

    Edited by Bigaldoc to eliminate horizontal scrolling.

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Al,
    Say again, <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    If I do a search for some words, and in the search result click "Advanced search", I will find that it is searching for all the words. As you say help file tells us. There is no need for the AND operator in Google.

    1. Is the same as apple AND pie AND cheddar
    2. Is the same as "apple pie cheddar"
    3. Is the same as apple OR pie OR cheddar
    4. is the same as -apple -pie -cheddar

    I cropped the image. (Restored screen shot 2009-12-08.)
    [attachment=87006:Gadvsea.JPG]

    "Find results with all of the words"; in the rest of the world, means all words should be in the result.

    If there is a larger sum of pages that includes the words A B C and D, then searching for the words A B and C shouldn't generate a smaller result, since A B and C is in the larger result.

    It isn't like A OR B OR C OR D, "OR" = at least one of the words, that would generate more result as you added words.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger st3333ve's Avatar
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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Thanks for the links. It sounds like the hit count may often be a pretty meaningless number, but that the bugginess of that element probably doesn't mean there's a corresponding bugginess to the results Google actually serves up on the results pages.

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    <P ID="edit" class=small>(Edited by Jezza on 17-Jun-07 17:58. To change a sentence structure and to rid it of some confusing grammar)</P>Argus

    There is apparently an algoritm for searches and is not just a Boolean search that was traditionally used to search a database using the AND or OR or NOT operators for search criteria. Interestingly enough the operator OR will not work in Google

    I undertook an experiment on my website at the end of last year which checked where the best place was to place words, the <head> or in the <body> tag or a mixture of the two. I was playing with your words that you used in your experiment/demonstration and in one it was apparent that the word pie did not appear in the body of the file but in the meta data within the head only.

    In my experiment I was seeing how Google Adsense picked up information from my pages and it was apparent that it was a mixture of the <head> and <body> see:

    http://www.magicforest.co.uk/indexadsense.htm and view the underlying code

    If you want to have a look at the full thread go to Google Adsense <post#=615,039>post 615,039</post#>

    My belief is the way the search engine works it uses the collective data from the webbots who bring out a mixture of the head and body data and pull this through on submit
    Jerry

  8. #8
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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Jerry,
    "... it uses the collective data from the webbots who bring out a mixture of the head and body data and pull this through on submit"

    Could be, that was why I mentioned some of the other operators in my first post; allintext: allinanchor: allintitle: et al should be subsets to the general search and somehow may give these results.

    OR isn't working? A test search for pie OR cheddar, will result in pages with at least one of the words; eihter pie, or cheddar, or both will be in the result pages.

    In Boolean OR broadens. Do you mean that OR (in Google) isnt' working strictly somehow (?), that it shouldn't include pages with both pie and cheddar, only pages with either pie or cheddar, not both? I don't think you do.

    Test:
    pie 105,000,000 (whatever <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>)
    cheddar 7,290,000
    pie OR cheddar 101,000,000

    Nah, it's not working if we look at search result numbers, they're not logic, but that we already knew.

    But what it serves work; you will get pie or cheddar or both. If you use OR, then in search result click Advanced search, you will find the words in the box "with at least one of the words".

    Now I'm getting hungry of all this talk about pie ...

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    What is interesting is your list:

    allintext: allinanchor: allintitle:

    I have never used or seen them so these must some of the parameters for the Google algorithm. I use Define: a lot to look up words and meanings. Something else that is not always mentioned though is if you have

    +magic +forest +jezza

    It looks for pages that contain all those words in whatever order but if you have

    magic forest jezza

    it looks for the words in the page in that exact order but not necessarily next each other but :

    "magic forest jezza"

    will find the exact sentence

    But I know you know that <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Jerry

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    5 Star Lounger st3333ve's Avatar
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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    I disagree with one part of your post. For a simple multi-word search like
    <pre>magic forest jezza</pre>

    you should get any page that has those 3 words, regardless of the order that they appear on the page. As a real example, you can try
    <pre>ornithological armadillo kumquat</pre>

    No matter what order you put those words in, you get the same 180 hits, and if you go to the first page on the results list ("Birding Outback Guyana"), you'll see that the words appear in the opposite order from my sample -- i.e., kumquat comes first, and ornithological comes last.

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. You don't get only web pages that contain the search terms in the order you entered them, but the order does sometimes make a difference:

    railway station

    returns 44,800,000 hits, while

    station railway

    returns 46,000,000 hits, and the first hit is different for both (but admittedly each one's #1 hit is listed on the first page for the other search).

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Yes, I probably should have mentioned that the order of the search terms can definitely affect the order of the results -- i.e., which results will be toward the top of the results list. But if changing the order of the search terms means Google might completely fail to return some significant pages that contain all the terms, that would be unpleasant news to me (and I think it would come as a surprise to most Google users). I was somewhat heartened to find that my kumquat, etc. search seemed to come back with 180 hits regardless of the order of the search terms (and for those particular words, the order of the results seems to be pretty much the same as well).

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Hi Steve

    Yes, it is a surprise. Mrs J has finally taken the plunge and started to use the home PC which is a major step. She went on a short course to learn the basics as she refused to have me help and was provided with the basic commands which she can get her head around. She still wonders why I put quotes around some things, I tell her and maybe she will use them in the future but she is happy with the basics for now.

    I have found this link Advanced Google Search Operators after Argus's comment in <post:=655,969>post 655,969</post:> an eye opener and hopefully helpful to other Loungers as a reference
    Jerry

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    Re: Inconsistent Google results

    Jerry,
    Here is a small Cheat Sheet (arrgh, try to pronounce that) from Google Help, with the some examples of basic operators, and some not so basic, that may be to some help to Mrs J.

    But still, you can impress (those who will be impressed) with allinanchor: etc. since it's not in the list of advanced operators. <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 alt=wink width=15 height=15>

    The link to the "Google Cheat Sheet" is found on this page: Advanced Search Made Easy (which you maybe know) which also holds a link to the page I mentioned earlier, Advanced Operators.

    There is a blog / tutorial called Google Guide, by Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek, with more information on the subject than is healthy. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    For searching I think; no matter what advanced tool you have, you must chose good key words, try to spell correctly (or if uncertain, use wild cards, truncate etc.), and start with a broad search and narrow it. But training on choosing good key words or looking in a thesaurus (index; for other databases than web search engines) is essential.

    Also I probably (as we don't know how Google result counts work) messed up badly before when I said "search result numbers, they're not logic", my example with OR did not have any problems with the numbers:

    a OR b, should NOT be the sum of both individual search results, i.e.
    pie 105,000,000
    cheddar 7,290,000
    pie OR cheddar 101,000,000
    the difference between 112,290,000 (105,000,000 + 7,290,000) and 101,000,000, 11,290,000, should be references that contain both key words if Google follows Boolean, and should not be counted when doing: pie OR cheddar.

    Too little coffee, or something ...

    But I think it is good that it is mentioned in the thread that some Web search engines have an implied AND, and some maybe even an implied OR, if you don't use an operator. Other search tools need an operator, but the Web is simplified.

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