How many pages does Google search? I’m guessing 9,620,000,000

How many pages does Google search? I’m guessing 9,620,000,000: Staci Kramer of PaidContent.org points to this NYT story by John Markoff who reports that Google has removed from its front page the number of pages it searches.

Quote:

“…the company is challenging users to guess the number of pages the service searches after phasing in a larger index and has removed the latest number ‘8,168,684,336’ from the home page.

Okay. I accept the challenge.

First, I’ll search for a random series of letters that don’t exist on any page. For example, “stacikramer*paidcontent” (except in my test search, I left out the asterik so that when Google indexes this page, my demo will still work).

Okay, now that I know those series of letters return no results – in other words, there are zero pages with that series of letters appearing on it, I will do a “negative search” on the series: “-stacikramer*paidcontent

In theory, the number of pages that Google can find without that series of letters is equal to all of the pages it searches: 9,620,000,000 as of a few minutes ago.

Or, at least, that’s the theory. However, multiple searches reveal different totals ranging from 9,580,000,000 to 9, 620,000,000.

Credit for me learning about this goofy hack goes to Tara Carishan who credits these folks.

  • Rachel

    Wonder if the results in any way indicate the most popular pages overall. I keep getting NRC: Nuclear Reactors as my first result…

  • rex

    Yes. I think you may be on to something. I think a list of “Nuclear Reactors” is probably the thing most people use Google to discover. At least, if they’re terrorists.