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9/27/2005
02:32 PM
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Google Declares Victory in Search Index Size

Rather than saying how many pages it indexes, Google now simply says its index is "more than 3 times larger than any other search engine."

For its seventh birthday, Google, Inc. has a new way to measure the number of Web pages in its index: The company has abandoned absolute counts in favor of relative comparisons.

Until yesterday, Google's home page listed the company's search index at over 8 billion Web pages. That was a substantial number until August, when Yahoo claimed that its search engine index exceeded 20 billion items, including 19.2 billion Web documents, and assorted images and media files.

Rather than upping the ante, Google has decided to fold and declare victory without showing its hand. The search company now says its index is "more than 3 times larger than any other search engine."

In the absence of numbers that can be tested and confirmed, the index measurement game then is effectively over. And that may be for the best.

As Ken Moss, general manager of MSN Search, framed the issue in his blog, "This discussion should turn to overall search engine quality... It needs to be a measure of how often our customers get their answers." That's true for users of any search engine.

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