TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google to Remove Boast About Index Size

Google to Remove Boast About Index Size

Michael Liedtke (
Tue, 27 Sep 2005 13:01:33 -0500

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

Google Inc. will stop boasting on its home page about the number of
Web pages it has stored in its index, even as the online search engine
leader continues a crusade to prove it scans substantially more
material than its rivals.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to remove the index
size late Monday. It will mark the first time in more than five years
that Google hasn't listed the size of its search index on its sparse
home page.

When Google started the practice in mid-2000, the index spanned 1
billion pages; as of Monday afternoon, Google's home page said the
search index contained 8.17 billion pages.

That figure qualified it as the largest in the industry until last
month, when nemesis Yahoo Inc. revealed its database included 20.8
billion documents and images. Unlike Google, Yahoo never listed that
figure on its home page, disclosing it only in a Web posting by one of
its executives.

Yahoo's claim nevertheless came under immediate fire from Google
executives, who questioned its accuracy before finally concluding that
the two companies are counting things differently.

Both companies want the bragging rights to the biggest index because
it can attract more traffic from less sophisticated Web searchers who
equate size with quality.

Google's index is bigger than ever, according to company officials,
although the breadth of the latest expansion will remain a mystery.

Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer products, said the index
is three times larger than its rivals and 1,000 times bigger than when
former Stanford University graduate students Larry Page and Sergey
Brin formed the company seven years ago. The index is believed have
spanned somewhere between 25 million and 65 million Web pages then. If
it's 1,000 times larger today, that would put its current size at
somewhere between 25 billion and 65 billion pages.

Mayer said that since apples-to-apples comparison are no longer
possible, Google decided to stop listing the size of its index and
instead invite Web surfers to conduct the equivalent of a "taste test"
to see which engine consistently delivers the most results, Mayer

"We think the absolute numbers have become meaningless, so we are
encouraging users to find out for themselves," she said.

Yahoo, whose search engine is the second most used behind Google's,
welcomed the challenge. "As we've said in the past, what matters is
that consumers find what they are looking for and we invite Google
users to compare their results to Yahoo," the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based
company said in a statement.

On The Net:

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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