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Why Google might be showing just four results

September 29, 2010 One Comment

I was trying to find that video earlier made out of GIFs from the history of the web. And I came across an example of Google showing only four results instead of the usual 10 (even though it found thousands for my search term - something a couple of other people have seen Google testing).

At first I thought it was an idiotic test. Then I decided it was genius.

Here's a screenshot (click to see it bigger):

Just four results showing

Just four results showing

Initially, I couldn't think why anyone would want to see just four results - especially when I was struggling to find what I wanted and had already put two similar searches in. Wouldn't MORE results be better, not less?

And then it struck me that maybe that was why.

Here's what I'd done to trigger it:


Searches that triggered four results

  • First I'd searched for [ica gif] (as I remembered there was something about contemporary art in the tweet I'd seen it in).
  • Then I searched for [Gif video].
  • Then I searched for [history animated gif video].

So maybe Google worked out from the multiple similar searches that I was struggling to find the right search term. In response, it showed me a shorter version of the results page - so that it would load faster. This, in turn, means I would eventually find the right search term more quickly.

So, quite clever after all. Here's the video.

Cache Rules Everything Around Me from Evan Roth, audio by Girl Talk.

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