Why such a huge descrepency between Google indexed count and URL's in index?

I am doing some SEO cleanup work for a client and am seeing huge fluctuations between the count of pages indexed as returned by Google at the top of the search results and the actual number of URL’s indexed that it returns for a given site.

If anyone has any insight on why this is…I sure would appreciate hearing it.

I go to Google and enter “site:domain.com” (domain.com being a dummy domain for purposes of this post).

Google returns a little under 500 pages as being indexed for the site. Actual links returned I mean on 5 pages of SERP’s.

But the top count of indexed pages has fluctuated from a whopping 2000 to as little as 180. All while the same 5 pages of SERP results are returned.

I have Google instant off. Setting to 100 results per SERP or 10 makes no difference.

Why such a huge descrepancy?



When you use site command, the results displayed are from your site only…

while in other case results from different domains are also included. this is the major reason for the discrepancy.

Hi Sharon,

I appreciate your input but I do not believe you understand the nature of what I described.

Yes…the site operator does indeed return results of what is on your site only but the descrepancy in the count that I pointed to is that which is between the actual results returned and what Google reports on the top line FOR my site!

In other words if one pages through the results to the last page of those results one might see 500 pages (in 5 pages of SERP results when set to return 100 links per such page). Even though the count might say 2000 or 180 or whatever number Google cares to pull out of it’s hat at any point in time.


It’s been the case for a long time that Google tends to overestimate how many pages it can return for a given phrase. You don’t usually see it because it pulls up millions of sites and you rarely look beyond the first page or two … but for longer phrases, for narrower image searches, and going back in time before Google’s index became quite as mahoosive as it is now … I’ve often seen Google advertise loads and loads of results found, only to find that it peters out before getting half-way to that number.

Yeah…what’s unnerving is when Google shows wildly different figures for the total number of site pages indexed for a given site in the same day in separate searches.

It makes that number completely unreliable I guess.

Thanks for the input you all.