Google Showing Fewer Than 10 Results For Some Searches?

It appears Google is testing showing fewer than the typical 10 web search results, in what might either be a test or possibly a bug.

I spotted complaints in a WebmasterWorld thread where searchers were asking why is Google limiting the results for a search query on Google UK for bbc football, such as shown:

As you can see from the screen shot above, Google is only listing one web search result, followed by a video result and then a news result – and they are all from BBC.co.uk.

We’d previously pointed out a reply in the thread that appeared to have been from Google’s Matt Cutts saying that this was a new feature, but on a second look, this is almost certainly someone faking responses from Cutts. We’re checking with Google about that, and whether this is a test.

Whether it’s an official test or bug remains to be confirmed. But it’s definitely something that can be replicated and for other searches, such as bbc cricket or bbc sport:

In the example above, for “bbc cricket,” only five web search results are shown, followed by a video result. But we haven’t been able to replicate this for other sites (such as itv football), so it might be a bug related just to the BBC site.

Microsoft Bing has done this with their form of Best Match when they first relaunched as Bing.

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Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Web Search

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://pzyche.com Jason Duke

    Just a heads up, you say “and they are all from BBC.com” whereas none of the results are. They are all from bbc.co.uk

  • http://www.fangdigital.com Jeff Ferguson

    Well, they have limited results for years, but usually because they are repetitive, etc., so this is apparently just the next logical step. Hopefully, like the earlier incarnations of cleaned-up listings, you have the option to expand them out a bit more if you don’t see what you’re looking for the first time around.

    You almost have to laugh and think of an extreme circumstance where they will eventually just have one result for all listings (aside from advertising, of course) and say, “Nope, this is it… we’re sure of it…”

  • http://andylangton.co.uk Andy Langton

    Jeff:

    “So I don’t know how to characterize the next 10 years except to say that we’ll get to the point – the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time. ”

    Guess who?

  • http://jobsonica.com Max Khazanovich

    Barry, thanks for sharing your findings as the google.co.uk results can be replicated from here as well.
    Apparently, it’s a test. The latest article on Mashable titled Google Knowledge Graph Could Change Search Forever ventures into the search AI. You can read it below:

    http://mashable.com/2012/02/13/google-knowledge-graph-change-search/

    “Google has a confession to make: It does not understand you. If you ask it “the 10 deepest lakes in the U.S,” it will give you a very good result based on the keywords in the phrase and sites with significant authority on those words and even word groupings, but Google Fellow and SVP Amit Singhal says Google doesn’t understand the question.”

  • http://www.fusionunlimited.co.uk Craig Broadbent

    All of the examples given are very navigational. I search for “bbc football” regularly and always click through to the bbc football page, i’m not interested in what other results there are. I presume that other users do the same, therefore if Google has click through data that shows most or all people visit the bbc football site after performing that search then it makes perfect sense to limit search results.

  • http://www.digistrategy.co.uk Russell McAthy

    BBC sport recently (about a week or two ago) re-branded their site and re-coded. Quite likely its a bug coming out from that.

  • http://www.kevinheath.com Kevin Heath

    No AdWords on this SERP either!

  • http://www.thebingoonline.com/ TBO

    There has been lot of changes we are recently seeing on seaches in Google. Specially in online gambling space we see a lot of .co.uk domains getting ranking in Google.com (US Searches) I don’t understand why this is happening as it is affecting our ranking as we target US. My site is getting lot less hits as it used to get.

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