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Our site has about 6500 pages. These are kept up to date in our sitemap.xml.

When I go to our Google Webmaster Tools account I see that Google has indexed about 6000 of our pages. This seems quite accurate.

However, when I do a google search for "site:mydomain.com" I get back about 11000 results.

Last weeks this number was around 6000 but it's almost doubled.

What could be the cause of this, and how do I diagnose the issue?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

First of all, the number of results shown by a site: search is only an estimate.

Try going forward to the next page in the site:mydomain.com search results, and see if the number changes, or if you find something revealing (like some files that shouldn't be there).

If there's really an issue, it could be duplicate content, or some non-HTML content that has slipped into the index.

You can check for duplicate pages by searching for site:mydomain.com [unique string on some page] and see if this results in two URLs with duplicate content.

You could also run some third party crawling tool and see what you get that way. For example, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

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+1 thanks for your input arttu! Diagnosing tips are very useful. – andy May 13 '13 at 2:35
The results count is only an estimate in general really, and horribly inaccurate. "moon" gets 922,000,000 results. "moon -landing" gets 1,920,000,000 results. – Adam Lynch May 13 '13 at 21:06

6500 is the total number of contents/pages or it also keeps track of aggregations, subsections or things like that? if you have, for example, a WP site, you also have to keep in mind that each tag also have at leas one page, so while maybe you do not have content duplicate problems, maybe there are some CMS feature that actually create more pages than you think

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The reason can be due to canonical urls. WWW and non-WWW versions can be seen as different pages by Google. That may explain why the numbers doubled. The other reason may be the fact that the pages that you have removed are not yet de-indexed by Google.

To diagnose the issue, I suggest you look through a couple of urls manually.

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Remember, google also index tags, category, and taxonomy. Those also considered as pages by google. Sometimes , google also index query of your script e.g. Example.com/user?id=54 example.com/search?query=query

or maybe, the result is not right, some time google result is less than it estimates . I once discovered that google said it found 1000++ results, but i can only found result till page 70.

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