I am trying to understand how within Google Webmaster Tools (Google Index>Index Status) I can have a figure of 2,000 total indexed pages (and falling daily) yet when I search Google using the (site:) parameter I get a consistent 23,000 pages? Also, under (Crawl>Sitemaps) it says 19,000 Indexed which is about right for our sitemap. Yes, I understand it can take days or weeks for Webmaster Tools to update but we are talking about months here! What is going on? *This site is over a year old now.

  • Not sure if this applies, but it is usually the site: search that is the least accurate. Have you tried jumping through the SERPs, are there really 23,000 results returned?
    – MrWhite
    Feb 4, 2016 at 18:59
  • Ok, using the link extraction method described below excel shows I have ~611 indexed pages but Google says 'about 23,000 results' when I perform the search? But paging through the results it is definitely around ~611. But! I can find literally any page in Google from my 18,000+ page sitemap so it must actually not show all results? My entire sitemap is there for sure. So once again, why would Google say I have 2,000 total index pages (and falling) when I clearly don't and my site is not new? highposition.com/blog/…
    – user9722
    Feb 4, 2016 at 19:36
  • Honestly, your scenario does not make sense. I believe you, it just does not make sense given what I know. Here is an answer that will help clear things up: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/72610/… I am not exactly sure what is happening in your case - it is a bit weird.
    – closetnoc
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:22
  • I know it's weird trust me and I will report back when I figure this out! And I would recommend everyone here read closetnoc's answer in the link above.
    – user9722
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:56
  • Thanks for the vote of confidence! I thought at the time it was time to properly define the three metrics because they are confusing. Google can do some strange things sometimes - especially lately with all the updates some on-going. Perfectly valid sites are getting slammed and jerked around during the prolonged Panda update and pinged with the news/trend update, quality update multiple times, and all the other updates in between. It has gotten crazy and people do not know how to fix it. This is a Google tactic, but really it is a Google failing. I can go through some SERP failures too.
    – closetnoc
    Feb 5, 2016 at 2:37

1 Answer 1


The main problem you're having is that you expect numbers put out by Google to be accurate, but they aren't. This isn't specific to Google, it's true for all major web search engines.

The total result count is just an estimate, and it's easy to see:


The numbers published by Webmaster Tools are probably more true than the total result count, but, they are reported with a delay and probably don't mean what you think they mean.

Finally, a comment by @w3dk suggested "jumping through the SERPs" to find out how many results there really are. That is not accurate; all searches on Google return around 500-700 results even if it claims there are millions or 10s of millions of total results.

  • 1
    Totally agree, Matt Cutts has consistently reiterated in a number of webmaster videos that indexing statists are just an estimate.
    – John
    Jun 21, 2016 at 3:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.