Bill Hartzer

Glitch in Google Site Search Operator

The past few days, I’ve been seeing what I can only describe as a glitch in Google’s site search operator. When you search for all of the pages in a web site using the site: search operator, Google normally shows you the pages that they have indexed. They have an estimate of the number of pages (which can be way off) but nonetheless it’s there.

For SEOs, especially SEOs doing SEO audits like I do on a regular basis, we rely on the site: search operator. There are several helpful search queries that we use, such as:

site:domain.com
site:domain.com -site:www.domain.com
site:subdomain.domain.com -site:www.domain.com

Those search queries can oftentimes show us which subdomains are indexed, for example. That can be very helpful, especially when seeing if development or “dev” versions of the site are indexed when they shouldn’t be. We need to have that information when doing a technical SEO audit.

So, the other day I noticed that the site:domain.com search query is NOT working. But it sort of does. Here’s what I mean, using the example of Microsoft.com–which I KNOW is indexed in Google. But apparently it’s not:

If you search for site:microsoft.com there are NO results.

But, if you search for site:https://www.microsoft.com you will see that there are about 3,920,000 results:

I have been able recreate this same result with dozens of domain names, some very large web sites and some smaller web sites. It just doesn’t make sense to me that Google would have no search results for a large domain like Microsoft.com.

Try it for yourself, and tweet to me at @bhartzer on Twitter if you find the same thing. Looks to me like a few refreshes or waiting a day it will come back and show you results. But it’s very glitchy at the moment–at least the past few days.

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