Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful

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Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful RichKorea 9/9/12 7:54 PM
A few days ago, I started getting a new search results display that does not display the results count (the new layout has also moved the options that were on the left side to the top).

The results count, which were interesting to see so I would know if I had searched for something common or rare, is vital for helping non-English speakers evaluate their phrasing. For example, a company in Korea has on their brochure the phrase "alloy zinc" rather than "zinc alloy". A week ago, I would have told them to double check their phrasing by running both through Google and see which is more common (I did a quick check using Bing, which still displays the results count, and it's 87,800 to 1,460,000, so clearly "zinc alloy" is the more common and correct expression).

My other issue with the new results design is it now requires three clicks to set a time range (e.g. one week). Before it was click on "Search Tools" and then "Past Week" - two clicks. Now it's click on "Search Tools", click on "Any Time", and then click on "Past Week". While having to click one additional time isn't that difficult, it seems like a step in the wrong direction (isn't the goal to reduce clicks, not add them?)

Advise on how to get the count to display again will be appreciated.

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Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful Thomas P. 9/10/12 4:51 PM
Not sure if you've seen it for yourself, but there are some screenshots of the experiment currently being thrown at more and more users,
Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful RichKorea 9/10/12 11:55 PM
Hi Dingus,

It would appear that I am seeing the new (and hopefully on temporary) experimental interface. The search results page I’m seeing is the same as the screen capture Thomas P. posted (I’ve also uploaded a screen capture).

Your response didn’t list any methods to configure the results, so I’m assuming the results count is gone, at least for as long as Google is feeding me this new page format.

As for the validity of using the Google results count as a sort of vote for which phrase is more common, my Korean friends who do it find it to be helpful and feel, while it is time consuming, it is effective for identifying the more common way of wording something. (The method only works for short phrases of two or three words.)

The people who use this method aren’t really looking for a translation, plus the Google translate for Korean-to-English isn’t that accurate (compared to the French-to-English, for example). The main application for this method is after having written something, if they have second thoughts about the way a phrase is worded, it gives them a way to check. Also, writing an email in Korean and then using a translation site to translate to English doesn’t help the writer improve their English. As all of the ESL teachers I know tell their students, they should write directly in English, rather than translating.

For the search time-frame selection, I only used a date range a few times, when I was looking for information related to an event that happened a few years ago and I wanted to avoid search results that referenced the same event, but only covered the start and not the finish. I do use the Past week or Past month options quite a bit, as it’s the easiest way to see recent articles and postings related to a specific subject. For example coding for mobile websites – the technology is changing so quickly that while a posting from two years ago might match my keywords perfectly, the information on the site will be out of date.

Hopefully, whomever is responsible for deciding whether to include the search results count will see this posting and decide to put the number back in. Granted, for most searches, there are millions of results, so the number is generally meaningless, but there are times when the number is helpful.

Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful Sarah Me 9/14/12 1:50 PM
Hey all,

You guys nailed it. This is an experimental version of the page and involves no form of configuring on your end. This does mean for now that you won't see the result count numbers, but you could always try opening up a new browser or using an incognito or private browsing window. 

I am really happy you wrote in with your feedback on the result count numbers as we don't often hear about how helpful it can be for particular scenarios. Feedback about these kinds of ideas and testing we are doing is incredibly useful and will be sure to pass along. 


Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful Thomas P. 9/14/12 11:15 PM
Please, Please, Please: Make the numbers go away.
They're not only grossly inflated, but also illogical - in such a way, that they're mostly incomparable.
RichKorea's example (a simple word switch) here, is a lucky corner case of RichKorea's scenario.
To realise that, one only needs reading a common complaint,
like: Perplexing search results when using quotes
Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful RichKorea 9/15/12 12:16 AM
Hi Sarah,
I tried a private browsing window in Firefox (my primary browser) and Google did revert to the older display. I also tried logging out of Google, but the search display remained the same. I tried a search in Chrome and it used the older display (while I like the Chrome browser, Firefox is my primary browser as I’m use to Firebug, plus I keep clicking on the Close-Tab icon accident when switching tabs, so then I have to reopen the tab).

For now, if I really want a rough count for something, I can open up Chrome, but long term, I sure hope that the powers-that-be will restore displaying the counts. While I may be interested in a rough count five times out of a hundred searches, I do find it really nice to have it those five times. If there are more than a billion search results, it’s a good indicator that I can add some more search terms to narrow down the results, especially when the first few results don’t match with what I’m looking to find.

I do appreciate Thomas P’s point that the numbers can be inflated and illogical. I’ve seen cases in the past where results would display a count like 4,000, but when I started going through the result pages, the count would suddenly drop to maybe 76 and there would be a note on the last page that similar results were dropped. I always figured this was due to Google being a search engine and not a relational database where an exact count on a field is easy to get.

Still, I’d like to vote (if we’re allowed to vote on the subject) that the counts stay in, and hopefully the gurus at Google can figure out how to get searches for “is a good show” versus “good show” to return logical results (good show is the example from the thread Thomas P referenced in his post).


Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful Thomas P. 9/15/12 4:07 AM
>> ... the numbers can be inflated and illogical ...<<
Or more precisely: The numbers can be illogical, but they are always inflated. (only exception is when there are less than ca. 100 results)
When comparing numbers of non-same degree of query complexity, then they will be illogical/incomparable.
When comparing numbers of same degree of query complexity, then the larger number will be then more common, but!
- There's no real way of telling what degree of query complexity Google take a specific query to be.
And then there are of course the most obvious problem: The highly variable inflation.
In best cases, the number is a factor of 50-100 greater than reality; In worst cases, it's a factor of 80,000 - 150,000 greater than reality.
When users see e.g. "About 257,000 results", then:
  • Many/Most  users will assume, that the "About" together with the nice round figure means the intervals of [256,500 ; 257,500[
  • Some, few fairly savvy users, will assume that results count may be +/- 10-80% , i.e. a factor of max. +/- 1.8
What all people do know, is that computers are great reliable and precise machines when it comes to handling numbers (including basic algebra). When a computer system presents a number, saying that it's "About" (i.e. an estimate, an approximate number) then I'll bet eating my old hat, that it's filthy few people that'll ever naturally get the thought that the number presented is actually anywhere from +5000% to +15000000% greater that the real number. And the few people who manage to notice the gross discrepancy between the estimate & the actual number, will most likely think is just a rare freak error, instead of normal operation.
Well, The truth about the figure on display, is that it's political.
Forget about data, forget about software, forget about databases, forget about architectures, forget about data mining strategies & techniques, platforms, distributions, mathematics, ... forget all about all technical engineering & all the science behind every little detail.
The figure has been a gross exaggeration through many many years, if not always.
It's a deliberate political decision, which is being deceptive to all users alike.
Q: Why(?) A: Market!
Q: Where do advertisers put their money(?) A: Where they get the most exposure towards most promising potential buyers.
In classic traditional newspaper advertising: circulation numbers has always been the most important factor for selling adverts, with content type & relevancy as the strong runner up factor. In Google's case: Users usage activity is the equivalent of circulation numbers.
Q: How do you convince users to come & "engage" (?) A: By posing as having a huge abundance (count!) of "fresh fruit". You will obviously need some "real fruit", but putting up mirrors in the fruit department of your supermarket - does enhance/increase the looks/count, without any of the hard work called for by having real fruit.
Q: How do you convince advertisers about your users being & staying in place (?) A: Besides the user stats, then it's plain to see that no users could possibly ever want to be or move to anywhere else, when results' count clearly say "This is Eldorado".
Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful Susan Doran 12/2/12 3:35 AM
The count is a point of reference to see the effect of refining my search. If I want to winnow down and winnow down. Or maybe I want to expand - same principle -- and NO, I don't want a pie chart or graphics -- I want numbers. It provides context. Please bring it back. Why, from a normal users' perspective, would it be desirable to get rid of them?  

I also don't like the change of search refinements to the top, from the left margin/rail or the squashing in from the right rail, further reducing spaciousness (which seems so anti-Google) -- BUT I can tell those are permanent design changes, tho very lame. So the ONE must-change PLEASE is restore the search count functionality!
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Re: Search is no longer displaying the results count - and it was helpful bluequoll 12/2/12 4:28 PM
The results count is still there, but is obscured by the search tools bar when search tools are in use. If you're not seeing the results count, try clicking "Search tools" to dismiss the search tools bar.