Frequently Asked Questions

Search Questions

Q: How do I search within results?

A: Sometimes a search is in the right area but gives too many results. To narrow the results down, you might want to do a new search that searches only within the URLs returned by the too-broad search query. This is often called "narrowing a search" or "searching within the current search results." Google makes this process easy. Since Google only returns web pages that contain all the words in your query, to narrow a search all you need to do is add more words to the end of your query. This gives you a new query that will return a subset of the pages returned by the too-broad query. You can also exclude a word by putting the "-" operator immediately in front of undesirable term.

Q: How can I restrict my search to specific extensions, e.g., .edu?

A: We are constantly seeking to build upon our search capabilities, but we currently don't support this kind of restriction. However, often adding the extension -- that is, adding "edu" as a query term -- will work quite well. The "-" operator may be used to exclude any unnecessary terms. You may also want to take a look at our special searches.

Q: How do I remove previous searches when I begin a new query?

A: Fortunately (and unfortunately), this has nothing to do with Google. It's a feature of Internet Explorer 5.0, which is possible to disable using its menu. (You can verify this by going elsewhere on the web and filling out a form on a page, and then returning to the page on which you filled out the form. It's a feature of IE 5.0 that can probably be turned off via one of IE 5's many menus.)

Q: How can I set the default number of hits to 100?

A: For the time being, this functionality is not supported. We hope to make your search experience so efficient so as to pre-empt the need to scroll through more than 10 results.

Q: Why does it seem like I receive more results when I refine a search?

A: Google has numerous technical features for optimizing its performance. Please note that when you did a Google search for your first query, you were not told that Google had exactly x number of matches; rather, you were notified of at least x number of matches. In fact, Google may have had significantly more than x number of hits for the first search.

Q: How are query results listed?

A: Google's order of hits is determined by a combination of several factors, including PageRank priorities. Please check out our Why Use Google page for more detail, or take a look at Larry and Sergey's article The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine for pleasure reading.

Webmaster Questions

Q: Do I need to submit updated and/or outdated links and pages to Google?

A: Google updates its index as often as necessary, so updated or outdated link submissions are not necessary. We should be able to pick them up during each crawl.

Q: How do I submit multiple pages?

A: Please visit our Add URL page to input your URLs. Only the top-level domain is necessary; you do not need to submit each individual page. Our crawler, Googlebot, will be able to find the rest!

Q: Why doesn't Google index any of my pages?

A: Pages that have not been indexed yet probably haven't because not enough other pages on the web link to them -- if other pages don't link to them, we can't assign them a PageRank (our proprietary measure of a page's importance) in a reasonable way. Once other links point to them, we'll pick them up. Google looks at the link interconnectedness among pages and allows the open, vast nature of the Internet to yield the most relevant search results.

Q: What is the amount of time the Google robot takes to index a URL once it is submitted?

A: Depending on the timing of the submission and our crawl, the entire process can be anywhere from one to four weeks.

Q: Where is my page's title?

A: Unlike many search engines, Googlebot can return results even if it has not yet crawled that page. Pages that are known but haven't been crawled can be returned as results, but since we have not yet looked at them, their titles aren't shown -- instead, the URL is shown.

Q: How do I request that Google not returned cached material from my site?

A: Google stores many web pages in its cache to retrieve for users as a back-up in case the page's server temporarily fails. If requested to do so by a site owner, Google may remove certain cached content from the Google Search Services. We evaluate requests for removal of cached content on a case-by-case basis and do not guarantee that every request will be granted.

Googlebot Technology Questions

Q: How do I request Google to not crawl parts or all of my site?

A: There is a standard for robot exclusion at You can put a file on your server called robots.txt that can exclude Googlebot or other "web crawlers." Googlebot has a user-agent of "Googlebot". There is another standard for telling robots not to index a web page or follow links on it, which may be more helpful in some cases, since it can be used more conveniently on a page-by-page basis. It involves placing a "META" element into a page of HTML, and is described here. Remember, changing your server's robots.txt file or changing the "META" elements on its pages will not cause an immediate change in what results Google returns. It is likely that it will take a while for any changes you make to propagate to Google's next index of the web.

Q: Why is Googlebot asking for a file called robots.txt which isn't on my server?

A: Robots.txt is a standard document that can tell Googlebot not to download some or all information from your web server. For information on how to create a robots.txt file, see The Robot Exclusion Standard.

Q: Why is Googlebot trying to download incorrect links from my server? Or from a server that doesn't exist?

A: It is a property of the web that many links will be broken or outdated at any given time. Whenever anyone types a link incorrectly that points to your site, or fails to update their pages to reflect changes in your server, Googlebot will try to download an incorrect link from your site. Also, this is why you may get hits on a machine that is not even a web server.

Q: Why is Googlebot downloading information from our "secret" web server?

A: It is almost impossible to keep a web server secret by not publishing any links to it. As soon as someone follows a link from your "secret" server to another web server, it is likely that your "secret" URL is in the referer tag, and it can be stored and possibly published by the other web server in its referer log. So, if there is a link to your "secret" web server or page on the web anywhere, it is likely that Googlebot and other "web crawlers" will find it.

Q: Why isn't Googlebot obeying my robots.txt file?

A: In order to save bandwidth Googlebot only downloads the robots.txt file every week or so. So, it may take a while for Googlebot to learn of any changes that might have been made to your robots.txt file. Also, Googlebot is distributed on several machines. Each of these keeps its own record of your robots.txt file. Also, check that your syntax is correct against the standard at: If there still seems to be a problem, please let us know, and we will correct it.

Q: How do I register my site with Googlebot so it will be indexed?

A: See the Add URL form.

Q: Why are there hits from multiple machines at all with user-agent Googlebot?

A: Googlebot was designed to be distributed on several machines to improve performance and scale as the web grows. Also, to cut down on bandwidth usage we would like to run many crawlers which run on machines close to the sites they are indexing in the network.

For more answers, see the Robots FAQ.

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