How does Google decide when to display multiple results from the same website?

How does Google decide when to display multiple results from the same website?


MATT CUTTS: OK. Today’s question comes
from Vancouver. Jzbecker wants to ask, under
which circumstances will Google decide to display
multiple results from the same website? It’s a really fun question,
because the answer has changed over the years. But the high level answer is,
when we think it’s useful and it doesn’t hurt diversity
too much. So let’s look at the interplay
between those two factors. Let me talk about a system that
we used for years and years and years, like since I
joined Google, this long. There was something called
host crowding. And what host crowding did is,
suppose you had one result that showed up from example.com in the search results– these are search results– and another example that also
showed up from example.com. So what host crowding basically
said is, OK, to make things a little bit more easy
for the user to parse and read through, let’s take anything
that’s on that first page, and we will indent it under. So you’d have two results from
example.com, and the second one would just be indented
a little bit underneath the first one. That makes it easier for the
user to visually group those results and know, oh, these
are both from example.com. It’s safe to say that we’ve
done a bunch of different experiments. Host crowding lasted for
a long, long time. And it was really, really nice
because you’d often have a see more results from example.com. So you could click that,
and you can do an even deeper dive. But it was also very nice
because it ensured diversity. That is, if you had seven or
eight results from GeoCities, sometimes that can crowd
out other good results. And so you could see a couple
of the best ones from GeoCities, but then you’d
also get diversity. You’d get the rest of the
results showing all sorts of nice things along those lines. Now what’s the limitation
of that? Well, host crowding, if you only
allow two results, that’s kind of a hard limit. Sometimes it might be
more appropriate to show more results. Sometimes it might
be appropriate to only show one result. And host crowding was a little
bit limited in that respect. So that was one thing
to consider. The other thing is it also
messes with the UI just a little bit. Because once you get used to the
indentation, it’s really nice, but it limits
your ability to do other sorts of things. It limits your flexibility
a little bit. So it was very nice
for the time. It was a radical improvement
over many search engines that might return 60 results
from one site by grouping them all together. But we’ve sort of evolved in
our thinking over time. So the sorts of things that we
have done after host crowding include deciding to show
multiple results. So maybe you’re willing
to show a few or even several results. But then over time, it gets
harder and harder to see results from that particular
host name. And that can be kind of useful,
because if you search for antique green glass,
you might get eight results from one site. And if that’s the best site in
the world to get results from, then that’s fine. You might want to see that. But if it’s not really a great
site, as far as you don’t want eight out of the top 10 to
belong to that site, then if it gets a little bit harder for
each subsequent result to show up, then you’ll get you
tune it, so that you get as many as you think is useful. And then you start to get
diversity after that. And you start to
get good stuff. Just to jump back to host
crowding just for a second. There was also the fact that
host crowding, by definition, is on hosts. And so at least for a while,
if you had a different subdomain, then you had
a different host name. And so a few people would try to
make multiple subdomains on the same domain to try to get
around host crowding and try to get as many results
as they could. So for a while, people used to
think, oh, I’ll just make a whole bunch of subdomains, and
I’ll get around host crowding. And that’s the sort of thing
that is still not a good user experience, because it hurts
the diversity for users. So let me talk a little bit
about the way that we think about diversity and the number
of results you can see from one website right now. You want to show as
many results as you think is useful. And that’s the tricky bit. What the user is looking for
can vary depending on what they’re searching for. For example, if they type in
something like HP or IBM, probably a lot of pages or a
lot of results from HP is a good answer. So several people have noted
that it’s possible to get more than two, more than four, lots
of results from Hewlett Packard if you search for HP. But that’s OK. The user has indicated
that’s their interest by doing that query. But in general, what we try to
balance is this trade-off between a good diversity of
results, because you don’t know exactly what the user
was looking for. So you want to give them a
little bit of a sampling to say, OK, here’s a bunch
of different possible interpretations. Here’s what you might
be looking for. And then we also want to
absolutely give the results that we think match
the query well. And sometimes that can be
from multiple pages within the same site. So there’s always a tension. There’s always a trade-off in
trying to figure out what is the best set of search
results to return. There’s no objectively true
or perfect way to do it. We’ve varied our scoring. We’ve varied our user
interfaces. And if there’s one thing you can
count on, it will be that Google will continue
to test out ideas. Google will continue to evolve
how often we think it’s appropriate to show how many
results from how many sites in the search results. But that gives you a little bit
of the insight about what we’re thinking about, why it’s
sometimes a good experience, and why sometimes it’s not as
helpful for users to see a lot of results from the same site. Thanks very much.

15 COMMENTS

    I was searching for something yesterday, and out of the first 3, yes 3 pages, I didn't go further than that, Amazon must have had 20+ results listed.. Oh, BTW, I wasn't searching for Amazon and all those pages didn't seem to have the exact product I was doing a search for But, lately, a lot of searches have been messed up. We can only hope that things will get better, instead of worse, as we have seen in the last couple of months. Well, it does make it better for Amazon, etc.

    I guess it was naive to hope that Google would reveal how they pick their resources.
    Flag for misleading title? ;-D

    So Matt is basically saying that the current way they show multiple results from the same site is less useful, harder to use for the users, and how they had it before with the 'host crowding' was far better for website owners and user alike.

    Well done google. One step forwards and at least two steps back…

    I still don't understand why TripAdvisor holds almost all the results for any destination, even when I'm logged out. This must be a bug. Many of the pages listed are dupes. It's a very poor experience for me.

    It's RIDICULOUS!
    Try searching for Golden gate bridge – I'm getting like 30 results from the same. Why is google trying to guess that i might like to know about parking or toll booths at GGB??!??!?!???!
    They keep screwing with the formula – this is enough for me to go to Bing.
    But the real tragedy is the small businesses that are relegated to page 15…

    Google did a horrible job on this one. I just searched for
    astra tech implant bangkok
    and output remimds me about some obscure search engines back from 1999. 20-30 results on the first page lead to the same website, then it's all mixture of links, some websites appear more than once, so you're supposed to remember domains you've visited already…. this is a nightmare.

    Google is Broken especially adwords , they are rude people and I think the government has some to do with how they treat people.

    I finally figured out why Google is doing things this way. They try to pass it off as something it's not, but what it is is that now Google fills the first few pages up with one or two sites, which FORCES people to buy Adwords. If you want to be listed where it matters, now you HAVE to use adwords to get your site noticed. Look at Google revenue since this has been happening. My adwords costs have gone up in costs for these keywords. So essentially they become more valuable Goolge wins

    I just can't use google anymore. I look for something and then pages and pages (100 results each) are youtube only. Or any other single site only.

    Another month gone by and the results still favor ONE site in results. I still stand by my thoughts that this is artificially inflates the cost of keywords and adwords clicks. I don't know how Google can continue to keep showing result after results from the same place! If you are not the company that Google "decides" should be listed 20-30 times,( i've counted as many as 50!) then ultimately you are penalized, even though you are actually the 2nd company listed in the natural listings.

    Google this is so ridiculous. I cant search anything without getting page after page of nothing but Youtube links as my search results or LivingStrong which is full of the most nonspecific information in the world. It is impossible for me to find any useful information whatsoever. I have no option but to stop using google.

    Seems like the answer is yet again about quality and diversity on the balance. That said, focusing on quality contents is the best way to go when it comes to getting on the SERPs. We'd all be better of focusing on that instead of the technicalities of SEO.

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