"We're celebrating our seventh birthday...We had a pretty strong year," Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a phone interview with CNET News.com, as he listed the launch of new products including Google Talk, Google Earth, Google Video and Google Desktop Search. "And we've sort of been struggling here with respect to the index. It has always been much larger than the others."
"We're announcing tonight that in terms of unduplicated pages our index is now three times larger than any other search engine," he said, without saying how many pages are in the index.
Google will stop providing on its search page a quantity of pages indexed, which previously was listed as 8 billion, "because people don't necessarily agree on how to count it," Schmidt said.
In addition, the company will encourage users to test out the search engines using a specialized query to see which provides the most results, he said.
"We want end users to derive the number to their satisfaction. They will discover that ours is larger," he said.
In a random test, using the search terms "Joe Schmoe" and "pickles," Google returned 451 results, Yahoo returned 62 results, MSN returned 60 results and Ask Jeeves returned 54 results.
Google took exception when that at more than 20 billion, its index was larger than Google's.
Search Engine Watch Editor Danny Sullivan has argued that relevancy matters most, and has urged the search engines to come together to develop a uniform way to measure relevancy.
"Who's biggest really doesn't matter, as I and others have written so, so, so, so, so many times before," he wrote in a blog after Yahoo's announcement last month.
Asked to respond to Sullivan's comment that relevance trumps size, Schmidt said: "You get better relevancy and more comprehensive news with a larger index."
"We congratulate Google on removing the index size number from its home page and for recognizing it is a meaningless number," Yahoo said in a statement. "As we've said in the past, what matters is that consumers find what they are looking for, and we invite Google users to compare their results to Yahoo search at http://search.yahoo.com."