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The charts below show the size of each search engine's index. The larger the index, the more likely the search engine will be a comprehensive record of the web. That's especially useful for those looking for obscure material.

Current Size Comparison

Sizes are as reported by each search engine and as of December 11, 2001.

KEY: GG=Google, FAST=FAST, AV=AltaVista, INK=Inktomi, NL=Northern Light.
See the Major Search Engines page for links to these services.
Also use this key for charts below
Anyone looking for unusual or hard-to-find information may wish to try one of the search engines with a large index, because this means that they cover more of the web. Consequently, you have a greater chance of finding what you are looking for. However, for general searches or for when looking for information about popular topics, a large index does not necessarily equal better results.

Google is a special case. It has indexed 600 billion pages, but because of the way Google uses link data, it can actually return listings for additional pages that it has never actually visited. This gives it coverage of 2 billion pages; hence, the extended bar.

The Split bar for Inktomi represents the fact that not all of Inktomi's large "GEN3" index. Major partners that do use GEN3 are Iwon.

Search Engine Sizes Over Time

When AltaVista appeared in December 1995, it used an index much larger than any of the other search engines at that time. Thus, competition forced most of them to increase their sizes in early 1996.

Notice that from September 1996 until September 1997, none of the search engines increased size significantly, despite the fact that the web continued to grow.

From September 1997 through the end of 1998, AltaVista and Inktomi competed for the bragging rights of being the biggest. But by 1999, the fight to be biggest revolved between AltaVista, Northern Light and FAST Search.

In January 2000, FAST announced it had broken the 300 million page mark, giving it the largest index of the web. Soon after, AltaVista followed the same way. By June 2000, Google broke the 500 million page mark. In addition, some Inktomi partners began using that company's new 500 million page index in July 2000.

In June 2001, Google hit a new record for search engines -- 1 billion documents indexed.

Google became the King of all Search Engines.

Here's a closer look at recent activity:

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