I was reading about options (the financial instruments), and found that both "option expiration date" and "option expiry date" are commonly used terms for the same thing. I decided I would use Google search result counts to try and get a quick sense of which term is more widely used.

So here are the searches I did:

1: option expiration date: 45,700,000


2: option expiry date (Including results for option expiration date): 14,200,000


3: option expiry date (Search only for option expiry date): 85,200,000


You don't need a degree in computer science to see that there's something wrong with those numbers. If (truncating now for concision) expiration=45M and expiry=85M, then how can expiry+expiration=14M?

In general, can Google search result counts be relied upon to indicate ascendancy of terms?

(Note: I originally posted this on Stack Overflow at https://stackoverflow.com/questions/28378063/why-do-these-google-search-result-counts-appear-to-be-inconsistent, but got ripped to shreds for being off-topic, and now I've finally discovered Super User, which seems to be more appropriate for this question. Sorry for the duplicate post, and feel free to educate me on which sites should be used for which topics, or whatever.)

  • It is off topic here too IMO. Did you read the help section of either site as they will help you to see what is on / off topic? SuperUser and StackOVerflow are both part of Stack Exchange, you can't cross post (put the post on both) so please delete one of them
    – Dave
    Feb 9, 2015 at 9:07
  • Well damnit man! Is it on-topic anywhere? Have I found a hole in the universe?
    – bgoldst
    Feb 9, 2015 at 9:08
  • I just 'closed' your SO question by casting the final vote. How do you think any one could answer this? I suspect the only ones who know are those who study Google, or, Google!!! You may get luck in the 'chat' section of webmasters webmasters.stackexchange.com?
    – Dave
    Feb 9, 2015 at 9:09
  • @Dave This is an excellent question. There must be a reason why Google's search result numbers don't stack up. Someone out there may well know why this is the case.
    – misha256
    Feb 9, 2015 at 9:15
  • 1
    Google's mechanics are a trade secret. Even if somebody did know the answer they are unlikely are able to share it. This cannot be answered.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 9, 2015 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


I decided I would use Google search result counts to try and get a quick sense of which term is more widely used.

Don't do that. It has long since been debunked as a linguistic methodology.

Google's mechanics may be trade secrets, but we have Google employees on the record saying that these numbers are estimates, and indeed the Google API doco itself explicitly said so some years ago. Common sense also says so. (Some people apparently think that for every search that happens, Google's system actually goes and counts millions of pages. That would be an inefficient and slow way of going about things. These are not counts.) These "hit counts" are a meaningless metric. Do not rely upon them.

Further reading

  • Who exactly is Jonathan de Boyne Pollard? What sort of authority does he have? I can't find any connection to him and Google. I feel this answer could simply be reduced down to the estimates displayed are only estimates likely based on the results that people ended up clicking.
    – Ramhound
    Feb 9, 2015 at 17:02

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