It really puzzles me that any Google search counts far more "results" in Firefox or Chrome than in Chromium. Google says "About 1.460.000 results" for "natty narwhal" in Firefox or Chrome but only 914.000 results in Chromium. Does anybody know why that is so? Which results are better?

To add some information: I was observing this for over a month on 4 different machines in 2 different networks using very different internet gateways. Searches are performed more or less simultaneously thus the local IP and the network routes were similar.

Just to point this out again: the browser in question is Chromium (not Chrome).

Update: According to Bruce Connor's comments it may be that cookies, the state of being logged in or not, or other information influence search results. And, it's true when performing a search in "incognito" mode of Chromium as jhominal suggested far more results are displayed.

To hopefully get a more precise answer: What might that be from my cookies or "secret Google user profile" that makes about half a million results from the search irrelevant, to the opinion of google?

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    You should ask this on WebApps.stackexchange.com instead. – Jonas Oct 26 '10 at 19:24
  • Sorry, but I'm not a member of WebApps (yet). – Takkat Oct 26 '10 at 19:43
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    @user3940: You can just sign up in about 5 seconds. Your account will be automatically linked with this one. – Matthew Oct 26 '10 at 19:54
  • Actual test for Chrome vs. Chromium reveals that search results are similar for Firefox and Chrome but much less when searching with Chromium. Note that Firefox and Chromium are included in Ubuntu packages but Chrome is closed source. – Takkat Oct 26 '10 at 20:33
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    It is not a navigator/network/etc problem: I get 1'500'000 results on Chrome (in normal), and 1'750'000 on IE and Chrome Incognito mode (on Windows XP) - Chrome is on the same machine in both cases. I would suggest that you redo your tests in Chromium incognito. And, once again, [WebApps][webapps.stackexchange.com] would be a better place for this question. – jhominal Oct 27 '10 at 9:20

I believe I have it nailed down.

Google uses items from your past searches to narrow your searches results.

The highlighted link to "Web History" (available when you are connected to Google) lets you know what kind of history information Google uses to narrow your searches down. (It can be a lot of things, but default settings only look at your past Google Searches) Picture of the link to Web History

After a visit to that link, a nuking of the "Web History information", and some wait time for Google to flush results from its system, results became consistent between incognito and normal mode in Chromium.

I believe that Web History is used only for people who visit Google Search while connected to a Google account. (Which will be your default state if you are a Google account user.)

After some more verification, I have confirmed that Web History is also activated by default for people who do not have a Google account (I suspect it works with a cookie). Though one cannot see what kind of information Google has without a Google account, there is a link to choose to opt-out.

NB: I believe that the only other big factor in Google's results is the chosen search language (obvious when you think about it, but it kind of bugged me before I saw that Chromium was set in English and Chrome in French).

  • Cool! Thank you for this very consistent explanation. – Takkat Oct 28 '10 at 6:13
  • Fixed a mistake about whether Web History was applied to users without a Google account or not. – jhominal Oct 28 '10 at 7:05

For me http://www.google.com/search?q=natty+narwhal returns “About 1,270,000 results” in Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Amaya, NetSurf, Midori, Epiphany, w3m, elinks & lynx.

Do you want me to test any more browsers? ;-)

  • Thank you for including tests on Chromium, at least somebody :-). However obviuosly you cannot reproduce my findings. Might is come from sth else? But what? Hmm. – Takkat Oct 27 '10 at 7:04
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    Did you use the same exact link to search? And didn't it get redirected to another language/country site? Also, things might differ somewhat depending on what country (IP range) you are, what the default language(s) configured in your browser is/are, etc. In any case, I doubt the differences are the result of using a different browser. – JanC Oct 27 '10 at 8:10
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    The browser sends a lot more than just a search string. Depending on what cookies you have in each one, google might be defaulting to localized searching in one browser and global searching in the other. – Malabarba Oct 27 '10 at 13:03
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    Let me fix that. Even if you somehow force it to go a global search on both browsers, google might still refine the results differently depending on your cookies. Anything they might use to identify you mattersa lot. It also makes a lot of difference if you're logged in on one browser but not the other, or if one of the browsers uses a different DNS server or a different proxy. – Malabarba Oct 27 '10 at 13:07
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    One more thing. The URL posted by JanC returns "About 1,290,000 results" when I'm logged in (both in firefox and chromium), but the same URL returns "About 1,450,000 results" when I'm NOT logged in (again, on both). – Malabarba Oct 27 '10 at 15:38

Google is run on a huge distributed network, with clustered servers behind load balancers and proxy servers. I'd say the browsers are hitting different servers whose indexes are not in sync. There must be some inconsistencies when they replicate than much data.

For the same search I get 1,680,000 in Chrome, 1,690,000 in Firefox. I doubt the browser is relevant, it's more pot luck.


  • I do believe the browser is more relevant than anything else. I'm not convinced that run at the same time from the same network any browser should take other routes on the remote clusters if not by some deliberate action. Oh, and I'm not talking about Chrome, I use Chromium. – Takkat Oct 26 '10 at 19:48

Is probably due to how Google's algorithms select which data is relevant or not, depending on the browser and string.

Firefox string:


On Firefox - 1.280.000 | Chrome - 1.280.000 | Opera - 1.280.000

Opera String


On Firefox - 1.280.000 | Chrome - 1.280.000 | Opera - 1.280.000 The results are identical, but using google.com.br, when using google.com the results are: On Firefox - 1.260.000 | Chrome - 1.270.000 | Opera - 1.270.000

Chrome String


On Firefox - 1.280.000 | Chrome - 1.280.000 | Opera - 1.280.000

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    Just did some testing: the search result string does not have an effect. However it matters if you use Chromium vs. Firefox/Chrome. – Takkat Oct 26 '10 at 20:30
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    Edited to include my results. – lovinglinux Oct 26 '10 at 20:53
  • Where is Chromium? – Takkat Oct 26 '10 at 21:33
  • I don't use Chrome or Chromium, but I have Chrome installed for testing. Last time I tried Chromium it was too buggy on my system, so Chrome is enough for my tests. – lovinglinux Oct 26 '10 at 22:17
  • still, Chromium is the browser in question. I have same results for Chrome, FF etc. too. Still no clue why this is not the case for Chromium (that btw also has "Chrome" as client in search string). – Takkat Oct 27 '10 at 7:11

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