The myth that everything is indexed...

Is it really true that search will reveal everything we ever did online?
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Occasionally, I Google myself to see who is referencing my work. A couple of years ago Google returned 160,000 references to my name.

In March 2009 Google returned 135,000 references.

In August 2009 Google found 102,000 references.

Today, Google had 94,100 results for "Tom Foremski."

I write a lot here on on ZDNet and elsewhere and often people will reference my work in their posts. Surely, my search results should be growing and not shrinking?

Plus, now there is Twitter too, where my handle is tomforemski. Google found 98,500 references to "tomforemski" more than my actual name -- yet I've been publishing online for more than 20 years, ten times longer than on Twitter. Shouldn't I have far more references than my Twitter handle?

Clearly, something is not right. Clearly, the number of results that Google claims is bogus.

Here's another example. I found this post by Debbie Weil, a veteran author and speaker: Redux: Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

At the time of writing the post, May 2009, she had 143,000 results. Five years prior to that she had 77,900 results. That's a decent increase.

Today, if you Google Debbie Weil you'll find just 33,200 results.

What's going on? Why are there fewer results?

Also, have you ever tried to see the very last result of your name? I tried to see the very last result in March 2009, I could only get as far as 552. Today, I could only get as far as the 304th reference.

What's going on?

We are warned that Google will remember everything about us, all our youthful transgressions, everything we did online is searchable.

That's plainly not true. In fact, the longer the time between now and then, the fewer results.

At this rate I'll be practically invisible online within a few years...

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