If Google is driving you mad with its erratic behaviour, take heart in that you are not the only one to suffer at the hands of this temperamental search engine. Greg Notess reports on yet more Google oddities in his blog (Super Clustering Google).
Greg ran a search on powells books with his display preferences set to 100 per page. Google only displayed the first four of about 962,000. He then changed the number to be displayed to ten, and Google gave ten results. When he switched back to display 100, the number went up to 18. He then clicked on the message at the bottom of the results screen: “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 18 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.” That gave an estimate of about 2,810,000 total hits and displayed a full 100 on his screen.
I tried the same search on Google UK and got a total number of hits of 2,290,000 but it would only display 319. Clicking on the display omitted entries option reduced the number of total hits to 1,340,000. I should point out that the total number of hits that Google says it has found is generally a work of fiction. I have never found it to be reliable unless you have refined your search extensively and are getting numbers in the region of 50 or less. Even then, results can disappear or reappear at random.
I repeated the search in Google Canada, Germany and France and got totally different but equally bizarre results. Needless to say the results totally changed when I repeated the experiment 24 hours later!