Google’s Index Size
Google stopped showing their index size – the page count of all indexed web documents – on their homepage some time ago.
In order to see how many pages they indexed, different approaches were effective during different times (always only returning approximations, and varying ones depending on the datacenters you hit, but those approximations were sometimes seemingly more up-to-date than official numbers Google offered). For example, at one time searching for * * used to work and showed a page count (over 25 billion documents in January this year), but it doesn’t work anymore, returning no results at all.
My question is: which search query is currently the most effective in returning a high Google page count? For example, a search for “to be” | -“to be” returns about 15,450,000,000 results at this time (theoretically, this search query – other than being a neat Shakespeare quote! – ought to return every page Google indexed, but practically this doesn’t seem to be the case, as the number is relatively low). The weird search query *-“a displays a page count of 17,960,000,000. What other tactics yield high or even higher page counts on Google.com?