Google has been rather coy about sharing exact user numbers for its new social network Google+. Answer.com’s Paul Allen has been using an interesting statistical model to estimate the number of current users based on an analysis of the percentage of uncommon surnames he has found on the service. In his estimate, there should be about 10 million users on the service today. Now, it looks like there could be an easier way to discern the number of Google+ users, though. Jonathan Nelson, the founder of Google+ community site GooglePlusAnswers.com, argues that a simple Google search query could give us a pretty accurate user count without having to resort to complicated statistical models.
According to Nelson’s method, which is based on searching Google for “site:plus.google.com *** –sljktf” (this should provide you with a list of all Google+ profiles, including those that don’t have any PageRank number assigned to them yet), there are currently about 9,460,000 users on the service. Google, after all, always lists the total number of results it finds on its search results pages and searching for all Google Plus profiles should result in a pretty accurate count.
A few caveats, though: Depending on which server farm you hit, you may also just see 3.990,000 results. I would guess that the higher number is the more accurate one (and let me know in the comments if you see a different number!). Chances are that given how fast Plus is growing, some of Google’s servers simply haven’t updated their indexes yet. Also, depending on how often Google updates its index, these numbers may already be a bit out of date.
If I’m not mistaken, all Google+ profiles have to be public, but there may still be some private ones out there as well that don’t appear in this Google search.