Google's Link Report Now Much More Representative Of Your Links To Your Site

Sep 13, 2013 • 9:12 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster Tools Bug in LinksYesterday, Google announced they have immensely improved the linkage data from Google Webmaster Tools "links to your site" export option for "download sample links."

Previously, the download sample links report downloaded a sampling of links in alphabetical order and stopped after a maximum of 100,001 links. Now, the sampling of links is not done in alphabetical order, instead it is ordered in alphabetical order but rather it is "now sampled uniformly from the full spectrum of backlinks," said Google.

Google said you are now more likely to get "example links from different top-level domains (TLDs) as well as from different domain names," and yes, they will sort them alphabetically for you.

Google said this will make the linkage data "much broader, more diverse cross-section of links."

Why did Google do this? Google said because of the "feedback from the webmaster community." Specifically, Google told us links within the download is enough and then told us it is not enough and then had issues with natural links being marked as unnatural.

I believe this change will make the link reports ALL you need for analyzing your links if you have a penalty.

Google did not confirm that, but they did say they will provide "a better overview of those links, and those working on cleaning up any bad linking practices will find it easier to see where to spend their time and effort."

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Michael Martinez

09/13/2013 02:04 pm

So, Google, here is my feedback: THIS IS A TERRIBLE SOLUTION. I hope y'all continue to work on new ways to give people with lots of links better information. For example, simply noting that SITE ALPHA provides sitewide links in 1 line is fine. Then documenting any unusual links from that site should be fine. Listing every duplicate link in a sitewide placement is ridiculous. So is sampling them.

Marie Haynes

09/13/2013 02:42 pm

Unfortunately it looks like the new list of links is just the old list of links in alphabetical order. I have a few sites that I am working on to remove an unnatural links penalty that were given example links that were not in WMT. I downloaded the new list of links and the example links are not in there either. For those who are downloading this "new" list of links, you get it from clicking "Download more sample links". If you click "Download latest links" you'll get the old style list. From what I can see, both lists contain the same number of links, but the first one has them in alphabetical order. It's possible that the list of sample links is different for sites that have more than 100,000 links though. I haven't tested that yet.

Emma North

09/13/2013 03:45 pm

This is a start but it's simply not enough. With such huge crack-downs on backlinks and unnatural link building and the rise of manual penalties, we need more information on what site's did wrong before we can be expected to fix things. I know that some at Google have claimed that all the links you need to recover from a manual penalty, etc. are in GWMT but this is simply not the case; we know they've given example links (with unnatural link warnings) that are nowhere to be seen in GWMT. If site owners are prepared to take control and responsibility of their backlink profile and resolve any unnatural link issues from the past, whether caused through agencies, ignorance or anything else, they should be given all the tools and information to do it. Why is it still so difficult to find these links? Why do we have to use external tools to find more backlinks when we know that Google has the information or the penalties wouldn't exist! OK, rant over, but I for one am still expecting more transparency from Google when it comes to backlinks and penalties.

Barry Schwartz

09/13/2013 04:14 pm

Are you sure it is the same report?


09/13/2013 05:12 pm

New site I'm working on is under a manual penalty. I just spent 3 weeks analyzing and combing through every single domain in the WMT Links to your site file and submitted a new disavow and reconsideration request. I just heard back from Google stating that the site still had unnatural links pointing to it, and they cited two example links that were nowhere to be found in my Links to your site file. #frustrating

Mike H

09/13/2013 05:17 pm

Same report.

Juggernart Games

09/13/2013 05:23 pm

Two suggestions to Google: 1. Make the backlinks more "up to date". 2. Offer some filter options, for example "filter out disavowed links" or "filter out links from Flash content".


09/13/2013 05:26 pm

I just downloaded sample and latest links from Who Links the Most and Your Most Linked Content and can confirm that all 4 reports are the same.

Marie Haynes

09/13/2013 05:57 pm

I didn't check line by line but in each case, the number of links is exactly the same in the "download more sample links" and "download latest links" except that the first one is in alphabetical order.

Morgan Akchehirlian

09/13/2013 08:00 pm

In order to check out either your link profile is clean or not his will be a good update.Unnatural links are easy to find out now.


09/15/2013 04:09 am

Will Google tell webmasters the exact links that could be causing trouble for their sites, if any or will Google ask webmasters to figure out on their own problematic links to their sites?

Emma North

10/02/2013 04:19 pm

I know; this drives me mad. What do they expect us to do?! I'm more than happy to put in work cleaning up link profiles, disavowing, removing links, getting links nofollowed, etc. but when you're only working with a small amount of the data they actually have, you're always fighting the tide.


10/02/2013 04:23 pm

Quite the timely comment. I just returned from my 10 day honeymoon, having submitted an updated disavow file for the same site mentioned above after scouring the "Latest Links" file before I left. Response from Google while I was away: "We still see unnatural links to your site".. and cite three more examples nowhere to be found in the two files I've worked off of.

Emma North

10/02/2013 04:26 pm

I wish I saw more example links in each response. I've been chasing approval for nearly 10 months for one site now and in more than 10 reconsideration requests, only once did I get ONE example link. Everything since has been boilerplate no's. Very frustrating!

John Stirzaker

11/04/2013 02:58 pm

If Google finds an unnatural/spammy/bad link surely it should just automatically disavow it then it wouldn't pass any value to the site. Or am I missing the point???

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