Fewer Links to Your Site In Google Webmaster Tools? You're Not Alone.

Feb 5, 2013 • 8:28 am | comments (44) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster Tools Bug in LinksOver the past 20 hours or so, there have been numerous reports and concerns over the number of links being reported within Google Webmaster Tools "Links to Your Site" section severely dropping.

The number of links being reported in that section for many webmasters have dropped by as much as 75% for some webmasters.

There are threads at WebmasterWorld and many at Google Webmaster Help forums about the decline in the number of reported links.

One webmaster said:

I'm seeing a huge shift in what's being reported by the "Links to your Site" page across all the domains in my WMT account.

Something like 50-75% of Links that still exist and were previously reported are now gone.

Others are freaking out:

Where my all back link gone while I didn’t use “disavow links” tool????

In short, do not worry, it is probably a reporting glitch. It wouldn't be the first time. Google had a similar issue back in August 2011.

So do not worry, you have company.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Google Webmaster Help.

Update: Google's John Mueller said in another Google Webmaster Help thread that this appears to be a bug. He said:

This looks like a bug or a temporary fluctuation with how the data is shown in Webmaster Tools. Your links are still around and being counted normally within our algorithms (at least the sample I double-checked) -- this wouldn't negatively affect your site's crawling, indexing, or ranking in our search results. I don't have a confirmation from the team yet, but we'll update here as we know more. Thanks for your patience & sorry for the confusion!

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consultor seo

02/05/2013 01:45 pm

Dont FREAK PLEASE the total sum is the "sites linking" in. If you add the individual links from each site you will find the same amount

Jason Fritton

02/05/2013 03:40 pm

Consultor SEO, I don't think that's true. On one page my "total links" dropped from 140k+ to 133, and the individual links from each site listed doesn't even come close to what it was. On my brand new site I went from a few hundred links to zero. Seriously, zero. I imagine it's just a bug but it's scary.

Alexander Soloviev

02/05/2013 03:44 pm

And along with number of links dropped I have 3 most linked pages discarded from total count! I thought it's because of pagerank update and a temporary while Google still counting... Not sure at all now


02/05/2013 03:44 pm

Problem is I see this decline in Majestic SEO also....

Nathan Giesbrecht

02/05/2013 04:04 pm

Having the same problem across multiple sites and multiple accounts. I almost crapped my pants when I got into the office this morning. Hopefully it's just a quick glitch that they get fixed ASAP (along with the parameter handling bug that's been around for 2 weeks now).

Manish Dudharejia

02/05/2013 04:31 pm

I recently finished reading comprehensive post on what happened in the week of 15th to 17th Jan. (Here is the post - http://www.e2msolutions.com/blog/responding-to-the-link-devaluation-google-update-on-january-17-2013/ ) and it looks like the update was certainly related to links devaluation because Google seems started removing devalued links from GWT links data.

Nathan Giesbrecht

02/05/2013 04:41 pm

You might want to remove the ')' at the end of the link :)

Pratik Dholakiya

02/05/2013 04:43 pm

Perhaps this is a part of Link Devaluation? - It looks like my prediction has somewhat relation with what is being discussed above. Have a look and let me know if there's anything good. - http://bit.ly/Link-Devaluation

Manish Dudharejia

02/05/2013 04:44 pm

Done. thanks for notifying! :)

Manish Dudharejia

02/05/2013 04:55 pm

Nathan, I don't think this is something temporary glitch as it looks like a clear sign of link devaluation. Google doesn't typically omit links from webmaster tools for no reason.

Lisa Agostoni

02/05/2013 05:12 pm

Thanks for the update. I'll postpone the hari kari.


02/05/2013 05:20 pm

No, it's not a bug ) You're involved in link building, aren't you ? )

Jason Fritton

02/05/2013 05:23 pm

Yup, but I didn't lose 150K links from Forbes, Bloomberg, Time, and dozens of universities because google decided to devalue all of them. It has to be a reporting bug

Nathan Giesbrecht

02/05/2013 05:30 pm

That was my initial thought as well, but from what I've seen all the links that have been "removed" are links pointing to the domain root. I'm looking at a site that previously had 100000 incoming links, and I'd be open to the idea that many of those may be of poor quality (even though we've never even attempted any grey-black-hat link building), but I refuse to believe that not a single high-quality link is pointing to the main page. And there's also the fact that rankings haven't dropped off the map completely. That, and sheer optimism/hope, is why I believe this to be a glitch and not a massive devaluing of links. Not to mention I can't imagine Google being able to devalue 70%+ of web's links over night without severely affecting their own products in a very negative way.


02/05/2013 05:59 pm

Google is just not brave enough to devalue all links deserved to be devalued. The whole internet would be upside down ) But sooner or later, step by step, they will do this. Be prepared to see the nightmare then. Happy link building )

Jason Fritton

02/05/2013 06:44 pm

Theres a big difference between building spammy worthless links and developing high quality links through relevant content on valued sites. Google will always have some collection of metrics or signals that they use to determine the relevancy of a site. Links will likely continue to be a signal for Google for a long time to come at least in some form or another.


02/05/2013 07:02 pm

Not sure, if daily repeating of this mantra will make your nightmare less scary, but no doubt you're free to try )

Jason Fritton

02/05/2013 07:03 pm

Not sure if you're reasoning or evidence is sound enough to worry me =)

Ian Scott

02/05/2013 09:45 pm

Yes, it is a bug. If you click through to the Google Webmaster forum (the link is provided in the above article), you can see the admissions from Google staff that it is indeed a glitch.


02/05/2013 10:11 pm

Best way to increase up our inbound links is quality content

Wendy Piersall

02/05/2013 10:15 pm

I'm not convinced it is a glitch. Two of the sites in my blog network were hit particularly hard in the late December Panda update - and not so surprisingly, those are the only two sites in my WMT account that have seen drastic drops in backlinks.


02/06/2013 12:00 am

Sad ... ) Eagerly waiting for the bunch of angry Penguins or anything else to destroy the link building practice )


02/06/2013 03:04 am

anyone else getting 'No data' ie no links at all being reported? Getting that for quite a few sites right now :(

Pragya Sharma

02/06/2013 06:04 am

Couldn't agree with you more @twitter-26088004:disqus . I see "No links" at all for some of my pages, which is not possible. Because their position is still the same. Beside that, I even checked it via "links: " operator in Google, and am able to see more than 1K links for that page. So definitely some boner.


02/06/2013 10:24 am

I think this has to be a bug.Check your rankings and use different back-link tools like https://www.majesticseo.com to see if indeed your links has been devalued or lost. Common sense will tell anybody in link-building that if your current search rankings are still the same as the day or week before, then you won't have anything to worry about. And if it has been devalued by Google you are maybe doing spammy link-building or maybe think perhaps that the links you think are good is indeed of low quality. Remember folks to get those high quality links keep focusing on building good quality content.We know that is what Google likes :)

Niklas Aronsson

02/06/2013 10:48 am

Hey, thanks for this information Barry. Any suggestions on what to do about it? This was very bad timing for me, as the amount of linking domains the last week have been bouncing like crazy and I am working on cleaning up a link profile at the moment. The last week I have gone from 337 to 388 linking domains, and when I log in today I have 111..... It is very confusing, am I just suppose to wait for WebMasterTools to correctly show all the linking domains again or what do you suggest?


02/06/2013 06:20 pm

when I access Google webmaster yesterday Feb 5 and I noticed a drop from 1700+ backlinks to around 50. I suspect that Google found a away to clean the unnatural ones out from collective knowledge. Needless to say that my SERP suffered since Jan 17. It's interesting how my homepage completely disappeared from SERP 2 to nowhere on Jan. 17 and 2 weeks later, my backlinks got "cleaned up". When I analyze a download of the 1700+ links and the 50 remaining ones, I noticed that it seems that the 50 links are legit and the rest was kinda unnatural from a few SEO efforts. Tough to stay ahead of Google these days.


02/06/2013 06:51 pm

Temporary working test: Just replace your link in this url: www.google__DOT__com/webmasters/tools/external-links-page-to-domain?hl=en&siteUrl=http://www.YOUR_DOMAIN_DOT_COM/&blpage=YOUR_PAGE_URL_DOT_COM --Replace __DOT__ with .com --Replace YOUR_DOMAIN_DOT_COM with your domain name --Replace YOUR_PAGE_URL_DOT_COM with your page url Good Luck!


02/06/2013 07:01 pm

Different subject but has anyone noticed SERP's meta description no longer showing keyword(s) in bold? (only url keyword(s) are still bold) ???

Rank Watch

02/07/2013 06:00 pm

Think this is just a bug and not intentional by the search giant Google. They will certainly try to sort this out asap. Or is it just a gentle reminder by Google to the webmasters and the SEOs about why they shouldn't be obsessed about the number of links instead of quality links. This certainly does makes sense if its true. Tools like opensiteexplorer.org, ahrefs.com and majesticseo.com also shows varying (sometimes decreasing) number of backlinks to a site with each update or a data refresh.


02/08/2013 05:42 pm

My total links went from around 1,000,000 to just 59. Hope this gets fixed soon.


02/08/2013 06:33 pm

Thanks for the info.

Fox Crawl

02/09/2013 02:46 pm

for some it is more than 75 percent. in my case dropped from 116000 to 2500.

Will Spencer

02/10/2013 06:23 am

Unfortunately, this newest bug makes hunting down the links which are causing site penalties even more difficult. This is yet another free gift from Google to the negative SEO crowd.


02/11/2013 10:58 pm

Barry whats the update on this? im still missing over 75% of my links and my rankings got slammed when this happened!

Sarah Adam

02/12/2013 11:26 am

My CSS Awards nominated and featured site having URL, www.socialdnalabs.com experiencing the same problem whose links had faced a drastic drop. The same problem repeats in the case of my Corporate Training Company, www.mentor-global.com also. Anyway I hope Google come up with a good solution soon.


02/12/2013 12:24 pm

Yeah, Thanks For This Information ,

Milosz Pekala

02/12/2013 09:16 pm

Your link data should be back now. Panic hour can be postponed for now.


02/13/2013 06:46 pm

Links count are back to normal :)


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Salvatore Capolupo

06/17/2013 08:40 am

Some further note: I got a proof on italian official forum, some time ago, that "disavow" is NOT actually influencing the backlink reports. Maybe it will be so in near future... I hope!


11/13/2013 06:53 pm

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02/11/2014 09:18 am

When you disavow links or domains, will the data update (disappear) at GWT?

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