Google Said Webmaster Tools Links Is Enough But It Is Not!

Aug 8, 2013 • 9:05 am | comments (34) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster ToolsTwo months ago, we quoted a Google search quality representative named Aaseesh as telling us that all the links you need to analyze can be found within Google Webmaster Tools link report. Despite it only being cited as a "sample" of links, Google said all you need are the links within that report.

Heck, I was not confident so I even asked Google's John Mueller to confirm the fact and John Mueller indeed said this was true.

But is it?

Marie Haynes posted topic in the Google Webmaster Help forums where she said a client of hers received an unnatural link notification from Google but the example inorganic link cited by Google was no where to be found in Google Webmaster Tools link report.

I obviously don't have access to this Webmaster Tools account to verify but I trust Marie.

I checked Majestic SEO and the bad link doesn't show in their reports also.

But the main concern here is that Google told us all we need is Webmaster Tools links but here is proof that we need more. And if we need more, how do we get the bad links we cannot be confident that the link tools we have access to for free or paid tools have this data?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Update: On August 15th I finally got word back from Matt Cutts and posted those details on Search Engine Land. Here is Matt Cutts comment:

It’s certainly the case that we endeavor to show examples from the set of links returned by Webmaster Tools, and likewise we prefer to assess reconsideration requests on that basis of those links. However, if there’s a really good example link that illustrates a problem, we do leave enough room to share that link, especially because it can help point the webmaster in a better direction to diagnose and fix issues.

Previous story: Google AdWords Adds More Conversion Reporting Metrics


Michael Martinez

08/08/2013 01:34 pm

If it's a transient link it might not be proof that you need more than GWT's reports. One isolated incident really doesn't prove anything but this is certainly an interesting anecdote.

The Lone Ranger

08/08/2013 01:37 pm

Google speak with fork tongue Kimo Sabe. At best they are just not sure what their other hand is doing and at worst they are deliberately telling lies. You decide as a webmaster if google is on your team or opposing your team. I find it hard to see google partnering with webmasters like they did at first, rather they now hide and conceal basic information that would do nothing to protect their algos but rather just to make life incredibly hard to play by their rules.

menachem rosenbaum

08/08/2013 01:41 pm

what if you have more then 100K links, linking to your site? in a case like this Google doesn't even claim to give you all your data

lez bennet

08/08/2013 01:43 pm

The 'Google Webmaster Tools' incoming links is so outdated, its worthless. But useful for Google to hold onto a penalty. So they update it once every 5 months on purpose to keep reminding you of the 100,000 backlinks you have from Magadoo or Buddymarks. Just forget about naturally linking and pay for google adwords, Its what they want.

lez bennet

08/08/2013 01:44 pm

I reckon you're correct

Leeza Rodriguez

08/08/2013 01:46 pm

It would be great to have a G tool to check URL's for the 'unoriginal content' Panda penalty. If many pages of my site have been scrapped over the years, how am I to know which URL's carry the Panda Content Penalty? It is sickening enough for content to be ripped off, but even worse to have to guess which URL's are being penalized for this reason.

lez bennet

08/08/2013 01:47 pm

menachem rosenbaum • you have a lot of natural friends

Charles Floate

08/08/2013 01:47 pm

Matt Cutts and Google speak a load of Drivel - Now, whenever I see "Matt cutts said this" "Larry page said that" "The guidelines have been changed" - I just say: IDGAF and carry on with my own tests.

Giovanni Sacheli

08/08/2013 01:48 pm

Exactly, I used to do backlinks analysis merging database from different tools: WMT, Ahrefs, MOZ and MajesticSEO due to the fact that if a banned-porn-site links to a site and the poor site is penalized by this porn-link, in WMT I probably can't see the porn-link because the porn-site is out of Google index... So, if this is really true WMT is not enough

Mahesh Chauhan

08/08/2013 02:06 pm

yes , it is true


08/08/2013 02:13 pm

I find SEO workers playing in the field of "G". Algorithm can not be rely on. Just trust your instinct.

Anthony Shapley

08/08/2013 02:46 pm

Hi Barry, This same thing happened to us about 4 weeks ago. After multiple failed reincluions, Google came back with examples and those 2 of the examples were not in the Webmaster Tools Data - we checked immediately after getting the message. Cheers, A

Marie Haynes

08/08/2013 03:02 pm

Thanks for writing about this Barry. I am positive that we can still remove the manual penalty on this site as Google doesn't need to see ALL links gone but just that we have done our best and gotten a good number of them removed. However, my concern is for sites that are dealing with Penguin. This particular link is not visible on WMT, ahrefs, majestic or OSE, yet Google sees it pointing to the site. The link is followed. There's nothing in robots.txt stopping backlink checkers from seeing it. The page is in the index. How many other links are there pointing to this site that Google is seeing but no backlink checkers can? Perhaps this is why we are not seeing Penguin recoveries?

menachem rosenbaum

08/08/2013 03:35 pm

I wish that was the case... but I'm working on an international brands website

henry nguyen

08/08/2013 04:41 pm

there are always cache links that we dont see on any reports..

Jörn Hampe

08/08/2013 06:03 pm

How you get these examples from Google? I have the same Situation with my site.

Jörn Hampe

08/08/2013 06:14 pm

Hi Barry, After five failed reconsiderations I am hopeless. I need more infos from Google. I disavow a lot an build off a lot off Bad links. How does it works to geht detailed information Form Google? Need help. Best Jörn


08/08/2013 06:21 pm

You say you can't find any bad links or you've removed all the ones you can find, can they give a specific example in your recon request


08/08/2013 06:25 pm

We said this when Google started with this. I have little sympathy for people who seem to have relied only on bad links but it goes to deepen the Negative SEO issue. Yes, Matt Cutts and Google are giving slightly off-handish information, like denying Negative SEO. They can't really admit to it can they. They opted for the nuclear deterrent and there's no stepping back. They gave too much "direct" advice... They dont have the tools for people to analyse back links. Let me give you an example. We get lots of people citing blog posts on our site - no doubt SE RoundTable has thousands more. But we have a lower sample rate. If two "bad" domains link to us or cite us - that's now "Accidental Negative SEO" ? And we have to have a Majestic/Moz subscription to tell? You could point fingers at Moz/Majestic/Ahrefs for driving link-obsession/cheating but equally Google allowed this to grow up by acting too late.

Jörn Hampe

08/08/2013 06:26 pm

You are right. Removed a lot of bad links and disavow a lot. Need more infos whats wrong with my site.

John E Lincoln

08/08/2013 07:38 pm

Barry, I blocked almost every link in WMT, except for top sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Google still said that bad links were pointing at the site! WMT links are not enough! It is ridiculous. Honestly, I was so upset today I wrote a letter to Google. I am sure they will never read it, but at least it made me feel better. Maybe you can share it with them, you talk to them all the time.

josh bachynski (SEO)

08/08/2013 08:03 pm

john mueller has already said WMT links are not enough - it is only a sample


08/08/2013 08:05 pm

it already confirmed fact what we cannot believe any information from google. Many things is exactly opposite than they say to us.


08/09/2013 12:23 am

Some people say that you don't need to worry about disavowing your bad links if you have not gotten a manual penalty from Google, but you have just fallen in the search rankings due to the Penguin update. Is there any consensus on this?

Craig Hamilton-Parker

08/09/2013 10:56 am

Google will reply if you write (a real letter) via your MP or Vince Cable (UK). With my particular grudge - about Panda - I complained that it was damaging small British businesses. I complained that there is no way to get replies from Google about my concerns and could they write on my behalf. Okay I got back the usual platitudes but politicians tell me that they are unaware of the problems that the Google algorithms are causing legitimate websites. This is the way reform and legislation happens and I hope will help Google see the damage it is doing.

Iwein Dekoninck

08/09/2013 11:40 am

Agreed. As well, for a large client we're seeing a large amount of flux in GWT latest link downloads, up to 1,000 new domains on a weekly basis. Our conclusion is that Penguin recovery is an iterative process.

Anthony Shapley

08/09/2013 02:27 pm

Did you get more info after Googles new feature? If not - after 3 - 5 reinclusions you will usually get examples. But you are also in last chance saloon after that many attempts.

Frederick Gimino

08/11/2013 02:56 am

I agree 100%! I know your site and it should not be penalized! Your site is one of the most reputable in the niche. Very sad to see so much work go by the wayside at the hands of the big G! Good luck and my best regards Craig.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

08/11/2013 10:07 am

Thank you Frederick. It was a site that admittedly made money but its primary focus was to help people and educate people about the genre I'm interested in. I have noticed that other good sites have also been hit and now all were are left with in my genre are the highly suspect ones that are out to stitch people up. Grrrrrr Google.


08/12/2013 04:42 am

Hi, yes I took this info using just the WMT tool links and put in a recon request and got knocked back. So then I did a full report via ahef backlink tool to find all backlinks. I went through these and then put in another recond request and it was successful. So yes you need to look at the full backlinks, not sure why Google are telling people this as its just wasting people's time. Maybe they are trying to improve the tool Mark


08/13/2013 05:59 am

That's why, instead of creating Manual Action tool in WMT, Google should have invested some time and money on creating a tool that can help sites hit with Penguin and Panda. All Manual actions are almost informed through WMT, yet they have created this tool. Making fun of webmasters that were hit by Penguin and Panda updates, as they are trying the tool to check if they are hit by manual action. But I am sure of those, +90% sites are not hit by manual action but by Penguin and Panda.

Brent Yorzinski

09/18/2013 12:07 am

I am definitely appreciative and am thankful that Google responded to a reconsideration request with specific examples. Thus definitely kudos where deserved.I knew the GWT (particularity with sites in excess of 100k+ links) is not enough in advance from the simple KW preferred in the statement "... likewise we prefer to assess reconsideration requests on that basis of those links..." I took this verbatim to assert that such is not always the case. Similar to Marie, one of the example links provided to me did not appear within the GWT data confirming my assertion. Still, as mentioned, Google acted fairly, informed transparently of such, kindly took the time to reply with specific examples, and appreciate that Google is working to make the search results better while also assisting webmasters. OT: Google possessed no obligation to provide specifics. Many people often forget that feedback provided by Google is a courtesy and any advice is provided free (they posses no obligation). Many webmasters feels Google owes them something. Google is a corporation that does not owe anything to individuals aside from fiduciary duties to shareholders. I add this since many people often forget that Google could elect to not provide any of these insights to webmasters; it would certainly reduce one expense for the company.

Cathie of Ducktoes SEO

09/18/2013 12:27 pm

Use Majestic Seo or Ahrefs instead of GWT. That will give you the information you need. Or you could use Link Detox.


03/19/2014 02:28 pm

I always worry about negative SEO :(

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