As some of you know, the folks over at Search Engine Watch forums, including myself, have been giving Google a heck of a time with the link command. The thoughts are, that if Google provides it and claims on their Web site that it shows all backlinks to a Web page, then it should work as such. Of course, you and I know that it shows a selection of backlinks to a page, but not everyone new to Google and SEO knows that.
So, GoogleGuy stopped by the thread to chime in. Some interesting quotes for you:
I'm pretty sure I've said it several times. Google's link: command shows some, but not all backlinks to the specified url. That's the first time someone has pointed out the wording on that link: page; I'll be happy to mention it to our webmaster. Was someone really expecting to receive 2.6 million+ links because of the wording of that page?
Now that would be nice, thank you GoogleGuy.
This is very interesting historical information for you guys that analyze how Google handles the link popularity stuff:
Google doesn't return all backlinks in response to a link: command. In the ancient days, it was because there was a finite amount of storage space on the machines that served link: requests. So we only kept the backlinks for the top N pages. Later as we moved to a different indexing system, we kept backlinks for the top M% of pages. This was helpful for important pages, but it meant that Mom and Pop sites with lower PageRank wouldn't have as good a chance to see their backlinks.
And proof that Google does listen to SEO's suggestions:
At SES London, DaveN had a suggestion. He said: why don't you give all pages an equal chance of seeing backlinks? That's good for users, who will have a greater chance of seeing backlinks for a given page, and it's especially good for smaller websites--they'd have a chance to see backlinks. It seemed like a good idea, so we implemented it. In fact, in order to give each page a better chance of seeing backlinks (instead of just the top M% of pages), we doubled the amount of backlinks that Google exports to the outside world. So users now have access to twice as much link: data as before; it's just not all the top PageRank pages.
Do you think Google will show ALL backlinks in its next update? We will see...