Two questions about the link: operator

By | January 25, 2020

>>CUTTS: Sven Heß from Wiesbaden, Germany
asks, “How accurate is Google’s backlink check (link:…)? Are all nofollow backlinks filtered
out or why does Yahoo/MSN show quite more backlink or more results? The short answer
is that, historically, we only had room for a very small percentage of backlinks because
web search was the main part and we didn’t have a ton of servers for link colon queries.
And, so, we have doubled or increased the amount of backlinks that we show over time
for link colon, but it is still a sub-sample, it’s a relatively small percentage. And I
think that that’s a pretty good balance because if you just automatically show a ton of backlinks
for any website, then spammers or competitors can, you know, use that to try to reverse-engineer
someone’s ranking. And you don’t necessarily want some else spying on your rankings and
trying to figure out how they can compete with you by getting every single link that
you got. What we do instead is a nice compromise. If you registered your site in,
our webmaster console, then you can see all, or practically all of the banklinks that we
know about you. So, a vast, vast, vast, you know, majority of the banklinks that we know
about are there in Google’s Webmaster console. So, you can look at a sub-sample for any website
or any page on the web, but if you want to see pretty much the full dump of what we know
about, you can see it for your own site but not necessarily for your competitors. We think
that that’s a pretty good compromise, and so that’s probably the policy that we’ll have
going forward. San Diego, Tim from San Diego says, “If you have inbound links from reputable
sites but those sites do not show up in a search, does that mean you
are not getting any credit in Google’s eyes for having those inbound links? No, it doesn’t.
Link colon only shows a sample, you know, a sub-sample of the backlinks that we know
about. And it’s a random sample, so it’s not like we only show the high page rank backlinks–that’s
what we used to do–and then anyone who had a page rank four or below wasn’t able to see
their backlinks because their weren’t in the high page rank, they weren’t getting high
page rank links. So we made it more fair by randomizing which backlinks we would show
and we also sort of doubled the number of backlinks that we would show at that time.
Now, what’s interesting is if you only show links that flow rank or that we trust or that
are, you know, don’t have a nofollow, then people could kind of reverse-engineer that
and say, “Oh, I’ll try to get the links that are really valuable.” So, we show the links
that do, you know, carry a lot of credit in our system and we also show the links that
we don’t really trust or don’t really carry a lot of credit in our system. So, it is truly
just a random sample of, you know, stuff that’s nofollow, stuff that’s followed, stuff that
we do believe a lot, stuff that we don’t trust as much. So, just because you don’t see one
particular link and link colon, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t or does flow–reputation,
page rank, whatever you want to refer to it as. If it’s your own site, you can use Google’s
Webmaster console, sign up, and get a very complete, basically, the vast majority of
links that we know about as a dump that you can even download it as a CSV file. So, if
you do want to get a really good idea of your backlinks, that’s the place to go and get
a pretty exhaustive list of your links according to Google.

9 thoughts on “Two questions about the link: operator

  1. Fabio Ricotta Post author

    Hey Matt, do you counts nofollowed links or not? According you, yes. Check at 2:34 minute.

  2. Mark Palmer Post author

    The way random links are reported via the public link: command does make sense, as explained. However the real issue is links reported privately in GWT – webmasters assume those are considered legit and try for more of same.

    Why? Feedback is nominally assumed to be positive. Obviously, if goog wanted to discourage certain links, they could best do that by not recognizing them in GWT.

  3. Mark Palmer Post author

    also regarding question #2 – what if the good links known to you do not show up in GWT? Is there a way to tell GWT about links you're stoked and proud of?

  4. Sam Stevens Post author

    This might sound dumb, but where in GWT can you check the "full dump" of inbound links? Under Index Stats I see the link: query but it returns the same results as compared to doing the search when not logged into GWT. Am I not looking in the right place?

    Meanwhile, a search query I've always liked for checking backlinks is:

    "mysite[DOT]com" -site:mysite[DOT]com

    (replace [DOT] obviously)

    But I imagine this doesn't tell me which ones Google is actually crediting to my site.

  5. Sam Stevens Post author

    Found my answer… "Pages with external links", click number of links at right.

  6. Mudanzas Económicas España Post author

    Good answer Matt!, several questions were answered for me

  7. Shawn Stevens Post author

    I don't know about this video. Do you habe any others that can back it up?

  8. Spook SEO Post author

    It will all boil down to the logic of balance. Of course, no one, needless to say, would want to be downright "cheated" by other SEO specialists, so it is wise enough that google would filter search items randomly especially when we're talking about back links.

  9. Sourjya Banerjee Post author

    Hi Matt, based on your explanation above, i could not quite understand what it would signify if link:mydomain shows absolutely no results. When i Google for link:mydomain, for my website, i get no results at all whereas my webmasters show all of the back-links. Why is that so?


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