New Backlink Tool from Google Webmasters

For years I have been frustrated with the inaccuracy of Google’s link: command. It produces results that are obviously lacking in content that I have turned on to Yahoo!’s Site Explorer tool to get a picture of link popularity of a site in question. Matt Cutts explains that it’s something to do with disk space available for serves that render results using that “link:” tool.
Screenshot of Google Webmaster Tool
But with the release of an update that has been extensively explained by Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land (this site rocks!!), I might just turn back to Google for more links information. After all, Google is known to value inbound links as a citation of trustworthiness when ranking pages so it’s logical that they provide a clearer picture.

It was also revealed that there is a reason why Google deliberately displayed (somewhat) incomplete data in terms of inbound links quantity. Google produces a sample of results which could change soon with Google’s two announcements of the new feature.

Google intended to release the information regarding a web site only to its owners (they have to login to Google Webmasters) before getting through the new Links page. It makes little sense to me why links data have to be kept under wraps.

As mentioned, a new tab labeled Links can now be visible. This section is divided into two: External and Internal Links. External Links (shown by default) obviously refers to pages with links that come from external sites while Internal Links refers to pages that are linked from any other page within the web site.

Each section lists pages that have links pointing to them. So if we have a site that has 100 pages and only 15 have inbound links, only 15 are displayed along with the number of links for each page. The numbers are clickable and will provide details on which pages provided hyperlinks. On the other hand if the site has 10,342 pages and all of them are indexed, there is a Find a Page function to locate certain pages.

An important thing to note is that for links that point to subdomains, they are counted for the domain name.

The best part I see is that both links and table data can be exported into Excel format. Neat!

There are things that I thought can be improved or enhanced though:

External Links / Internal Links can be sorted so that we can easily determine which is the most linked to page

  1. Last Found field can be sorted so we can tell which links are the freshest
  2. A link to return to the list of pages from the backlink details for people who cannot see External
  3. Links and Internal Links as clickable pieces of text (let’s not assume)

The only questions that remain in my mind is what took Google so long to release this oft-requested piece of feature. And why does the link: function is still in place within the Index Stats under Statistics.

Anyway, kudos to Google for providing this one.