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From the horse’s mouth, Google confirm what’s going on with ‘link:’
Example of a link search: In recent times, the use of a ‘link:’ search on Google would show all sites with a PageRank of 4 or above that linked to the target URL of your search. This data changed in the last few months to something that appeared random and fairly useless in terms of its reliability. Google, through their unofficial mouthpiece GoogleGuy, let the following be known to the world on this subject.

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.

At SES London, it was suggested to us: 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.

Q: Ah, you know, I hadn’t noticed that all those “I don’t see any backlinks for my site” threads were getting more and more rare in the last few months. So there are twice as many backlinks available, but from a broader spectrum of pages instead of just higher PageRank pages?
A: Yup.

So now you know. Quote taken from the marvellous

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Filed in Blog, November 20th, 2004. Leave a comment, or trackback from your own site. Follow comments via RSS

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