Over the weekend, Jim Hedger noticed that there were huge fluctuations in the numbers of links that were being reported in Google Webmaster Tools. He’s reportedly seen as much as 500,000 links reported, and then at a later time it was less than 1,000 links. Based on my own site’s link data, I’m now seeing over 200,000 links being reported.
From my past experiences, I’ve come to find out that Google Webmaster Tools, in the past, would not show more then 100,000 links, even for websites that I’ve worked on that have over 8 million links. So, doing a link cleanup project on a site with 8 million links: Google Webmaster Tools was pretty much useless.
Currently, though, as I check Google Webmaster Tools for my own site (billhartzer.com), I see that they are reporting 212,000 links:
But keep in mind that unfortunately that includes about 99,000 links from one particular site, a site that I didn’t request to be linked from–and a site that rarely sends my site traffic. In fact, I’ve disavowed that domain and asked that links be removed.
Let’s take a look, though, at what other sites say about the number of links to my site:
Open Site Explorer:
As you can see, the amount of links reported can vary greatly from one tool to another. Majestic SEO is more accurate, though, in my opinion. By the way, I need to disclose that I am one of Majestic SEO’s Brand Ambassadors, so I might be a little bit biased. But nonetheless, it is what it is.
As for Google Webmaster Tools, they’re definitely making changes to the link counts, as I have never seen any site have more than 100,000 links reported in Google Webmaster Tools. Randomly looking through GWT and links to various sites, I’m seeing one site show 105,000 links, another showing 117,000 links and another showing 223,000 links. There’s another with 134,000 links. So they definitely are reporting more links now. But apparently not all the links?
While Google is telling us that, for example, my site, billhartzer.com, has 212,000 links, when I go to download the actual links? It only shows me 65,129 links in BOTH of the “Download more sample links” and “Download latest links”. So, while 212,000 links is good–it’s very deceiving.