The Google Webmaster Central team is doing a bang-up job of posting videos to their YouTube channel on a daily basis. Some are really, really helpful to webmasters and small business owners … others not as much.
One of the really, really helpful ones was just posted, and involves Matt Cutts answering a couple questions about the [link:] search operator. That’s the operator you use to check the backlinks of any domain.
Here are the primary takeaways from the video:
- Historically, Google has only shown a small percentage of the backlinks it knows about because they didn’t have the servers to show the full set.
- They have increased the amount of backlinks shown over time, but it’s still just a sample — a “relatively small percentage.”
- The [link:] operator only shows a random sample of links; it used to show only the highest-quality backlinks, but now it’s completely random.
- Google will show both high-quality and low-quality links via the public [link:] operator. It may include both followed and no-followed links. It may include links that do and don’t pass PageRank.
- They don’t show all the links because it might encourage someone to try to reverse engineer Google’s rankings, and/or allow them to spy on a competitor’s full set of backlinks.
- You can see “practically all” and a “vast majority” of the backlinks Google knows about your own site by registering with Google Webmaster Central.
I’ll put the full video below.