How to Count Backlinks

For the past couple of years I’ve been farming out link-building work for my clients, to several companies that have specialized in article marketing.

Is Article Marketing for Link-Building Dead?

However, the recent Panda updates seem to have resulted in the de-indexing of the majority of all the article marketing links, as far as Google is concerned. I’m about 95% certain that that’s true.

There seems to be little point in continuing with article marketing, if the links within those articles are not being counted.

If it is true, I can’t really blame Google for de-indexing the article marketing links. They were basically paid (or unpaid) link generating schemes, being done almost entirely for the purpose of increasing the number of links Google counted, for the purpose of getting more Google PageRank and higher rankings in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

In other words, article marketing was being used to “game the system” – something Google obviously doesn’t want.

We’ve been trying to monitor the number of links that are being counted by Google (the only links that matter for the purposes of link-building!) on behalf of our clients, and we’re getting wildly different numbers from one week to the next, and different numbers depending on which source of backlink statistics we check.

How to Count Backlinks?

  1. Google: using the “link:site.com” command. This tool, which has been broken at Google for 3 or 4 years now, gives a ridiculously low number of links.

    For the purpose of proving that last statement, search at Google for:

    link:www.jmblog.com

    and that tool shows that there are only 4 links to the site you’re reading now, www.jmblog.com.

    Search at Google for:

    link:www.wordsinarow.com

    (that’s my business site) and it shows that there are only 7 links, even though that site has been around for 12 years and has over ten thousand links to it, which have been gradually added and are “natural” links, not obtained through any linking scheme.

  2. Google: using the command “www.site.com -site:www.site.com”, like this:

    search Google for: “www.jmblog.com” -site:www.jmblog.com

    That parcitular search command will search for all instances of www.jmblog.com found on other websites, minus any pages from www.jmblog.com itself.

    Doing that search today, Google claims there are 13,900 results — those are mentions of and links to www.jmblog.com from other websites.

    (Note: I have never done any link-building for www.jmblog.com. Those are all “natural” links, just the way Google wants them.)

    Do the same Google search for: “www.wordsinarow.com” -site:www.wordsinarow.com

    and at the top of the first page of search results, Google says there are 33,500 results. But if you click to page 10 of the search results, Google says there are 83,300 results.

    Which number should one believe?

  3. Google Webmaster Zone. You will get a different number from there, and it is typically several months out of date. Google will list out a finite number of links for you.
  4. Bing Webmaster area. Similar to the Google Webmaster Zone. You’ll get a different number of Backlinks from Bing than you get from Google.
  5. SEOMOZ: Open Site Explorer:

    Here’s the link to click to check backlinks at SEOMOZ:

    Words in a Row Backlinks at SEOMOZ
    (this currently shows 313 links for www.wordsinarow.com, which is rather on the low side compared to the data reported by Google.)

    and JMBlog.com backlinks at SEOMOZ
    (This currently shows only 233 links – also rather low.)

So, depending on which tool you use to count them, the number of links to this site (www.jmblog.com) is somewhere between 4 and 13,900. (It’s kind of funny, but not in a good way.)

The number to which I’m paying the most attention, and graphing, and monitoring regularly, is the one I get from doing this search at Google:

search Google for: “www.jmblog.com” -site:www.jmblog.com

But lately with all the Panda updates, that number has really jumped around for some of my clients; one client’s backlinks plummeted from 55,000 to 15,000 over the course of the last month.

If one assumes that Google has de-indexed the links from the article marketing sites, then those drops in the statistics, although painful, start to make sense

See this page from Google Webmaster Central:

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=0ee276cbb4c93397&hl=en

Specifically, this answer from Google, where one webmaster wonders why his reported links have dropped from 19500 to 4000.
———

Could be a couple of things.

Firstly, lets start with the number of links. Obviously if someone creates a link to your site, they can also delete it. So that’s one possibility. But you have a large number of links gone all of a sudden, so to me that would suggest one of two possibilities – You had a large number of links coming from one (or a small number) of domains and this/these domains have either: 1. not paid their domain name registration fee and thus have dropped off the internet, thus you links no longer physically exist online…

or 2. Google has ‘de-indexed’ this/these domain/s for their index (could be for any number of reasons) and thus Google is not counting these backlinks anymore even though the sites physically exist in cyberspace.

(emphasis added.)

2 Responses to How to Count Backlinks

  1. Sonia July 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    very helpful article on back links count, especially for webmasters. thanks

  2. Pro Igrac July 31, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Thank you, this made my search easier!

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