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How does Google count backlinks?
How does Google count backlinks?
Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 3:45 am on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I am relatively new to all this so excuse me if I am posting this in the wrong place.

In June, 2003, I did a link: search on Google to see how many web sites were linking to the site of a non profit org I help out.

Google returned 56 links.

I then did a search for the URL of the organization's web site and got a list of over 300 pages.

I then made up a link page for their web site (they did not have one before) and waited for the bot to spider it.

The link page contained over 300 links, all on topic. None of them required a link in return for linking to this organization. All of them are active.

A new link: search on Google returned 23 links.

I read a FAQ on Google, that link pages should not contain more than 100 links, so I split the links onto four pages, with 90 or less links on each page, and again waited for the bot to spider them.

After all these months, the link: search on Google still returns just 23 links.

The number of links on other search engines went up:

Yahoo 179
Google 23
MSN 69
Altavista 136
Lycos/AllTheWeb 297

but not on Google.

Most of the web site's pages show up in the top 5 to 20 hits in searches on Google for their keywords, so I do not know if I should care.

The Google robot visits the site 2 or 3 times a day, but rarely goes past the index page.

Just to complicate matters, I use a Mac, and do not have access to a PC, so the toolbar is not available to me.

Any ideas about what is going on?

Thank you,

 

Web Footed Newbie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 11:50 am on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Harris!

Google only shows backlinks for sites that are PR4 or higher. My June backlinks were higher also.

Two things:
1) Google has not updated backlinks in a while, in my opinion - because I know how many backlinks I do have with PR4 and higher since June.
2) Maybe the other sites PR went below PR4, where they would not show on Google backlinks.

As for the Googlebot not going past your index page, add a sitemap to your website, and a direct link to it from your index page - that way all your pages can at least be looked at by Google.

As far as number of links per page, I try to keep mine below 20. I do this because of what I read here at WW, but I do not recall who wrote it.

Hope that helps, WFN :)

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 7:01 pm on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you.

It seems strange that only 23 out of over 300 sites would have a pr4 or greater. Especially since many are major sites in the field. But as I wrote, I use a Mac, and without access to the toolbar I can't check.

Blatant discrimination on Google's part. ;-)

The site does have a site map page, but it has a meta noindex, follow on it. I know it is not supposed to stop the robot, but sometimes things do not work the way they are supposed to. Does the noindex also stop the bot from following the links on the page?

The content on the index page and more than 20 internal pages updates several times a week, but the bot continues to only look at the index page, 2 to 3 times a day.

The updated index page shows up on Google within 24 hours.

I have checked the HTML on all the pages. All validate. None of them use gimmicks that might offend THE GREAT GOOGLE GODS.

The robot.tex file also validates. Although I did find out that the online validaters do not like text files without the line return character that PCs produce, and Macs do not. So I made sure the file has them and it also validates.

I guess all I can do is sit back and let it be.

Thank you,
Harris

DerekH

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 10:57 pm on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Harris wrote
>>It seems strange that only 23 out of over 300 sites would have a pr4 or greater. Especially since many are major sites in the field. But as I wrote, I use a Mac, and without access to the toolbar I can't check. <<

It's not as surprising as it sounds... it's pages not sites that have PR, and though the home page of a site may well be PR5+, it doesn't take much for a links page that is one or two clicks away to fall below PR4.

One of my sites is designed to have a low PR links page. The home page has a link to a "Other sites" page. That link is shared with 12 others, so already the PR is a bit watery...
The "Other sites" page has links to several pages on my site as well as to sub-pages with the links on. PR is diluted again.

I also use a Mac, and in fact the freedom from this fetish about PR is rather pleasant - it's just one of 100 factors that matter when getting a good SERPS position, and it's rather fun to guess what the other 99 might be!

But no, I'm not surprised that a major site has a links out page with a small PR - that's part of what some people think is important, and it's certainly not difficult to arrange. Basically, if the *shortest* route from the home page to the links pages is more than one mouse click, Google will be diluting its PR for each additional step needed to find that page.

DerekH

DerekH

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 10:58 pm on Oct 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

oops.
AND....
Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Harris!
DerekH

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 9:57 am on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can't rely on backlinks displayed by Google. They are counted, though (which always could take a while). Use AlltheWeb as an alternative for displaying them (but then keep in mind that they are not NECESSARILY counted by Google).

What I don't understand: You have 300 pages linking to your non-profit site, what reason for have you built a links page? To link the other pages back?

And why are you expecting to see more backlinks for your non-profit domain if you setup a link page?

I'm puzzled, maybe you could explain your reasoning.

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 10:01 am on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

One more thought: The real problem with Google's backlinks is that some are counted but not shown while others are shown but not counted :)

seo_sherpa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 1:19 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

you can check the check the overall linking with www.marketleap.com. One of the beeter link counting tools.

WebmasterFisherman



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 2:50 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

The real problem with Google's backlinks is that some are counted but not shown while others are shown but not counted :)

Is there any chance to know WHICH exactly links are counted and which are not? Any google operators?

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 3:02 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is there any chance to know WHICH exactly links are counted and which are not? Any google operators?

No. AlltheWeb comes maybe close, but you can never tell if GOOGLE actually counts the links AlltheWeb.

And marketleap.com doesn't know more than you do in terms of Google backlinks.

Why do you want to know anyway? The only important thing in SEO is ranking for keywords, and this is something you can see very easily. If your position for keyword1 is still at the very bottom, Google has not yet taken that new link into account.

WebmasterFisherman



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 3:40 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

You won't believe how it pisses me off, dirkz :(((
In marketleap or sitescreamer I get 20 links.
I get twice as many links when doing search: www.mysite.com inanchor:blue widgets -site:www.mysite.com.

These are almost all PR4+ sites and the links don't have any cgi redirects or anything - quite clean linkage. Plus I get some more new links "officially" recognized by Google doing inanchor search for "other widgets":)

Doing link:www.mysite.com gives twice as little links some of them being not so clean. My PR has remained static for 4 months already:(

Looks like google is playing some "adwords or death" games with us :(((

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 3:56 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterFisherman, sorry I forgot: Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

My PR has remained static for 4 months already:(

PR is rather irrelevant. Believe it or not, you can be Top 10 for competitive keywords with a PR3. It all comes down to anchor text.

Don't count your backlinks, it's a waste of time. Instead, focus on getting new ones with good anchor text (that's they key). Or attack new keywords with new content.

WebmasterFisherman



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 4:09 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

PR is rather irrelevant

Quite controversial to 99% of what I read here before...
You serious?

So which matters more for serps for my focus keyword - a link from a PR3 site but with "dumb" anchor text - in those days I just pasted my company's name into it - or a proper anchor text link from a lower PR site (even PR0)?
I have oodles of new links with proper anchor text but all of them are from PR3- sites as I couldn't offer reciprocal linking and didn't have the budget to buy links on "big" sites.

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 4:37 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

You serious?

I'm not kidding with the PR3 example I mentioned. You will come across several webmasters here who think the same.

<added>just a square bracket</added>

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 6:28 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you all for the welcome and feedback.

> What I don't understand: You have 300 pages linking
> to your non-profit site, what reason for have you
> built a links page? To link the other pages back?
>
> And why are you expecting to see more backlinks for
> your non-profit domain if you setup a link page?
>
> I'm puzzled, maybe you could explain your reasoning.

I created the link page just so that robots, especially Google's, would be able to see and count the backlinks.

I was surprised when Google showed only 56 and then 23 backlinks. I though that if they could see them on the site, they would count them.

> Why do you want to know anyway? The only important
> thing in SEO is ranking for keywords, and this is
> something you can see very easily. If your position
> for keyword1 is still at the very bottom, Google
> has not yet taken that new link into account.

Even though most of their pages show up in the top 20 for their keywords, often top 5, traffic is relatively low. I was hoping that more links counted would result in more traffic.

They are there to help people. They can only do this if people can find them, and come to their web site.

Their search engine results for September were:

Rank Search Server(s) Accesses %
1 Google 242 53.66
2 Yahoo 106 23.50
3 AOL NetFind 41 9.09
4 MSN 31 6.87
5 Ask Jeeves 21 4.66
6 Altavista 3 0.67
7 LookSmart 3 0.67
8 Direct Hit 2 0.44
9 iWon 2 0.44

Since Yahoo, AOL and even iWon are returning Google results, Google is responsible for almost 87% of their search engine hits.

(By the way, how do you create those nice boxes for quotes?)

Is there any negative to setting up the link pages? None of the linked sites required a backlink in exchange.

Thank you,
Harris

dougmcc1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 8:32 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

I did a link: search on Google ... Google returned 56 links.
A new link: search on Google returned 23 links.

So you dropped 33 links. This could be due to a number of things, probably beyond your control. Or maybe one of those sites are penalized and by linking back to that particular site, yours got penalized as well.

toolbar is not available to me.

Use the Google directory if the organization's site is listed in it.

I created the link page just so that robots, especially Google's, would be able to see and count the backlinks.

Hehe don't worry about that, Google will count the links on their own. This would only work if none of those sites were spidered by Google before and didn't know they existed. But you don't need to worry about it because Googlebot will find those sites eventually on it's own and the links will be factored in. I imagine most, if not all of them, are already factored in anyways. So I would remove those links pages. They're probably doing you more harm than good.

In summary:
Any ideas about what is going on?

Google is showing 33 less backlinks. No big deal.

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 11:47 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Go ahead, rub it in! You can do quote boxes inside a quote box, and I can't even do one! ;-)

Someone please tell me how to do it!

> So I would remove those links pages. They're
> probably doing you more harm than good.

How are doing harm? If this is correct I will remove them at once!

> Google is showing 33 less backlinks. No big deal.

I thought that they were showing over 250 less backlinks, many that I could not find in their listing, and that this was a big deal.

> Use the Google directory if the organization's
> site is listed in it.

The directory has this organization listed #12.

Its bar is about 1/3 green. It follows 7 sites whose bars are about 1/2 green, and four whose bars are also about 1/3 green. It is then followed by another 13 sites whose bars are about 1/3 green, and then 8 sites that do not have a bar.

How this translates into numbers, I do not know. The directory also will not show a bar for individual pages, only for sites.

Again, I am forced to ask: "What does this all mean?"

Thank you,
Harris

Tomas

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 11:54 pm on Oct 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

Go ahead, rub it in! You can do quote boxes inside a quote box, and I can't even do one! ;-)

Someone please tell me how to do it!

You should find the answer here: [typodermic.com...]

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 8:05 am on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Tomas, you should remove the link. I don't think it's appropriate, violating the TOS.

There is a link to the left if you post, called style codes. There you can read how to quote.

I created the link page just so that robots, especially Google's, would be able to see and count the backlinks.

So you wanted the linking pages to be indexed. Before doing this, I would have checked whether they are already in the index. Search for "site:test.tld -qertz". This way you can be sure about the situation as it is now.

Even though most of their pages show up in the top 20 for their keywords, often top 5, traffic is relatively low.

If your traffic is low then maybe your keywords are just not what people search for, independent from how many links are counted. On the other hand it could be that searchers are quite satisfied with the #1 spot or #2, providing them with all information. In this case your aim should be to get #1 with your most important keywords. And yes, you can do this by getting links.

I understand now your strategy, thanks for the clarification. You are getting the linking pages indexed and giving them a PR boost, getting it back by the backlink. Nice move.

But especially if the linking pages are not yet indexed, it could take more than 8 weeks (rough guess) to have results on your position.

dougmcc1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 1:58 pm on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

I thought that they were showing over 250 less backlinks

You said it yourself:
I did a link: search on Google ... Google returned 56 links.
A new link: search on Google returned 23 links.

Sorry, had to rub it in again ;) Just kidding. Did you find it in the style codes page? I don't see that link on the left anymore.

How are [links] doing harm?

Because instead of getting one-way links, you're now getting reciprocal links. I'll save the benefits of one-way links over reciprocal links for another thread, and I already gave you one example anyhow.

How this translates into numbers, I do not know

The highest possible PR is 10. So 1/3 means a PR of 3.

You are getting the linking pages indexed and giving them a PR boost, getting it back by the backlink.

How much you're getting back is the question. Are you getting back enough to make it worth it? Are you even getting back the same amount? And forget about the PR, how many visitors are you losing?

Again, I am forced to ask: "What does this all mean?"

Maybe you need to read around here a little more to get a sufficient answer to that. The site search tool is very handy (perhaps you could start with looking up the benefits of one-way links over reciprocals). Anyhow, I think we answered your initial question of "Any ideas about what is going on?".

So again in summary:

Since the site in question has PageRank and is still showing backlinks, it doesn't seem like the site is penalized. The changes you describe occur frequently in the SE world and I don't see room for concern (I assume that is the reason for your initial post).

Tomas

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 5:42 pm on Oct 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

Tomas, you should remove the link. I don't think it's appropriate, violating the TOS.

Sorry my mistake, I wanted to paste this link: [webmasterworld.com...]

I would like to remove it, but I can't access that post anymore.

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 12:59 am on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you dirkz! I found out how to quote!

So you wanted the linking pages to be indexed. Before doing this, I would have checked whether they are already in the index.

I did check, and most of them were not in Google. I found them by searching the site's logs, and doing a link: search on other search engines.

I will search for them again, as soon as I have the time, to see if they were indexed by Google. I wish the toolbar worked on the Mac, so I could see what their pr is.

But especially if the linking pages are not yet indexed, it could take more than 8 weeks (rough guess) to have results on your position.

These links were first crawled by the robot in June. Far more than 8 weeks have passed and there is no change.

If your traffic is low then maybe your keywords are just not what people search for, independent from how many links are counted.

I used wordtracker to research the keywords. I originally had 20 major keywords and combinations in the meta keyword content.

However, they were basically ignored. I then created 20 pages optimized for each of these keywords. These are the pages that show up in the top 20, and often in the top 5.

The number of results returned range from a few hundred to 3 million. Most return between 100,000 and 200,000.

The highest possible PR is 10. So 1/3 means a PR of 3.

I can be quite compulsive at times. I took a screen shot of the bar in the directory (quite easy to do on a Mac). I put it into a graphics program and laid a grid over it. The site's pr is 4.2 or 4.3.

How much you're getting back is the question. Are you getting back enough to make it worth it? Are you even getting back the same amount? And forget about the PR, how many visitors are you losing?

I don't seem to be loosing any visitors. The link page is three levels in. (site.org/optimized_page.html/links_page.htm)

All the links on the links_page open a new window.

As far as I can tell from the logs, not one visitor has ever gone to the links_page.

The changes you describe occur frequently in the SE world and I don't see room for concern (I assume that is the reason for your initial post).

So what I am getting from all this is that the drop from 56 backlinks to 23 probably had nothing to do with my adding the links page.

The links that I have on the link page probably don't count because their pr is too low.

I may even be doing more harm than good, because one-way links may be better than reciprocal links.

"And a partridge in a pear tree..."

I trust that other people are finding this as confusing, frustrating, and crazy as I am.

Please let me know if I have missed anything.

Thank you,
Harris

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 3:44 am on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK all, now I am angry!

I just went to the Google directory page.

The two top sites have a pr of 5.4 ( I did my graphics program trick again)

I then did a link: search for each URL

The number one site has 36 backlinks listed

The number two site has 32.

Our site still has 23.

However, here is where I get angry. Fully 17 of the top site's backlinks are from pages on their own site!

The number two site has 21 of their 32 backlinks from pages on their own site!

Does this mean that I can put links to our index page on all 400 pages of our site, index them, and have the pr go through the roof?

Something has got to be wrong here, or is this backlink nonsense even crazier than I've thought it is?

Thank you,
Harris

dougmcc1

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 5:11 am on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let me point you back to message #6 of this thread where dirkz said:
"You can't rely on backlinks displayed by Google".

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 6:55 am on Oct 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

Harris, your strategy seems to be very indirect.

As far as I can tell from the logs, not one visitor has ever gone to the links_page.

Have you checked for Googlebot crawling it?

The eight weeks I mentioned are the optimum, it could easily take much longer.

Have you checked for the links to your site being "real" links, no JavaScript and stuff?

The number two site has 21 of their 32 backlinks from pages on their own site!

In the original outline of Google's ranking algorithm there is absolutely no differentiation between links from "own" pages or from "other" pages.

That's also one of the reason you could add pages to your site like crazy in order to improve your ranking.

I wish the toolbar worked on the Mac, so I could see what their pr is.

As I said, PR is probably very overestimated. There are many people (also in the Supporters' Forum) who can state this from experience. What's counting is good anchor text in the links to you.

Go get yourself lots of links with decent anchor text, then you do not have to worry anymore about Google showing backlinks or not.

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 5:02 am on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't know if anyone is still looking at this discussion, but I thought I would update it anyway.

Google just updated the link: search for our site.

The number of links has again gone down, from 23 to 16.

So, since I added the links pages to the site, the number of backlinks Google lists has gone down from 56, to 23, and now to 16.

Our link pages have over 300 links on them.

The number of links listed on other search engines has gone way up. Hundreds of these additional links are now counted on ATW, AV, MSN, etc.

One third less are counted on Google!

What is going on!

Should I remove the links pages? Are they hurting me with Google?

Does 16 links on Google, result in a lower pr than 56 links.

Our pages are still in the top 20, often top 5 to 10, for most of our keywords.

All the links on these pages were one way into the site. None of them required a link back from us.

I only added the link back to these sites so they would be indexed by Google, and so Google would see that so many sites, in our field, thought we worth linking to.

Many of these sites were not in Google, but are now.

Thank you for any clarity you can add to this very cloudy subject.

Harris

steveb

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 5:56 am on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

You are talking about unrelated things. A links page on your domain has zero to do with what backlinks show to your main page. Also, you don't mention the PR of the pages that link to you. Without knowing that there is nothing to talk about as links below PR4 are only rarely/occasionally shown.

And "Many of these sites were not in Google, but are now" don't draw conclusions based on newly indexed pages/sites.

Harris

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 8:07 am on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

You are talking about unrelated things. A links page on your domain has zero to do with what backlinks show to your main page.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

We have over 300 backlinks to our site. All relevant. All active.

In June, Google only listed 56 backlinks. Searching Google for the sites that I knew had links to us, showed that the vast majority were not in the Googly database.

By creating link pages, and waiting for the robot to spider them, I was hoping that Google would add them to its index, see the link to our site, and give us credit for all these extra links.

Instead, with each update, our links have gone down, from 56 to 23, and now to 16.

Creating the link pages has increased the links displayed in all the other search engines I have checked. In several cases, over 200 links have been added to the results shown in each of them.

For example, ATW went from 62 to 298 links.

However, the number of links in Google has gone down.

Also, you don't mention the PR of the pages that link to you. Without knowing that there is nothing to talk about as links below PR4 are only rarely/occasionally shown.

I have a Mac, so I can't find out the pr for most of these sites. However, many of them are major sites in the field. They rank high in the SEPRs.

I find it very strange (but I guess not impossible) that only 16 of them have pr4 or greater.

By the way, since none of the sites originally listed in link: search had removed the link to our site, I find it even stranger that the pr of so many relevant, popular sites, suddenly fell below pr4.

And "Many of these sites were not in Google, but are now" don't draw conclusions based on newly indexed pages/sites.

Google spidered our link pages in June. Most of these sites were in the index by July and August.
 
I am really concerned that my effort to make things better, has somehow made things worse.

Thank you,
Harris

dirkz

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 8:48 am on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

that the vast majority were not in the Googly database

I find it very strange (but I guess not impossible) that only 16 of them have pr4 or greater

This seems to be contradictional in a sense. If the vast majority was not already indexed then it should be likely that the ones already contained in the index have not very high PR. I don't know your industry, there ARE industries where the really big players have only PR5.

birdstuff

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 17727 posted 10:59 am on Oct 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

The Google link command simply won't do much for you. My site has almost 10,000 backlinks listed on Alltheweb but less than 200 on Google.

I did discover from another thread that if I use the link command with a space after the : the number of backlinks returned doubles, even showing links from pages with PR as low as 1. But this is still a tiny fraction of my total backlinks.

example:

link: www.yoursite.com

instead of

link:www.yoursite.com

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