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WMT Reports More Links Than I Actually Have
JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 9:56 pm on Aug 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google Webmaster Tools is reporting that I have over 400,000 inbound backlinks, this is impossible! I actually have around 1600. I did a manual check on another search engine and used a couple of other popular tools and they all agree with my accessment of approximately 1600 (give or take a few) backlinks not 400k.

I have heard from a friend that same thing shows up in his link count in webmaster tools saying he has thousands more than he really does.

Is there a glitche with the Google webmaster tool?

First question is has anybody else in this forum experience inflated links counts within webmaster tools?

Also can this inadvertenly trigger a minus -60 Google Penalty based on what webmaster tool says and not what I actually have?

I ask because I suffered this penalty about a week back and I am trying to figure out what may have caused this?

 

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 12:41 am on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

This big data dump of links into WMT is pretty new - just a couple weeks or so. So there's a not a lot of history for us to draw on, but I haven't heard of any penalties or ranking losses.

I think it's just raw link data. It's a common spammer/scraper thing to dynamically change what links appear on pages - so sometimes googlebot sees links to your site that aren't there just a short while later.

rustybrick

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 11:30 am on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

How do you know how many links you have? I mean, there are lots of scrapper sites out there that Google may know about and have quicker access to index than the other tools out there?

JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:14 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi RustyBrick

That's a good point, however we checked Google WMT about 30 days ago and it said that we had 989 total inbound links. When I checked yesterday it said I had over 400,000 inbound links.

I have checked around on google groups and other google forums and there appears to be an epidemic of webmasters claiming inflated reporting using the WMT link report.

Speaking with a gentleman in a google forum he believes he suffered a Google penalty from these inflated reports, and this is the situation I am in too!

I am not saying this is the reason for our penalty but during the time we checked our links last month to today's link totals reported on WMT we were hit with a penalty. Coincidence, maybe but others have seen and experience the same results as I have.

What this tool is saying is that I have 250 times what I really have. When I check other well know manually tools they are in line with what I really have.

So I wonder how many people may have been affected by this in a negative way....meaning, rankings, traffic and penalty.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:19 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it's likely that the web is being continuously flooded by millions of these spammy links created by automated methods, often by scraping Google's own SERPs from random keyword searches. But the pages they are on appear to be ephemeral, and disappear after a short time.

JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:29 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it's likely that the web is being continuously flooded by millions of these spammy links created by automated methods, often by scraping Google's own SERPs from random keyword searches. But the pages they are on appear to be ephemeral, and disappear after a short time.


I thought of this too, but you are saying that if someone like a competitor scapes Google's own serp's via random keywords by some automated software, they now can take you down and damage your rankings and reputation by using spammy links pointed to your website.

Because its unclear where these links may have come from these links should be just discredited or devalued and not hurt or penalize the website that unknowingly received them.

Otherwise its becomes a competitor's war of spammy links. A revolving door of "King Of The Hill."

karter

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:51 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

i think gwmt link tool is now about as useful as the link:domain.com tool

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 3:14 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I thought of this too, but you are saying that if someone like a competitor scapes Google's own serp's via random keywords by some automated software, they now can take you down and damage your rankings and reputation by using spammy links pointed to your website.



If you will read my post, I didn't say anything about a competitor being able to use these links to bring down another site.

I think that Google is able to filter most of these links from the dataset that is fed into the algorithm, so that they have little if any effect on rankings.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 3:51 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's what I would assume: Those WMT links are newly reported, but they are NOT newly discovered. Google had that link data all along, but kept in their back end only.

It is quite possible that the ranking drop is not related to the links appearing. And although it's not impossible for a competitor to trash your rankings, it is quite rare.

Because its unclear where these links may have come from these links should be just discredited or devalued and not hurt or penalize the website that unknowingly received them.

Yes, exactly. That is the way things work "almost" all of the time. But if you feel, after some real due diligence, that your site is an exception and someone else has managed to trash it -- that's what the Reconsideration Request is for. And the more precisely you can document it for the Google team, the better.

If you do file a Reconsideration Request, check out this video [webmasterworld.com] first.

JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 5:18 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster you make a lot of sense. But that would not explain entirely why ALL my links all at the same time on Google drop on average 60 positions.

What I mean is yes it makes sense that rankings would drop if the links are not counted etc....but I think the drop would be more random by keyword phrase and its position rank and not a complete drop across the board 60 postions.

This looks more like a minus -60 Penalty by Google directly caused by this crazy WMT link count.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 5:50 pm on Aug 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

ALL my links all at the same time on Google drop on average 60 positions

All your URLs dropped an average of 60 positions (please don't use the word "links" in this way, it can confuse things.) - yes, that sounds like a penalty. But it's not because of ALL those newly reported backlinks, because most of them are not having any effect at all. If you are going to file an effective Reconsideration Request, you'll need to find at least some specific examples that may be contributing to the ranking problem.

I'd use one of the third party sources of backlink data that are available. If you're only using them for your own website, then the services are often free. Look for the most recently discovered backlinks and focus there to look for potential troublemakers.

And do stay open to the possibility that there may be another problem causing your ranking drops. But sure, dig into this area first.

rustybrick

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 2:24 am on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is Caffeine related, Google has gone on record saying the link increase (dramatic as it is) is due directly to their expanded and faster index (i.e. Caffeine).

JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:28 pm on Aug 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Would you guys know if this would have any affect on ranking shift in the Google index?

I know all sites have not been affected by the reports shown in WMT.

If backlinks are inflated for some sites would it move these sites that were affected by the WMT reports where it would give those sites an advantage and move them up in rankings?

Also if these WMT results are super-over inflated could it possible hurt your rankings and impose a penalty?

Could this happen?

Arizal



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 8:40 am on Aug 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have monitored the issue at WMT as well for several of my sites. There are basically just more links reported (or counted for the report), but no ranking changes involved.

Most of my sites now backlinks in the five to six figure range, but the samples provided do not show any new links.

It seems to me mainly an issue of duplicate content which creates those multiple links: main link giver for some of those sites are sites with about 800 unique pages, but due to their URL handling create up to 100k pages...

The funny thing is: before caffeine the link giver sites were indexed with up to 100k pages, now they are largely trimmed down to the unique core in the Google index. However, obviously, they started to show up in the WMT backlink report.

As I have several sites with such a link profile I am pretty sure that they are no ranking changes involved, due to the newly reported links.

However, there was the caffeine rollout, mayday, june 2nd (and the subsequent corrections of this take on microsites) what kept the SERPs pretty dynamic and has some repercussions until now.

That's my experience so far.

BradleyT

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 2:16 pm on Aug 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

IMO it's not helpful for the summary page to state "This page has 6,866 links" and then the detail page shows 5 links - with 5 being pretty close to accurate.

optimierung

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 11:08 am on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

We also see strange figures in the number of internal links reported for a website by WMT, e.g. 1295 links pointing to a web page but there are only 164 etc.

FranticFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 1:25 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yep, me too.

This table lists a sample of 16 external pages that link to www.example.com

Total links: 679


679 links from 16 pages?

steerpikegg

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 3:07 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Whilst we're on the subject of links showing up in webmaster tools, I have absolutely tons of links showing up in WMT since the last few weeks, all coming from .cc (china) domains with very long subdomain extensions eg redwidgetstuff123.morenonsenswnwegno3ne3c.co.cc and each one very different and to a different page on my site.

When I try to look at these pages, all they show is a 403 error, Forbidden.

Could this do any harm to my site do you think ? There's an awful lot of them.

BillyS

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 3:31 pm on Aug 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

JoeHouse - didn't you answer your own question?
Is there a glitche with the Google webmaster tool?

I have checked around on google groups and other google forums and there appears to be an epidemic of webmasters claiming inflated reporting using the WMT link report.

Or are you just taking the opportunity to take a shot at Google's free tool? Did you provide feedback to Google or are you just complaining here?

JoeHouse

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 2:32 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi BillyS

Well to be honest no, I really did not think to do that but I will do it today. I just have no idea where these links could be coming from. I am sure many of us here have a good handle on any SEO activity they are doing on their websits so to see backlinks on WMT go from 900 to over 400,000 is pretty eye popping.

I will take your advice and contact Google.

Thanks!

enigma1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 3:04 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you have the past few months server logs and a mechanism to filter out but the googlebot accesses is worth checking out.

I have seen the googlebot before, getting in, from messed up links posted externally (I assume), with something I personally would call, hack attempts or some sort of manipulation. It was reported then and closed pretty fast but I still see others posting about it in the same thread.

[google.com...]

So if indeed there are systematic ways to exploit the bot it could be one scenario that may explain the change.

What I never understood out of the SEs is why they index a link or report it in WMT, if they never accessed it or found/validated it inside the domain. Because that will avoid false positives. In other words if the link doesn't exist inside the domain with <a> tag then never index it.

Honestly I doubt you will find approx 400K requests from google inside your server logs. But you may find some strange ones which could force the bot to access pages in different ways I don't know.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 4:05 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

What I never understood out of the SEs is why they index a link or report it in WMT, if they never accessed it...

Good observation. Seems to indicate that Google has coded some kind of shortcut for these link counts - and that the shortcut may be buggy. Just guessing here, of course.

enigma1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 9:08 pm on Aug 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes and there is another one, IMO even more dangerous

[google.com...]
[google.com...]

Described in 2 linked threads.

In this case the WMT were reporting suspicious urls which clicking them would initiate a clickjacking of some sort. The disturbing part was that were clickable from inside the google account.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4182107 posted 5:43 pm on Sep 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

I uncovered something this week that explains at least some of the link excess reported in WMT lately. It seems that Google now dumps ALL their backlink data into your report - and that means of one of your backlinking sites has a duplicate URL problem that creates an infinite crawling space for googlebot, you may see every garbage URL variation Google crawled that had your link - at least until their crawl routine wised up for that particular domain.

Short and sweet version - googlebot was caught in a honeypot and you get to see the data.

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