| 4:01 pm on Dec 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
The results of the link: operator has changed over the years. It currently displays the number of high quality links that point to the URL you enter, but the pages shown are a sample from all of the links that point to the URL that Google has seen. You can't control it. You'll be better off relying on the links report in the Webmaster Tools console or use the link: operator in Yahoo!
| 11:25 pm on Dec 30, 2010 (gmt 0)|
google intentionally displays incomplete data for link: searches. they have done this for many years. since a real consumer will likely never search with link:, i do not worry about it.
| 6:34 am on Dec 31, 2010 (gmt 0)|
@rainborick, thats what I dont understand. How can one of the inner pages which is no different than other pages is considered to be high quality!
| 12:55 pm on Dec 31, 2010 (gmt 0)|
As I said, the pages shown in the results are a sample of all the link sources Google knows about, not the high quality link sources. This was changed several years ago to prevent people from discovering where competitor sites were getting their best links. It's very likely that none of the pages shown are a source of high quality links.
The only real information you can get from the link: operator is the count, and even that has very limited value. You could monitor changes in the count over time, but I can't think of any other reason to use it. Use the Webmaster Tools console or use the link: operator on Yahoo! if you want a more comprehensive list of the links to a URL.
| 4:17 pm on Dec 31, 2010 (gmt 0)|
Google shows historical data as well as current data to throw you off for the link: operator -- I'd look at open site explorer or the Yahoo! Site Explorer for a new, updated version of the list.
| 11:42 pm on Jan 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
About the site: operator I see that penalized pages are usually shown at the end of the results. If a page has any kind of problem, using the site: opererator + title of the page you'll find the page not where you expect (first places).
| 12:28 am on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
The results of the link: operator has changed over the years. It currently displays the number of high quality links that point to the URL you enter
I'm a bit puzzled by how this works. How does Google determine which backlinks are "high-quality"?
For example, can a nofollow backlink be high-quality?
Also, What if a page doesn't have any high-quality backlinks by Google's definition? Would the link operator return 0 results in this case?
| 2:15 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Originally, the link: operator in Google showed all links. Around 2003-2004, it changed to showing links from pages with significant PageRank scores - typically PR4 and above. A few years ago, following a discussion here about how the link: operator could be used to poach good link sources from other websites, they changed the command so that while the number of links reported is still calculated the same way, the pages they showed were no longer just the sources of those links. The programmer in me says it's likely that they now simply show the pages from the bottom of the list rather than the top, or an otherwise random sample, but who knows?
Can a nofollow link be high-quality? For the link: operator, the answer is probably yes, because nofollow links are included in Google's link database, which is why you can see such links in the Webmaster Tools console. The actual flow of PageRank gets blocked at a different level. If a page doesn't have any high-quality backlinks, the link: operator will show 0 results. That's very common.
Over time, as they had to recalibrate the Toolbar PageRank scale, it's possible that the threshold for counting a link for the link: operator has changed and that other factors are now involved as well. It seems to me that how this tool works hardly matters anymore. I don't see a lot of value in the information provided now. You get much better information on your own website from the Webmaster Tools console, and from Yahoo! for information about other sites.
| 4:14 pm on Jan 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
I think it's useful to know the number of links that Google considers to be high-quality, even though a different set of links is actually shown.
| 1:57 am on Jan 26, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Matt Cutts just posted a video answer to the question about the order of site: operator results.
How are site: results ranked? [youtube.com]
1. "We do use a few different factors."
2. "We do use some version, roughly, of PageRank, but it's not exactly in PageRank order."
3. "We also look a little bit at, for example, maybe, how short the URL is - and those tend to be URLs at the root pages or maybe one directory down."
4. "It's not the case that it's strictly in PageRank order, or anything like that at least the last time I checked."
5. "It's a relatively good proxy of the pages that might be kind of interesting, but I wouldn't treat it as a perfect list."