Google announced today that the link data within Google Webmaster Tools is much broader, more diverse cross-section of links.
What does that mean?
Well, instead of showing you links in alphabetical order, exported in “lexicographical order” – Google is now showing you sample links “uniformly from the full spectrum of backlinks rather than alphabetically.” Google says this means you links will be more diverse, showing you links from different top-level domains (TLDs) as well as from different domain names.
The max number of links Google will export from Google Webmaster Tools still is about 100,000 backlinks. That won’t change. What has changed is the types of links Google is showing you in that export.
Google says this will provide a “better overview of those links” enabling webmasters and SEOs to more easily “clean up any bad linking practices.”
Postscript: There’s an interview with Matt Cutts up now out of SES SF with more details about how the sampling works:
“We take our highest-quality links, the ones that are in our sort of base index, and we reserve like 70% of that for random links and then another 20 or 30% for random TLDs, random domain names, so you’re going to get a much better diversity of links”
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