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Does Google Only Credit Backlinks Returned By The Link: Command?

By Snap Agency August 24, 2013

The short answer is ‘no’. Now, let me tell you why.

If you’ve read Google’s canned description of the the link: search command, then you’ve seen that it’s purpose is to return “all the pages” that link to a particular URL. If you then did a link: search for a particular web page and you didn’t see the reputable sites that you know to be linking to that page, then you might have gone into a slight panic. But don’t worry, this command only returns a fraction of the of links pointing to a web page.

Does Google only credit the few backlinks show by the link: command? No. In fact, Google recognizes the limitations the link: search operator in that it will only “list a selection of the web pages that have links pointing to the [searched URL].” To see a much larger sampling of links, Google recommends using the Links to Your Site page in Webmaster Tools.

Why does Google have a search operator that doesn’t deliver accurate results? Limited server space. In a YouTube video, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, explains:

…historically, we only had room for a very small percentage of backlinks because web search was the main part and we didn’t have a ton of servers for link colon queries…

In the same video, Cutts was asked directly if backlinks from reputable sites that DO NOT show up in a link: search receive any credit from Google. He explained:

So, just because you don’t see one particular link in link:, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t or does flow reputation, PageRank, whatever you want to refer to it as.

Cutts closes the video by encouraging webmasters to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools for more of a complete picture of their backlink profile. View the full video here below.

Webmasters can rest easy knowing that Google gives credit to many more backlinks than those returned by the link: command.