Google less stealthy? More link info for webmasters

You link, therefore I am.

Considering all the data that we share with Google, its nice that every now and then Google decides to share a little of it back. Today, Google opened up quite a bit more than they had done by sharing more complete information about external links that point at your website.

In order to access it, you need to partake in their Google Webmaster Central program. Of course, this is something you probably won’t want to do if you are playing games of hide-and-seek with Google, but if your site is on the level with the big “G” then it’s probably mostly harmless.

What you’ll find is a list of (some? all?) of your pages that have external links pointing to them. From there you can dig in and get a list of a significant portion of the pages that are linking to you. Alongside each link is the date of the last time a link was crawled.

Aaron Wall has a nice bulleted list with the potential fringe benefits of all this. One thing I’m thinking of doing to make this data a little easier for me to manage is to build a mini-application that can track these spreadsheets over time so that I can spot new links that are popping up and links that have disappeared.

Also, it’s going to be interesting to compare some of the link crawl dates to dates in the Google cache as well. From spot checking so far, this seems hit and miss. Sometimes it matches up and sometimes it doesn’t – as it looks so far, either the link data is either somewhat dated or the links are sometimes not crawled for white a long time after the page crawl.

Unfortunately, Google is still playing coy and not reporting all the links for fear that that provides too much knowledge into their algorithms.