I used to Love your webmaster tools. You have lots of great features, like site map configuration, crawler diagnostics and top search queries and positions. But why must you tease us by pretending to report on incoming links?
Sure, you call it a “sampling” and carefully word your descriptions with phrases like “links we have available to show you.”
If “Links to your site” is a sampling, and the basis isn’t known or consistent, then what is the intended use of the report?
Case in point: Throughout 2009, Webmaster tools reports that one stable and quiet site (read not many new links) consistently remained at ~350 links give or take a few. Then Webmaster tools reports only 90 incoming links throughout the month of May. This is less than the 119 reported with your very own link: operator.
Then, last week, you report 600 links. All of which have been there for quite some time. From 350 to 90 to 600?
How is this useful? It isn’t. If your sampling varies widely with no consistent basis, then it is not useful for trending.
So I hate it.
While a tool link LinkScape or Yahoo! Site Explorer may not see all the links that Google sees, at least they have a consistent basis for detection and reporting. And that is the necessary foundation for relying on a report for decision making.
So Google, thank you for webmaster tools. Some parts are useful. Stop pretending to report on incoming links and use a consistent sampling method for reporting.
Your captive user,
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