The Google Backlink Dance Resumes

    September 1, 2004

Yesterday, August 31, 2004, Google ran their backlink “update”. This is the process of simply showing the amount of backlinks that are pointing to your site. This search is easily conducted by typing “” into Google’s search box. The search results show a sampling of these links. Typically, when Google performs such an action, the search engine forums are lit-up like Christmas trees with people reporting their results of the “update.”

Google's Backlink Update Ride Continues
Google’s Backlink Update Ride Continues

First off, the understanding that this is not an actual update is good to have. This point was made clearly by a discussion that occurred in WebProWorld. cbp, a moderator of the search engine section, said, “There is no such thing as a backlink update – it is just a change in the composition of the sites that Google chooses to show in the sample for a page – it is meaningless.”

This response was greeted with a question, which asked, if this wasn’t an update, then why could they see more links when they queried their site. cbp replied that Google was allowing you to see more links pointing to the individual’s site. In other words, they were updating the results. This point was reinforced by jestep, another WPW mod, who said:

“I have to agree with CBP about the backlinks. Google already accounted for them a long time ago, and now they are just changing the results that they are letting you see. It seems to me that the backlinks are now updated continuously. The results that are shown are updated every 4 – 6 weeks.”

Even rustybrick, who first mentioned the story on SERoundtable, had a witty response concerning the backlink update: “Here we go again, but the importance becomes less and less every month. :)” So, instead of calling it a backlink update, perhaps it should be called the Google backlink result update.

Even though Google seems to acknowledge new links very quickly, they appear to only update the results periodically. When this happens, it’s interesting to read people’s responses after seeing their hard work rewarded or penalized; whatever the case maybe.

WebProWorld was not the only search engine forum to be littered with good discussions about the update. In Digital Point’s thread about the update, poster msadd was the most ecstatic. The new results showed a massive improvement in the amount of backlinks pointing to poster msadd’s site, who said, “Oh Yes! I got a 100% increase in backlinks! I love Google!” This type of post was consistent with others who discovered their backlinks were now showing up in Google. A number of users wondered if a PageRank update was soon to follow, or occurring while the BL update was running.

Judging from the responses I’ve read, PageRank was not updated, although some did report PR shifts, especially from the Google directory. Although, at Digital Point, a poster named Weirfire responded with some thoughts about Google’s green bar:

“As people have said before though the only advantage of the PR update is so you can advertise the fact you have a PR of whatever. It makes no difference to the SERPs as they are updated all the time.”

Unfortunately, there are two sides to Google’s update. randfish, a poster at SEOChat told this story, which clearly demonstrated both the good and the bad of the backlink result update:


My stupid blog went to 76 backlinks, I haven’t even tried to optimize for it. The site I work on 16 hours out of every day went to only 61, and even though the PR went from 4 to 6 (according to the GG directory), I dropped from position 65 to position 127.

I think I’m going to self-destruct. I cannot believe that all that work was for nothing. The sites in front of mine include over 40 results where the only mention of the keyword phrase is the link text to my site. Way to go GG, very relevant results [you’ve got] there.

Please shoot me now.”

rand was not the only one to have these types of results after the update. Hopefully, Google received the efforts you’ve made to improve the backlinks with more success. Alas, it appears that this is the life when you are dealing with SEO.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.