Site Wide Links Count As One – Google The New SEO Tool?

Google have recently updated the way they show link data in webmaster tools.

Historically the link data they have shown has literally been a snap shot of links to any particular website, the information was pretty much useless to an SEO at any level.

However, Google have now decided to break down that link data in a logical way and early today the screen shot of your links will have been broken down into unique domains.

webmaster tools view

This is a little scary as I looked down some of my linking domains with 1 giving over 30000 thousand links, maybe this is Google’s way of saying ‘watch those site wides people’ πŸ™‚

The most intriguing thing about this change is when you look a little deeper at those site wide links you have, Google is even pointing out how many pages of your site this domain points to. High volumes of links to the exact same page easily highlight manipulation techniques and makes it easy for Google to devalue these links.

linking page count

Are these links from the same domain, pointing to only one page of your site being devalued? Is this Google’s way of telling us to cut down on site wide links?

It seems that WMT is becoming more and more insightful, with click through data, anchor text distribution and performance stats.

All these small improvements leave me wondering where Google are going with this, they have the data and ability to provide more SEO related information than any of the other SEO tools out there, does this mean the end of seo tool suites like SEOmoz??

As it stands the information is not quite accurate enough to replace any of the top tools, but maybe ‘watch this space’ is an appropriate phrase to use.

Just a short post but your thoughts are appreciated.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

34 thoughts on “Site Wide Links Count As One – Google The New SEO Tool?

  1. Interesting, I have not experimented much with Google Webmasters tools- maybe I should start. Hmm.. this will be a bummer for people who design website themes and distribute them in order to receive a few quality links.

  2. Hi Aaron,

    I think it will cause problems for any website relying on site wide exchanges or those benefiting from blogroll links, everyone has site wide links but if Google are counting them as one reference then in my mind that is definitely the right thing to do. The link graph is a referencing system, just because someone gives you a site wide link does not mean they want to reference you on every page of the website.

    For web designers who distribute or add their link to themes they have created will now have to do a little more work to rank as high.

  3. The linked page column simply counts the number of unique urls found in that domain.
    blogroll links are the same on each page so it is normal that they are counted as only one unique url (not link).

  4. Hi Azouz,

    In the past site wide links have passed more weight than a link from 1 page and Google has always shown the links from every page of the site never showing them as 1 linking page. Blogroll links historically have classed as thousand of page links and did help gain strong rankings, this no longer seems to be the case. Technically if you have a site wide you have a link on each page, however Google is clearly stating it will only be counted once.

  5. Hi Tim,

    Why do you think Google will count it only once?
    The Linked Page simply counts unique urls, so if I put two in-content links to your website from mine, this will be counted as two links but it will be displayed as only one Linked Page because I have used the same url in both links. Linked Pages refer to pages in your domain.

  6. Hi there. I interpreted the linked pages as the number of different URLs linked to on your site from that site. So sitewide links that only link to the homepage of your site would have a 1 in this column.

  7. I think unique domains and unique IP addresses play a huge part in the new algo changes. We have been trying to put together a link diagnosis tool that can do this outside of webmaster tools.. So you can get the same report for competitors.. (still in Beta so please be patient whilst it brings results back.)

  8. Does the age of the link comes into it?

    I can see the sense of Google marking down links in blogrolls that were put in by site owners years ago, that the site owner has more or less forgotten, and which are now just sitting there with no real relevance to what the site owner is doing with his site today.

  9. Hi David,

    Not sure about the age to be honest, at one point I thought it did but with Google putting a new emphasis on freshness I think fresh in content links are going to play a massive role in rankings moving forward.

  10. Hi Kerry,

    Your exactly right, I did this post late last night and got a little excited πŸ™‚

    I still think if there are thousands of links going to 1 page from 1 domain Google could view this as low value and quickly highlight site wide links. I guess the way Google is tweaking their WMT suite it makes you wonder how far they’re going to take it.

    I’ll update the post with the correct information, cheers.

  11. Thanks for that Sam, will check it out.

    Open site explorer does allow you to do a lot of this, however there is a certain sense of reassurance when the information comes from Google.

  12. Sorry Azouz,

    I wrote this post late last night and have mis read the information. I am going to up date the post with the correct information.


  13. That definitely makes the tool much more usable, whether or not this indicates a shift in Google’s ranking algorithm concerning links. I tend to agree that sitewides should count about the same as a regular old link.

  14. Hi Kyle,

    The idea that it means Google is switching up there ranking factors is a bit of a long shot, I just feel over the last few months Google is almost making it more and more easy for everyday webmasters to see what really works when it comes to rankings.

  15. Hi Mark,

    Possibly could be, but I know what you mean about time. Everyone is dropping rankings someone has to be there to clean it up πŸ˜‰

  16. I know sitewide links are “BAD” well you know what I mean. But what about all the wordpress themes with links in the footer. The developers deserve to have links that are not devalued….No?

  17. Hi Thomas,

    Good point, but think about it they have developed a theme but the links back are not natural, its almost like forcing people who use the themes to reference them. Google wants to see natural references where people have taken the time to link back to resource they have found useful, so from that perspective you can understand why they may devalue a link based on where it is.

  18. The change to Google Webmaster Tools is a welcome one, no question.

    This discussion about site wide links – especially those found in a footer and placed there by web designers and developers – is an interesting one and deserves a blog post all of its own!

    On a small site I think they are probably ok – but on a site with thousands of pages adn assuming the client agrees to it, would it make more sense to vary the anchor text and page linked to? This would take a bit longer to do, of course, but would guard against Google viewing it as just a little dodgy!

    What do you reckon?

  19. I think a site wide link from a smaller site (a site with less pages) is definitely a safer option and pointing multiple site wide links to multiple pages is definitely the technique to use, it actually works very well. I think in order to analyse whether or not your site wides are an issue or not is by looking at your profile as a whole, are 90% of your links from a hand full of domains? If they are and all targeting the same page with the same anchor text there could be issues.

    We have seen it a few times already this year and removing the links seems to resolve the issues excessive site wide links cause.

  20. Hi Mark,

    I definitely think that is a safer way to do things, also targeting some internal pages with site wide links tends to have a positive impact on overall rankings.

    I have to admit though, some recent behaviour on Google is making me a little nervous about site wide links, e.g. we have seen a couple of sites lose rankings based on a high amount of site wide links, we removed the site wide links and their straight back in at the top.

    In terms of this site I have had a bit of a clean up, still no real difference in terms of rankings or traffic πŸ™‚ Still better to be safe.

  21. So, what happens if the homepage is PR3 and a deeplink is PR5. Does the sitewide link count as a single PR3 or a single PR5?

    Once you ask these sorts of questions, it becomes obvious that sitewide links do hold more weight than single links.

  22. I don’t subscribe to the idea of link juice solely been subject to link metrics, I think Google is more than capable of understanding when an external link is site wide and devaluing all links from this domain on that basis, otherwise Google would be way to easy to game.

    I also work with hundreds of websites all with different link building strategies and can tell you confidently that a fresh new post on a decent domain is far more powerful than a site wide. When valuing links there are far more metrics in play other than the PR of a page.

    That’s what I’ve experienced anyway.

  23. Hi,

    I have two questions for you.

    1)My site has a sitewide link from Site A. GWT shows 450+ links just from this Site A. But when i searched google with strings like links and site, it has shown only 4 links. So which one should I take seriously? 450 0r 4?

    2)I tried contatcting the admin of Site A. No response. What should I do now to remove the links? FYI, Site A is built in WP.

  24. Hi Karthic,

    I would always trust WMT, Google won’t want to index all of the links but that doesn’t mean they don’t know about and count them.

    Have you tried contacting the host of the website? Can you find any details for Twitter? If your site has been hit and it’s proving impossible to get in touch, then make sure you inform Google in a reconsideration.

    If you have been affected by penguin or another algorithm update, you need to focus on building quality links and removing as many of the low quality ones as possible, if this one is possible, pick through the rest of your profile. It’s all about addressing the balance of low quality/aggressive anchor text vs high quality/natural anchor text.

  25. So Karthic, is the problem that you have a sitewide link from the Blogroll from this site? Previous to Penguin, that would have been considered a compliment, not a problem! Now it only constitutes a problem if the link in anchor text rather than your company name and you are actually suffering as a result.

  26. Hi Tim,

    Sorry for wrongly mentioning your name in my last message. Thanks for that link, I’ve contacted them and got back a reply asking me to send a mail to Let’s expect some action from them. Thanks again, Tim!

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