Based on feedback from the webmaster community, Google has made some changes to their free Webmaster Tools product that they announced today.
Webmaster Tools provides roughly 100,000 backlinks to users when they click on the ‘download more sample links’ button, which had previously been arranged in lexicographical order.
That meant that for some sites, webmasters didn’t get a complete picture of their site’s backlinks because the data was skewed alphabetically.
With these improvements made to Webmaster Tools, backlinks are now sampled uniformly from the full spectrum of backlinks, rather than alphabetically. Google says you’re also more likely to get example links from different top-level domains as well as from different domain names.
Going forward when you download your data you will notice a more broad, more diverse cross-section of links. Webmasters looking for information about where people are referred to their site from will have a better overview of those links.
Webmasters can also use this information to clean up any bad linking practices since it is now easier to see where to spend time and effort.