Google Reorganizes Internal vs. External Backlinks

September 8, 2011 | By

Google recently announced a change to how links are categorized in your Webmaster Tools. You may be familiar with how link data is categorized into two categories: links coming from other sites (external links) and links from within your site (internal links). Google says, “the update aims to better categorize these links in a way that more closely aligns with your idea of which links are actually from your site vs. from other sites.”

In Webmaster Tools, you can manage different types of sites:

Before this update, only links that started with the exact URL of your site would be categorized as an internal link. Google acknowledges that most people consider and as the same site these days, with or without the “dubdubdub” (aka www). So as Google loves to do, they are adapting to this change. If you add either the or URL versions as your site, links from both the www and non-www versions will correctly count as internal links. Subdomains will now also be included as internal links.

In their blog post, Google included this nifty table to further explain the changes being made to internal vs. external backlink organization in Webmaster Tools:

So what does this mean for you?

When you cross-link subdomains they will be considered as internal links and not as external links or inbound links. Keep in mind, the number of internal links pointing to a page tells search engines how important a specific page is.

Also, inbound links refer to external links or links that come from other sites.  They  have more clout because other people are linking to you. So let’s say someone is cross-linking to your sub domain URL, (, your domain ( will receive more clout because it’s an inbound link. Of course, we all want more clout.

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Comments (1)

  1. I think it is absolutely crazy how frequently google (and the other search engines) change their criteria. I understand that the competition for ranking is tough; but randomly changing the the algorithms is almost damn near impossible to keep up on.