In a few posts today Google announced that they are giving webmasters more information to monitor your inbound links:
We want to provide as much information as we can to help webmasters understand how their sites perform and how to improve their results. And we want to get input from the site owners, who after know their sites best. We spend a lot of time talking with, and getting feedback from, webmasters. One request we hear a lot is to show which pages link to a site. You could always get a sub-sampled list of backlinks by using the link: operator, but now, as the owner of a site, you can get a much larger list in the Webmaster Tools component of Webmaster Central. Google Blog
Viewing links to a page on your site
You can view the links to your site by selecting a verified site in your webmaster tools account and clicking on the new Links tab at the top. Once there, you will see the two options on the left: external links and internal links, with the external links view selected. You will also see a table that lists pages on your site, as shown below. The first column of the table lists pages of your site with links to them, and the second column shows the number of the external links to that page that we have available to show you. (Note that this may not be 100% of the external links to this page.)
Finding links to a specific page on your site
To find links to a specific page on your site, you first need to find that specific page in the summary view. You can do this by navigating through the table, or if you want to find that page quickly, you can use the handy Find a page link at the top of the table. Just fill in the URL and click See details. For example, if the page you are looking for has the URL http://www.google.com/?main, you can enter “?main” in the Find a page form. This will take you directly to the detailed view of the links to http://www.google.com/?main.
Viewing internal links
To view internal links to pages on your site, click on the Internal Links tab on the left side bar in the view. This takes you to a summary table that, just like external links view, displays information about pages on your site with internal links to them.
Downloading links data
There are three different ways to download links data about your site. The first: download the current view of the table you see, which lets you navigate to any summary or details table, and download the data in the current view. Second, and probably the most useful data, is the list all external links to your site. This allows you to download a list of all the links that point to your site, along with the information about the page they point to and the last time we crawled that link. Thirdly, we provide a similar download for all internal links to your site. Google Webmaster Central Blog
This new addition to the webmaster’s quiver is a welcome addition, however, it remains to be seen how it will affect link building practices.
What do you think?
Is this too little too late for Google, or is this just good timing as inconsistency still exists in optimization tools?