This week Yandex, the largest search engine in Russia decided to remove the ability for webmasters to view incoming links to their sites (or backlinks as they are commonly known). Previously this had been possible by two methods, the first using a search operator [link="www.domain.com"] and secondly through their advanced search page.
The function was removed from their advanced search page on Monday and within a few hours, the operator also stopped working.
This is not the first time a search engine has decided to stop webmasters viewing the number of backlinks to a website. Google and Yahoo! have for some time now only returned a small number of results. MSN went against the flow when they launched “Live”, even introducing a new operator “linkdomain”, however they withdrew this earlier in the year, due to “mass automated usage for data mining“.
Search engines see open access to backlink information as a problem but this maybe the first time one has resolved the issue by removing the function completely. So far there has been no official comment from Yandex on their decision.