According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog, they are now providing better backlink data for site owners.
Previously, by clicking the “download more sample links” button within Google’s Webmaster Tools you would receive about 100,000 backlinks listed in alphabetical order. But because the link data skewed towards the beginning of the alphabet, you wouldn’t get as complete of an idea of some sites’ backlinks.
Yinnon Haviv, software engineer at Google said:
“Based on feedback from the webmaster community, we’re improving how we select these backlinks to give sites a fuller picture of their backlink profile. The most significant improvement you’ll see is that most of the links are now sampled uniformly from the full spectrum of backlinks rather than alphabetically.” (Source)
Although the new links will still be sorted alphabetically, the change will also allow users to receive example links from different domain names and top-level domains.
This is a great move on Google’s part as it will provide Webmaster Tools users with a much more broad and diverse cross-section of links. The change with how backlinks are listed will help site owners who are looking for who is recommending their content, as well as save time and effort for those who are working on cleaning up any bad linking practices.