Today represents a big day for those looking to work on their SEO in Cambridge, Peterborough, Huntingdon and beyond. A key, free link research tool provided by the Yahoo search engine has, after due notice, been retired. The Yahoo Site Explorer has been withdrawn as Bing and Yahoo have worked on merging their search technologies in a desperate bid to compete with the Google behemoth.
This site used to provide a means of investigating where your competitors got their links from, and thus indicated areas that you could research to see where you could get similar links from: a somewhat clunky but powerful link building tool.
To be able to keep an up to date list of who is linking to whom on the web takes a huge amount of processing – in fact it needs a system that crawls the whole web as regularly as possible, hence why a search engine is the perfect platform to produce such information. However, Google have never provided such data (they provide limited data about your own website if you are signed up for their webmaster tools) as they see as it as revealing too much information, and we haven’t heard of any plans for Bing to do so (although that might be one way of attracting more attention from website owners if they did).
So what next? There are various paid for link research programs, but the best FREE link research tool we have come across is Open Site Explorer from a company called SEOmoz.
This is a free, cut down version of a professional tool ($99 per month) which provides more information than was available from Yahoo Site Explorer, such as the ability to show only links that are ‘followed’ (‘no follow’ links are specially tagged as passing no credibility to the site they are linked to and are commonly used in blogs to stop spammers gaining credibility from positing links back to their own sites). The professional version also gives an idea of the authority of the site linking in and the anchor text linked on (both good for helping you determine the priority of sites which are worth trying to build links from).
I’ve never been impressed in the past by the quality of the data – SEOmoz buy spare time from Amazon’s cloud computing system to crawl the web, but they just don’t have the horsepower to crawl the web like Google’s hundreds of thousands of servers. However, with the closure of Yahoo’s site explorer, more people being pushed towards this tool and more people paying SEOmoz for their services, this data can only get better.
So, farewell Yahoo Site Explorer and hello Open Site Explorer; no matter what technology you use the key thing is to keep building links through whatever – legitimate – means possible.
The bottom line: engage with your potential audience wherever possible.