With the demise of Yahoo Site Explorer today, SEOs and online marketers will be wondering where to go now for free access to the invaluable information it provided over the past 6 years. The companies that sell this information as part of their marketing tool platforms must be jumping for joy because there really is no longer a free alternative.
As Yahoo Site Explorer (YSE) rolls in to Bing Webmaster Tools the information will be initially restricted to sites you own - so competitor analysis will be lost this way. Though if Bing wants to get more people using their tools instead of Google, the move would be to include competitor data access like YSE showed. I would switch to get that access.
When Yahoo Site Explorer launched in September 2005, I remember the happiness many marketers displayed at the fall conferences that year. Google Webmaster Central didn't launch until about a year later, so this was a new and informative tool only found through paid analytics at the time.
OK, so much for the nostalgia. Most people want to know what can be done now. The announcement of the merger was done months ago, but I know most people are now looking for alternatives. So are there any?
Unfortunately, I haven't found any free tool that covers everything you could get from YSE. But there are some that can give people low on funds a start.
SEOMoz has Open Site Explorer that offers the same information, but unless you have a Pro membership the amount of the information is restricted. For people with only five websites or less, monthly fees start at $99. But you get a lot more than link information for that fee.
The obvious other ways that can generate this information within the search results themselves are Google hacks.
These "allin" searches with qualifiers are handy, but you can't download large numbers of pages - generally restricted to 100 results per page, so there is a lot of spreadsheet building involved.
A pile of sites offer trials to help short term, but if you want long-term insights you really need to join one to keep the reports over time. True, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools will give you the information about your own site, but when it comes to doing a client's initial report or if you're a small guy wanting to check out your competitors, the free alternatives really aren't there.
There are plenty of high quality paid versions. I'm partial to Link Research Tools for finding out as much information about links as you could possibly need. But there are others:
- Majestic SEO
- Ahrefs Site Explorer
- Who Links To Me
- Sitemap Generators can also be used to capture pages and internal link text in some cases too.
Using link building tools is another way to gather information. But again most need some tweaking or doing pivot tables in your spreadsheets to gather the information and can cost money.
YSE will be missed. Let's see if Bing is smart enough to relaunch under their umbrella. If you know of any free tools not mentioned above, let us know in the comments - but don't spam, they will be checked and bad links called out and dropped.