Search Engine Optimization

The Most Important SEO Tool You’re Not Using

Brad Smith
November 3, 2011

Google’s PageRank doesn’t mean much anymore.

It used to be the most important SEO metric you needed.

But the world is more complicated.

Google’s algoritm has evolved tremendously.

So you need more sophisticated tools to measure your progress.

Here’s the best SEO tool you’re not using.


Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a link analysis tool that closely mimics what Google or Bing’s linkscape looks like.

You can use it to explore all web pages indexed by search engines and get a huge amount of information about your (or your competitor’s) website.

It will also fill the void left when the Yahoo Site Explorer goes away soon.

Open Site Explorer was created by SEO software firm SEOmoz in 2010, and they’ve since updated it tremendously.

There are a few main reasons to use it.

Evaluate Your Own Strength and Links

You can use it to evaluate your own links and website strength. This is tremendously helpful when doing your own SEO, and analyzing your own strengths and weaknesses.

You can also use it to determine the work of an SEO agency helping you. For example, I recently was working with a client and was immediately able to give them insight about their SEO firm’s link building practices just from glancing at their Open Site Explorer report.

That helps make SEO a little less mysterious and a little more open.

Competitive Analysis

One of the best features about Open Site Explorer is that you can run a competitive analysis against other websites.

You can see how you stack up, and where there may be opportunities. Their comparison reports will let you know how each link profile (the quantity and quality of links) measures against each other.

You can also use it to compare the competitiveness of other websites going after the same keyphrases. This will tell you how competitive those websites are, and if you have a chance of ousting their positions or not.

Identify Competitive Opportunities

And for the last sneaky trick, you can use it to identify link building opportunities.

Look at the links your competitor has, and try to identify sites that would also link to you. Then you can take all of this information and go find the webmasters of each site.

What Open Site Explorer Tells You

Open Site Explorer gives you a wealth of data. Too much to cover in detail here.

But it would be beneficial to cover the basic, top level metrics you’ll see.

These are the major website metrics that matter now. These are actionable metrics that you can track and use to measure SEO performance.

  • Page Authority: The quality score of your web pages (based on link metrics)
  • Domain Authority: The quality score of your website (as a whole, based on link metrics)
  • Linking Root Domains: The number of domains (separate websites) linking to you directly from their website (as opposed to multiple links coming from the same site)
  • Total Links: The total quantity of links points to your website
  • Social Signals: This includes social media metrics that have a positive correlation with rankings. These include Facebook shares, Facebook Likes, and Google +1

Unfortunately, full access to Open Site Explorer is for paid SEOmoz members only. So you can either upgrade your account, or find someone who has an account.

But you can still get a great glimpse into their data with the free option, so I encourage you to sign up for that.

And you’ll finally get more insight into the dark, murky world of SEO.

4 Common SEO Mistakes that Will Hurt Your Rankings this Year

Enter your name and email below to get a free on-demand video about how to fix these four common mistakes:

  • Mistake #1: Relying on a “Head” Keyword Strategy
  • Mistake #2: Over-Optimizing Your Pages and Posts
  • Mistake #3: Acquiring Easy, Low Value & High Risk Links
  • Mistake #4: Not Using a Combination of Tactics to Boost SEO