In a huge blow to the SEO community, Yahoo has announced that it’s closing down Site Explorer on November 21. We had known this was coming ever since the Yahoo / Bing merger was announced, but we didn’t know the date until now. YSE has been an invaluable tool for our community for years, with no similar (free) alternative in existence. Being able to view the backlink profiles for your sites, and especially, for your competitors’ sites, has been a tremendous value for everyone in the internet marketing community.
We have used YSE data for more than just competitive analysis. For example, I would always check a domain’s backlinks in YSE before purchasing a domain at auction. It has also been a good way to check on the effectiveness and indexation rate of our link building campaigns. Not to mention, very many SEO tools and browser plugins have been built with YSE integration. This change is going to cripple many of those tools, as well as many of our efforts at backlink analysis and discovery.
Are there comparable alternatives to Yahoo Site Explorer? Sure, there is SEOmoz, MajesticSEO and ahrefs.com. But those are all paid tools, and frankly, I have not found their indexes to be as comprehensive as YSE’s. I have many domains with 100 times the backlinks being shown in SEOmoz. And that may be fine for my own domains, but when evaluating a competitor, I need reliable data – something SEOmoz just doesn’t provide. Not that they don’t show good data, but knowing it’s incomplete makes it an unreliable resource from my perspective.
Clearly, this will result in a boost in business for SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer, MajesticSEO and ahrefs.com. Although, ahrefs had their business up for auction recently (but didn’t sell it) so it’s not clear whether they’ll be around for much longer either. It’s likely that the downfall of YSE may save their business, at least in the short term.
This also brings to light an obvious gap in the SEO marketplace. We desperately need a comprehensive, reliable, up-to-date site explorer. There is a huge demand for this. And although there may already be 3-5 providers of such data, there is much more room for new entrants. The challenge is, of course, the massive cost (both financially and in terms of hardware) of crawling, indexing and analyzing billions of pages on a continuous basis. When such a service does arrive, it certainly won’t be free. And that’s alright, as long as it works reliably, is updated often and offers an API for software/web app integration.