Introducing Open Site Explorer

I attended SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) webinar last Thursday, January 28, and learned some things on how to make the most of the new link analysis tool.

If you’ve been using Linkscape as one of your search engine optimisation tools you’re probably pretty happy with the functionalities that the service brings. At first glance it might seem that another link analysis tool would just be redundant and, for the most part, that is actually true. However there are some things that Open Site Explorer can give that Linkscape doesn’t really do and vice versa. In the future though Rand said that OSE and Linkscape will probably become integrated with one becoming the premium version.

One of the major difference is the number of links available per report: shows up to 10,000 links in OSE and 3,000 links in Linkscape. Note though that unless you are a SEOmoz Pro member you will only be shown details of 5 links in OSE and none in Linkscape. However, you do see the other important metrics such as overall page authority, domain authority, number of linking root domains, and total number of links including those that are “no followed”. These data are things you need to know where you stand in your link building effort, but it’s really the other data that gives you more actionable items.

According to Rand some of the things you can do with the data given by OSE include finding the following:

  • 302 pages – What you can do is turn them into 301s
  • 404 pages – You have to options for these pages: either put content in those pages or redirect them.
  • Inbound links with low quality anchor text – Contact the owner of the linking page and ask them to change the anchor text to something you prefer.
  • Links to competitors’ error pages – Don’t forget to analyze your competitors’ links. Do the same thing as #3 but make sure you explain to the person you are contacting to link to YOUR page, explain how linking to an error page can hurt them, and give your preferred anchor text. This isn’t really unethical since the link was pointing to an empty error page anyway.
  • Links to old/poor pages – Redirect these links to newer pages that offer fresh and/or more relevant content.

One other thing that Rand suggested that stood out for me was in answer to a question by one of the participants. (Sorry I wasn’t able to take note of the person’s name. If you attended the same webinar and know, do let me know.) The question was: How can we use OSE to determine what to charge our clients?

Rand suggested that you simply check out the domain and page authority of your client’s page as well as the number of links. Then you check out your client’s competitors’ pages and compare the data, after which you can do a guestimate of how much effort you need to put into link building as well as how long it will take to creep up on the competitors in search rankings.

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