How to Use Open Site Explorer for Free: 3 Tips
Updated on October 8th, 2013
GUEST POST by Andy Crestodina
Open Site Explorer is a simple tool built by SEOmoz for checking how many and which sites are linking to any other site. You might call it a “link popularity checker,” “backlink profiler” or, as SEOmoz calls it, “The Search Engine for Links.”
Whatever you call it, it is very, very powerful. The site has indexed 9.2 trillion links. If you’re at all interested in SEO, that number just made your mouth water. You can enter any website and Open Site Explorer will tell you lots of good stuff:
- Total links
- Number of linking root domains (how many websites are linking)
- Domain Authority (combines all the data to predict how likely the site is to rank)
- Page Authority (combines the data to predict how likely the page is to rank)
The tool is free for anyone to use, but they limit you to three reports per day. So of all the dozens of clever ways to use this tool, here are three of the best.
1. Check your own links.
If you haven’t checked your site yet, you’re missing some important information. Enter your own web address to check the following:
Domain Authority: This will give you a sense of where you should be writing.
- If it’s in the 30-40 range, focus on link building through guest blogging and online PR.
- If it’s in the 50-60 range, balance posting on your site with posting on other sites.
- If it’s in the 70-80 range, you’re already famous. Blog mostly on your own site.
Compare Link Metrics: Internal Links vs. External Links
- If 90%+ of your links are external (other sites linking to you), you’re probably missing opportunities to create internal links from one page to another on your own site.
- If 40%+ of your links are internal, you’re not link building enough.
2. Check your top competitor.
If you don’t already rank first for your most important keyphrase (I know the feeling), enter the address of the site that does.
- If the domain authority is much higher than yours (20+ points higher), it’s going to be difficult to outrank this site. Consider targeting more specific, less competitive phrases until your domain authority is higher.
- Although you can only see the top five sites linking to this competitor, look at the list and see if any of these sites would be opportunities for you. Obviously, seeing all of the links would give you a better opportunity to do this kind of competitive analysis.
3. Check out sites where you may be able to guest blog.
Guest blogging is a great way to grow your link popularity. If you haven’t already discovered this all-important web marketing technique, here’s a post that explains the general philosophy behind it: Guest Blogging, a Love Story.
When considering a possible host blog (and link partner) use Open Site Explorer to measure the value of the possible link. But rather than entering the website’s home page, enter the address of another blog post on the site. This will show you the Page Authority of the type of page where the link would appear. The Page Authority is often more relevant than the Domain Authority for two reasons:
- The link to your site won’t likely appear on the homepage for long, if at all.
- If the host blog is on a subdomain of a popular blogging site, such as hostblog.blogger.com, the domain authority will be very high (blogger.com has great link popularity) but it has little to do with the value of the link (hostblog.blogger.com may have very low link popularity).
Free is great, but …
Honestly, there is great value in paying the $100US for an SEOmoz subscription. If you do, you’ll get unlimited use to Open Site Explorer (not just three times per day), you’ll see all the links (not just the top five), and you’ll get access to all the pro tools, which are very extensive. Ever seen a chart of search ranking over time? Not in Analytics! It’s one of the many lovely charts available for pro members …
Hope you enjoyed these three quick (and free) tricks. If you have any other suggestions or questions, feel free to help out your fellow readers and leave a comment below.
[Adam Franklin: I had the pleasure of meeting Andy Crestodina at the #wineweb event he ran in Chicago in May. I learnt a heap of new things about email marketing and I must thank Liz Strauss for the introduction and for inviting me along!]