This tool is too cool for school, fool. I just had to write that, and I do apologize. Yahoo Site Explorer does appear to be an excellent tool though. I learned about it last evening at the Web Guild’s SEO Web 2.0 event. It came recommended by Adam Lasnik, the guy in charge of Google’s Webmaster Tools. I figured it was worth a look.
Basically Yahoo Site Explorer can give the same type of information you get from Google’s advanced search operators like “link:” and “site:,” only it is more complete and detailed in some areas. For example Google shows that my business Web design site has 38 backlinks, or links TO my site. Anyone who has done SEO for any amount of time knows that these links, displayed using the “link:” operator, are virtually meaningless. They always display a number much less than the actual incoming links you have, and they display the same set for months or even a year, independant links being added or deleted. And Google doesn’t even use that same data for their actual search algorithm. The only use I see for the “link:” operator is to show you some of the sites that link to your competitor’s site. It’s a good way to find free directories, or even suss out their linking strategy.
In Google’s defense, the reason they can’t supply complete information using their advanced operators is because they execute in the same search box as their bread-and-butter search. Getting too fancy with the advanced operator info would cost overhead and execution time.
In comparison, Yahoo Site Explorer shows 1,054 “inlinks” (same thing as Google backlinks) to my business Web design site. That’s probably about right. On the other hand Yahoo Site Explorer only shows 740 pages indexed, while Google’s “site:” operator shows over 2,000. This is probably because Yahoo only has 740 of my pages indexed. Google has a more complete index of my Web site because I use Google Sitemaps, which allows me to specifically point to each of the pages contained therein.
How can Yahoo be so complete? I’m guessing it’s because Yahoo Site Explorer is seperate application from Yahoo Search, so they don’t have to worry about the Webmasters dragging down their standard search performance.
Even though Yahoo Site Explorer is so cool and complete and better than Google, it is not an earth-shattering find for me. I’ve never had much trouble getting good position on Yahoo. It’s trying to figure out Google that causes me to pull out my hair and wet the bed (ok, not wet the bed, but I wonder if I’ll get any hits for that phrase?) So when Google pulls their search operators off into a different application, and makes the data available to Webmasters more complete, then I’ll yell hip-hip-hooray and jump for joy.