How Accurate is Open Site Explorer?

In SEO, The Digital Marketing Blog by Kelvin1 Comment

Since the talk of Yahoo’s switch to Bing to power their search results, there has been a growing panic amongst SEOs about the loss of popular link counting and analysis tool Yahoo Site Explorer.

While most people were worrying SEOmoz’s posse of developers have been working to make a simpler and quicker version of their Linkscape tool to replace Yahoo’s condemned tool.

Weighing up the options – Image Credit

It’s known as Open Site Explorer and has already been covered in depth by much more knowledgeable types than myself, but the new launch gave me a nice new data point for some analysis I’ve been doing comparing the link counts of a few of the most popular link building tools.

Let me start off by saying the word accurate in the title is a bit misleading, there’s no real right answer for how many links a site has. The aim of my test was to see whether any of the tools agree on how many links a site has or at least rank the sites in the same order.

So which sites did I want to test? I decided to look at four of my favourite websites about search, I’ve run this same test for a few clients but understandably decided not to share them here!

And in terms of tools I went for

  • Google link: syntax
  • Yahoo Site Explorer
  • SEOMoz Linkscape
  • Majestic SEO
  • Open Site Explorer (from SEOmoz)

Ideally I’d like to have run this test on a much larger number of sites, but it’s a good starter for ten.

The first result is no surprise apart from the two tools based on SEOmoz none of the tools agreed on absolute number of links.

Google Link Site Explorer Linkscape Links Majestic SEO Link Diagnosis Open Site Explorer
http://www.seomoz.org/

2,390

1,612,338

70,974

7,726,207

4500

70,974

http://searchengineland.com/

7,880

786,877

113,390

8,635,248

3869

113,390

http://www.seobook.com/

2,770

489,014

93,510

5,060,221

4793

93,510

http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/

420

59,923

12,275

145,783

3205

93,510

Once I’d got the numbers in the table above, I did a little standard deviation (proving my a.s level in Maths and Stats wasn’t a complete was of time).

If you’re scared of standard deviation and z-scores don’t be – basically it normalises the results and tells us, ignoring the absolute numbers, how far a result is from the average. So we might hope that once we’ve done these normalisations the results might be a little more consistent.

The idea being here if they don’t agree on the numbers of links maybe they do at least agree ‘relatively’ how well a site is doing for links.

Google Link

Site Explorer

Linkscape Links

Majestic SEO

Link Diagnosis

Open Site Explorer

z-score http://www.seomoz.org/

-0.3

1.3

0.0

0.6

0.6

-1.3

z-score http://searchengineland.com/

1.4

0.1

0.9

0.9

-0.3

1.2

z-score  http://www.seobook.com/

-0.2

-0.4

0.5

-0.1

1.0

0.0

z-score  http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/

-0.9

-1.0

-1.4

-1.4

-1.3

0.0

And in a nutshell, they don’t.

So what does this mean? We’ll never compare link counts given by two different tools, they measure them completely differently and barely agree.

Secondly, if you intend to report on link counts over time you’ll need to try and pick a tool that you can trust to be around if you want your count to be useful in the long term.

So I’d recommend using a tool you expect to be around for the long haul. But we would have probably said exactly that about Yahoo Site Explorer previously.

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Comments

  1. Am a bit suspicious of OSE as it has given me exactly the same number of links for the last 3 months even though I am working on getting at least three links a day..I know these take a while to be found but not one? in three months? hmm

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