Yahoo Site Explorer Shuts Down – No Good Alternatives


Yahoo officially shut down the Yahoo Site Explorer today — a move that we knew was coming, but still hurts. Yahoo’s Site Explorer was the best and largest free resource for determining the exact backlinks that were pointing to a site. The resource was used throughout the SEO community as a quick and easy way to check the backlinks of competitors and it provided a downloadable CSV file of up to 1,000 of the top backlinks.

Not only was Yahoo Site Explorer used heavily in the SEO industry, but many of the SEO tools that have been developed over the years use the Site Explorer to fuel some of the reporting in the SEO tools.

The shut down of Yahoo Site Explorer is an indication of the completion of Yahoo’s backend merger with Bing, and at the moment while they’re trying to direct SEOs to use Bing’s webmaster tools, they currently don’t display nearly the information that was available through Yahoo Site Explorer. Much like Google’s webmaster tools, Bing’s will only let you see the backlinks for your own site, not the backlinks that the competition has (a very important research tool).

Site Explorer Alternatives?

Unfortunately there are no alternatives to Yahoo Site Explorer that are also free and offer remotely the same quantity and quality of backlink information. In fact, there are very few free options at all, though there are a massive pile of options that charge. On the free front we have a couple of not-so-hot resources:

  • Blekko: The next best free resource we have is the search engine Blekko, which offers the same backlink information (and some fun additional information) by doing a search for the domain name and adding (after a space) /link in the search. Unfortunately Blekko’s link index is massively smaller than Yahoo’s was and you’ll miss more links than you find using Blekko.
  • Open Site Explorer: A quasi-free option that, frankly, blows chunks. The free version of Open Site Explorer will show you a whopping 5 backlinks. Its only purpose is to try to sell you the paid version.

Okay, so Blekko is the only viable free option, and doesn’t have a very extensive index. So what about paid options? Well, there are a lot of them, because SEO is big business and tons of people want to charge for the most precious information in the SEO world. It’s worth noting that the paid options usually include far more than just backlink analysis the way Yahoo Site Explorer did it. They are usually just a part of a vast SEO toolkit… some of which are useful, most of which are not.

Here are a few paid backlink options:

  • Open Site Explorer: the paid version of Open Site Explorer will actually give you more than 5 results — it will give you as many as it knows of. Unfortunately Open Site Explorer uses Linkscape to find links, and the Linkscape link index is vastly smaller than what we had through Yahoo Site Explorer, and it appears to update incredibly slowly. While the paid program gives you access to many other tools that you may find helpful, Open Site Explorer isn’t really any better than the free Blekko option for the raw task of listing backlinks.
  • Magestic SEO: Another paid option, (technically they have a free option only for a site you control — but seriously, we have Google and Bing webmaster tools for that) Magestic has an incredibly large link index — pretty much the exact opposite of Linkscape. The downside is there is a lot of junk in the Magestic index and you can waste some time sifting through the garbage to get to the good links, but at least it has all the links there.
  • Link Research Tools: A paid resource that takes advantage of various link indexes and provides a ton of tools for how to look at that link information. Since this includes Magestic’s index, it has all the advantages of Magestic and from there it’s just a matter of deciding what tools you want access to.

On a final note for the paid options — they aren’t cheap. In the larger scope of a business they aren’t bad, but it’s not just a few bucks either. Honestly, I wish someplace like Magestic would come up with an incredibly cheap option that did nothing but what Yahoo Site Explorer did — give us a list of backlinks.

They could even charge $0.99 per report, or offer a little 10 bucks a month package to just get the raw data. Or heck, offer it for free but then give all the added info & tools for  a fee. Then everyone in the world would know about their service and I bet you they would sell a lot more as a result.

Yahoo Site Explorer has definitely left a gap in the SEO market that no other product fills nearly as well. I hope that someone steps up to take advantage of the opportunity and fill the hole.

Comments 16

  • ofcourse the death of yahoo site explorer made us sad but we are happy that there some more powerful alternatives of yahoo site explorer online, i recently wrote on Yahoo site explorer alternatives hope you guys will find it useful.


  • While blekko’s crawl is smaller than Site Explorer’s was, we have prioritized it so that we try to crawl the most important pages on the most important sites. If most of your backlinks don’t appear in our count, that might mean something about the usefulness and quality of those backlinks.

  • Thanks for the comment. Does the report show all of the backlinks that Blekko uses in the link-portion of their ranking algorithm, or is anything held back?

  • Surprisingly (to me) I am currently finding Google Webmaster Tools to be the best option. I use the full version of SEOSpyglass as well and GWT finds far more links than that does.
    Register with Open Site Explorer and it will show 20, no use for checking my own site but useful in seeing what my competitors highest ranking (according to SEOmoz) links are.

  • Hi and thanks for the mention of Link Research Tools!

    I listened and you’re not the only only asking for this

    >did nothing but what Yahoo Site Explorer did — give us a list of >backlinks.
    >They could even charge $0.99 per report, or offer a little 10 >bucks a month package to just get the raw backlinks.

    That being said, you will LOVE the new QBL that we launch tomorrow.

    If you’re quick you can still signup for an account here at no cost

    Best regards
    Christoph C. Cemper
    creator of Link Research Tools

    PS: QBL will be fast!
    PPS: QBL will be very very affordable!
    PPPS: QBL will outdo ANY other backlink checking tool again, like the more expensive options of LRT as well

  • With Yahoo Site Explorer closing, it’s been pretty difficult to find a goo alternative. I wrote a blog post about Yahoo site explorer alternatives recently. It has one or two on there that you’ve left out, although I did forget the excellent Blekko (unlike you).

  • There are actually very cheap solutions. One example is what I’m using myself. This is SEO SpyGlass, another YSE alternative that many SEOs now overlook since it’s a bit unusual. What’s so special is that SEO SpyGlass is a desktop tool, unlike other tools which are online services (but the good think is, you pay only $99 for the license instead of an expensive monthly subscription like services charge).

    Here is the link

    They managed to make link research very cheap actually due to combining two methods of pulling backlinks: SEO SpyGlass runs a search across serahc engines in real time, finding all possible backlinks, and also it pulls a massive of up to 20K links per website from their own pre-stored database link pool. So altogether the link count is huge, and the price is a one-time $99 license fee and than $3/month fee for the software and database update.

  • Hmm, I’ve never heard of it — but if they get backlinks from search engines, then their link counts will plummet with Yahoo no longer providing backlink info (since Google’s backlink search is virtually non-existent).

    Do they have their own spider that populates their database, or do they use one of the existing link indexes for it?

  • Hi Brian! As far as I get it, they have their own spider to crawl the web and they store the links in the database and refresh this index (support said full refreshment cycle is about a week long), but they also check search engines in real time. Of course they search in Blekko, Icerocket, Ask which provide quite a lot of links, and also many other search engines.

    So when these two link sources are combined, altogether they are able to give you an impressive list of links and the check their factors (like PR, hoster ip and country, Alexa and other factors).

    They don’t put any limits on the number of links found in search engines, but for the database use there’s a limit of 20,000 links per website. So it might be for example 100K links total, but only if 80K are found in search engines (and I’ve seen that :))

  • Right. Their plan was to put the users into Bing Webmaster Tools. Which just won’t happen because you can only check out the backlinks of websites you own. Sad.

  • Disgusting! This sounds just like pure greed!

  • Well, at least, all good things have to come to an end sometime.

  • So when these two link sources are combined, altogether they are able to give you an impressive list of links and the check their factors

  • Bing Webmaster Tools is no substitute for Yahoo Site Explorer it requires a Microsoft Windows LiveID for login and the provided toolset is far inferior to Yahoo Site Explorer. The biggest drawback, one which renders Bing Webmaster Tools completely useless is that webmasters can only view data about sites they have verified ownership of. This means, much like Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools does not allow analysis of competitor sites (ie: backlinks) as many of us are accustomed to using YSE for.

  • I have been using open site explorer but i am sceptical about paying the monthly subscription as if what you say about the databases being true and not that larger i dont fancy paying the full subscription.

    I hope that a new free service becomes available soon, surely if some one developed a brilliant free service that was widely used they could just clean up on ad–revenue??

  • I still decide to choose about Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO, opensite is much more expensive. Any deep review for this two?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *