Every morning, I engage in a rather systematic review of SEO industry sites, scouring the scene for new insights and observations that will help me improve my craft. Two of my favorites are Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land. Both of these portals are recognized as industry leaders in terms of both reach and influence.
So imagine my surprise when I woke up last Friday and noticed that a conversation between myself and Tristan Panasik, Manager of New Media here at DigitalGrit, made it onto the homepage of these two search engine industry giants.
How did this happen? Well that depends on your perspective.
For weeks, Tristan’s team and myself have been discussing the merits of Yahoo’s Site Explorer feature. We all agreed that it offered the most comprehensive data on a given site’s inbound links (if you have a Google Webmaster Tools account you can get even more complete and accurate data for a verified domain, but that’s a story for another day) but on Thursday afternoon, it appeared as if Tristan had stumbled upon a possible fly in the ointment.
She pointed out that members of her team were getting two wildly disparate sets of results when pulling backlink data for a specific client. After digging around for a possible cause, and finding next to nothing, I decided to go to one of my other favorite SEO hangouts, webmasterworld.com.
Most discerning webmasters know that if you’re looking for highly specialized and comprehensive information on a very specific topic, one of the first places you should turn to is WebmasterWorld. So anyhow, I posted a thread about this possible Yahoo Site Explorer discrepancy, and sure enough, esteemed member “Lord Majestic” came back with a lucid response within minutes of my initial post. It turns out that Yahoo chooses to serve a more complete sampling of data to users that are logged in to their Yahoo profiles.
Apparently, the powers that be at WebmasterWorld felt that this discussion was worthy of note, so they flagged it as an item of interest, and by morning, it had already begun making the rounds.
So that’s one way of looking at how this discrepancy became an item of public record. But here’s another.
Here at DigitalGrit, we try to foster a climate of community and interaction amongst the various departments. Tristan’s willingness to share her team’s insights with others is the reason why this topic made it onto WebmasterWorld, who in turn helped make it a public discussion, and it is a perfect example of why communication is a fundamental aspect of SEO.
Nobody knows everything there is to know, so the only way to expand your horizons is to ask questions and pass ideas along.
Anyhow, for those of you interested in the inner details, here’s a quick Q & A session with Tristan Panasik:
Hugo: So how exactly did you come upon this strange discrepancy in Yahoo Site Explorer?
Tristan: Our team has a practice of reporting on link popularity from the top search engines on a regular basis. We noticed the discrepancy while "QA"ing a report for one of our new clients that was started earlier in the week, and once we recognized that Yahoo! was reporting similar numbers for different domains, I decided to run the link command one more time expecting to see a slight deviation in link popularity; however, the new result on my computer showed 1.4 million inbound links compared to the 100,000 that we had pulled earlier in the week.
Hugo: Why do you think that Yahoo is serving a different set of data, depending on whether or not you’re logged in to their portal?
Tristan: Logically, it makes sense. If you’re logged into a Yahoo! account, which I always am, Yahoo! has the ability to learn more about you and what information you’re pulling, and in return they are willing to reward you by sharing more detailed information.
Hugo: Since you’re a link-building guru, can you share some insights on how you use data from Yahoo Site Explorer for the purposes of link building?
Tristan: Yahoo! Site Explorer helps our team to understand the unique link popularity that is inherent to each individual domain, which helps us to determine the quality and quantity of the inbound links pointing to our sites. This information is helpful because it a) helps us to understand the verticals that we can approach from a proactive link building standpoint, b) helps to pinpoint existing inbound links that aren’t good from a quality perspective, and c) allows us to monitor the pool of inbound links pointing to similar competitor sites that we can tap into.
Hugo: Thanks for the insights, Tristan. Keep up the good work!