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Open Site Explorer is a site that helps you gauge the relative importance of both your site and the sites of others. How is this any better than looking at Alexa rankings? Well, Alexa has some truth to it, but can be easily manipulated. You see, Alexa rankings are based solely on the number of people who visit a site and have the Alexa toolbar enabled. So, what many site owners do, is download the toolbar and view all of their pages to improve their Alexa ranking. (I do not recommend this tactic, it is black hat SEO.) Open Site Explorer, on the other hand, uses back links to determine how search engines categorize a site. Let’s take a closer look.

When you first visit Open Site Explorer, you will see a simple website input box. Give the system a website and it will give you several metrics. You will see the Page Authority, Domain Authority, Link Root Domains, and Total Links. All of these are important to understand when judging the authority of a given site. OSE is a great tool to use before deciding to guest blog or initiate a link exchange.

The Page Authority is useful for bloggers looking to guest blog on a website, since they can choose what category that their post will be placed in. For example, I own a blog called Cool Gizmo Toys. If I have a category, I actually do not, called Cool Food, it might not be an authority on that subject since my blog is oriented around tech, toys, and gadgets. Thus, the Page Authority may be extremely low. If I have a page called Cool Design, which I do, it may be more of an Authority on the subject of Cool Design due to the fact that it has more links going back to that page. If you are a guest blogger looking to blog about Michael Jackson records, check out the domain’s Page Authority for that specific page and see if this endeavor would benefit your site’s rankings.

The Domain Authority checks the combined authority of a website. It takes into account the ranking and back links on all pages of a website, giving you a pretty good idea of how important this site is to google. (I’d say anything above a 60 is a pretty big deal, as in they have an entire staff of paid writers and their own TV show.)

The Link Root Domains statistic is extremely important to understand when evaluating the worth of a website. First, before I explain this metric, you will need to know a little something about link building. It is better to have a thousand links from a thousand sites than a thousand links from one site. (Assuming, of course, that the one site giving you a thousand links is not at the level of Google or Engadget.) Link Root Domains tells you how many different sites are linking to you. The larger this number is, the better.

Finally, the Total Links statistic shows you how many internal, external, followed, and nofollowed back links a particular domain has. This is not as important as the Link Root Domains statistic, but high-value sites will have an extremely high number in this category. (Just to give you an idea – Engadget has over 1.4 million links in this category.) Internal links are the domain linking back to itself. These are important to create, but do not really reflect the popularity of a site. The external links are very important – these are the links generated by other sites, and not by comment boxes. Followed and nofollowed links differ only in whether or not a valid back link is generated. Website owners, focus on improving you number of external links – this is a big factor in site authority.

Open Site Explorer is a wonderful tool for site owners looking to link exchange as well as webmasters looking to boost their site’s rankings. If you work at improving these metrics, and use OSE to preview potential guest blogging sites, you will increase your traffic, guaranteed.

Author Bio:

Jack Kieffer is a blogger and owner of Cool Gizmo Toys, a blog that focuses on cool design and RC toys.