Does the new Moz “Link Explorer” address the problems with Moz’s Open Site Explorer and its problematic Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) metrics?
For many years, Moz’s Open Site Explorer and its DA and PA metrics have been widely used to estimate a site’s likelihood to rank for a keyword or its ability to influence rank through links.
Despite its continued popularity, any SEO that’s been paying close attention has realized that it’s been largely unhelpful in accomplishing either of these tasks. Tools like Ahrefs and Majestic have become preferred by many SEOs and a visit to any SEO forum will uncover comments like this:
Moz does an exemplary job of marketing its products and its thought leadership is second to none. If it weren’t for its excellent content marketing, Open Site Explorer may have died long ago, since most of its features lag far behind alternatives on the market.
Moz is a wonderful company and most of the SEO community really does want to see it remain relevant, so most of us are happy to see that it is making an effort to improve its Open Site Explorer. The company announced that it is dramatically increasing the size of its index, allowing much more data to be used to calculate its proprietary DA and PA scores.
It’s much better at finding links and it features a very clean interface, but lacks a few features
The index is BIG
The new index that is powering Link Explorer can clearly rival that of Majestic and Ahrefs. I have yet to find a case in which Link Explorer could not find as many links as another tool that I have access to.
Domain Authority (DA) is a lot more reliable
Moz now relies on a much larger index to calculate Domain Authority (DA) and is much more usable as a result. No longer do I find sites that dominate the search engine results showing a DA of 10-15. Additionally, the score updates so frequently that a site owner or SEO can now see changes in the score within a few days of building new links.
Is the spam score better?
As far as picking up on spammy linkbuilding, my experience has been that Majestic is the best at picking up on it. Below I give an example of a site that has built its backlink profile almost entirely through comment spam and it has a solid DA. It would be nice to see the DA decrease from such tactics. The new “spam score” has not yet been deployed, so we’ll see how it performs when it is released.
It has a really clean interface and does most basic SEO tasks very well
Given that it finds about the same amount of links that Ahrefs and Majestic find, what advantage is there to Link Explorer and Moz Pro? My impression is that its very simple interface and limited features are perfect for a novice SEO or blog owner that just wants to use a tool for link prospecting. Logging into Ahrefs is a bit like stepping into an airplane cockpit. Someone that is new to SEO is likely to feel overwhelmed by it, but not Moz Pro and its Link Explorer. A more experienced SEO is likely to prefer a tool like Ahrefs, since it offers so many more features for virtually the same price.
What Changes Has Moz Made to Open Site Explorer?
Technically, Open Site Explorer (OSE) is no more. It is being deprecated and Moz is now launching its Link Explorer. Rand Fishkin goes over the changes in infrastructure that have allowed for the “improved” Link Explorer in this article, but I’ll give you the rundown.
What Moz has announced as being “new” in the “new Moz Link Explorer:”
- The Moz index is now significantly larger than it was before
- Domain Authority and Page Authority update much more frequently (daily)
- Moz Spam Score replaces MozTrust
- The interface is much nicer
- Link distribution can be viewed by Domain Authority
How Does Moz Stack Up Against Competitors Now?
This is not going to be an exhaustive study. I am going to simply compare the number of links found by Moz with the links found by Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Majestic and see how the larger Moz index is making it a more usable tool for me.
After a few weeks of trying Link Explorer, I can confidently say the results that I found with these sites were pretty consistent with what I’ve found through using the tool
Site 1, Legal Niche
In the case of this site, Moz can finally hang. It found just about the same number of active links as the other tools and did a good job of not reporting dead links as active (as in the case of SEMrush). Overall, the tool that indexed the most links and correctly identified the dead links as no longer active was Majestic, but in the case of this website, Link Explorer is showing some promise
Site 2, Home Improvement
Site 3, Dentist
It Looks Like Moz Can Finally Hang with Other Backlink Checkers
Although this is a small sample set, it is reflective of what my experience has been with SEO tools. Typically, Ahrefs and Majestic have found more of the links that we’ve built for our clients, SEMrush would lag a bit behind, and Moz Site Explorer way behind the pack.
It appears that Moz has finally built an index that rivals those of Ahrefs and Majestic. I still will not be adopting it as my main tool, since it doesn’t have the wide amount of tools available to tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush (namely, the content explorers and keyword planning tools) but it is certainly a usable tool for backlink research.
With the wide adoption of their tools, Moz will finally be able to deliver a much better tool to its subscribers.
If you’re interested in checking out reviews of other SEO tools, I recommend Tobias Hyldeborg’s review of Accutracker.