5 Legendary SEO Tools That Are Extinct Today (and What SEOs Now Use Instead)

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I’ve been doing Internet marketing for roughly 5 years, but it never occurred to me until an incident the other day that this actually a long time by the SEO world’s standards.

There is now a new generation of enthusiastic and assertive SEOs who may not have heard of Yahoo Site Explorer, Florida Update or Google Buzz.

Indeed, in Google’s Product Graveyard alone, one finds over a dozen products that sank into oblivion at the will of their creator.

Hence this post: to help SEO newbies easier find their bearings in the SEO software market (where you can still get recommended an obsolete SEO tool), and to hear established SEOs’ opinion on how they’re coping without the once-great SEO apps that are no more.

1. Yahoo! Site Explorer

Yahoo! Site Explorer was Yahoo’s free tool that let you see backlinks pointing to any provided URL.  It used to top the charts for free SEO tools, best SEO tools, and many other categories for years.

Unfortunately, the service was discontinued on November 21, 2011. However, nostalgic mood over Yahoo! Site Explorer wouldn’t die off. Even in 2013, when asked what SEO software they prefer, some people still recommend Yahoo! Site Explorer:

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What SEOs use Instead

After it was terminated, Yahoo! Site Explorer became part of Bing Webmaster Tools where Bing began offering a free Link Explorer that lets you see a limited number of competitor backlinks. So, somewhat similar functionality is now available to those logged in to Bing Webmaster Tools:

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Besides, there are tons of third-party backlink checkers (most of which offer a free trial) you can use to do pretty much the same thing.

2. Blekko the Search Engine

Blekko was another service that offered valuable backlink data (such as a list of one’s backlink pages, the geography of one’s backlinks, etc.) for free. However, Blekko is essentially a search engine. It has provided more information than you’d normally expect from a search engine for a long time, and this data has been lavishly used by SEOs.

So, having realized that, Blekko now offers a set of SEO tools on a paid basis.

What SEOs use Instead

In a way, you’d need not just a backlink checker, but an entire set of SEO apps to replace the functionality of Blekko’s service. Even though there are lots of paid options, there are also certain free tools that are comparable.

For example, W3C‘s on-page SEO tools are a great option, since they let you validate your site’s markup and CSS for free.

As far as backlink analysis is concerned, WebMeUp now offers a free backlink checker you can use to quickly get a list of links to a site.

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WebMeUp lets one see up to 1000 backlinks right on the page and download a full list of links in CSV.

3. Organic Search Keywords in Google Analytics

In fall 2011, Google decided to make search “more secure”, that is, to stop telling website owners which keywords encrypted search users typed in to Google to find a particular site.

Many considered this move hypocritical because there is no way a webmaster can track a particular search query to the end searcher. Second, the information is still available to Google AdWords advertisers.

Anyhow, the share of so-called (not provided) search terms in Google Analytics has been consistently growing. For instance, if in 2011 close to 10% to 20% of Link-Assistant.Com’s organic search terms were (not provided), then now (in 2013) it’s close to 50% most of the time:

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What SEOs use Instead

You will find many posts on the Web talking about how to “unlock” the not provided keywords in Google Analytics.  What these articles basically recommend one to do is to:

  • Check search queries in one’s Google Webmaster Tools

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  • See the keyword data from your Google AdWords account

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4. Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Honestly speaking, I don’t quite understand all this hype around the “death” of Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, since the tool did not really go away: it merged with Google’s Traffic Estimator is now available to logged-in AdWords users as Keyword Planner.

Yes, some of the old functions did become unavailable, but some new features have been added, too.

One of the biggest downsides is probably the fact that you can’t get flexible research search volumes for particular keywords, meaning you have no breakdown by device type (mobile, desktop or tablet), and no breakdown by match type (broad, exact or phrase).

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The rest of the functionality has mostly remained unchanged.

What SEOs use Instead

Like I said, it seems that once the dust settled down, most SEOs simply switched to the new Keyword Planner. At the same time, if anyone finds the new Google’s tool incomplete, there are many alternatives. Popular options normally include:

However, do be advised that no matter which keyword tool you use, it won’t provide the data missing in the new Keyword Planner, because if Google doesn’t provide it to third-parties it can’t be available anywhere else.

5. Google Reader

OK, before you cry foul, let me say that many people used Google Reader for SEO back when it existed – for content curation and link tracking, to be exact.

What was Google Reader? Google Reader was a tool that would let you read content from different webpages all in one place, similar to how a RSS feed works.

So, although most Google Reader users would use it for news tracking and online reading, many SEOs would utilize it to:

  • Keep track of content they place on third-party sites
  • Content curation and syndication
  • Link tracking

What SEOs use Instead

A quick search for “Google Reader alternatives” brings over 2 million results – that’s an exorbitant number of alternatives if you ask me.

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However, the suggestions normally boil down to:

  • Feedly (may soon be available in a Pro version)

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I’m sure there are more alternatives to the now-gone Google Reader, but I thought I’d mention the most popular ones/the once I have first-hand experiences with.

So, what about you? Do you feel nostalgic for the great free tools I just mentioned? What do you use instead?


Image credit: ollo at iStockPhoto


Alesia Krush

Alesia Krush

Alesia is an SEO and a digital marketer at Link-Assistant.Com, a major SEO software provider and the maker of SEO PowerSuite tools. Link-Assistant.Com is a... Read Full Bio
Alesia Krush
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  • amit surti

    thanks for the share Alesia
    spyfu.com is also cool site
    Thanks 🙂

  • Wallace

    I really miss the Yahoo site explorer, that was an awesome free go to tool I used to use all the time.

  • Lee Keadle

    For checking backlinks, Moz Open Site Explorer has been my go-to for a couple of years now. I especially like their Just Discovered feature. It’s still in Beta and doesn’t show all of the links, but you can see the newest links as recently as the past few hours. I’ll have to check out some of these others, too, so thanks for sharing!

  • Rob Believe

    I’ve been using OSE as well since it launched, but like the look of WebMeUp too – thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Niko

    Great article, I read with some kind of nostalgia with the part of Yahoo! Site Explorer. However, I am not fully agreeing with “AdWords Keyword Tool” … the options that they have removed was all about the tool. Those kind of features made it so valuable, at least for me at the time.

  • Clay Adams

    I think Google Trends really earns honorable mention here, now revered greatly as a gauge of google’s fancies from a keyword research standpoint and an audience analysis tool.

    • Alesia Krush

      Clay, absolutely!

      Actually, detailed monthly trends (per keyword) for the past 12 months are also available in the new Keyword Planner.


  • B. Moore

    Blekko hasn’t made their SEO Tools available new subscribers in at least a year.

    My guess is they have shut it down completely.
    I have yet to receive a response to my emails questioning them on it.

    • Alesia Krush

      Brian, thanks for the update. I haven’t tried it myself, just saw that it was available here http://blog.blekko.com/2012/10/18/blekko-seo-tools-get-unparalleled-data-to-help-drive-traffic/ (BTW, there is another email mentioned on that page ;))

      Thanks again!

  • Bobby Bhogal

    Hi Alesia,

    Just wanted to add that yes you can see the match type data from the Adwords keyword planner. What you have to do is add the keyword to your plan and make an edit to your plan to change the match type. It’s a very long hand way of going about it, but at least it’s there.

    The only drawback is that you can’t see the data BEFORE you make the decision to add the keyword to your plan! Thanks Google Monster!! 😉

    See what I mean http://ow.ly/i/3vkM2

  • Michael Kern

    I cant believe Yahoo Site explorer has been gone that long! It was part of another of my favorite tools for fast SEO research in SEO XRay. When Yahoo Site Explorer went down SEO XRay incorporated the free info from Blekko. Now sadly my favorite tool is only good for page title, description and to see if the page is using keyword mata tags. Sadly so many are still using Keyword tags.

    I can’t believe how long I have been at this now! Ufff… NICE POST!!!

  • Bryan Siegel

    How about http://backlinkwatch.com/? This has been my quick fix for links for years (been an SEO going on 10 years). For the more heavy stuff I use SEO spyglass. Does anyone remember the link operator in yahoo that worked really good too back in the day? WEBCEO (software version never tried the cloud version) for those still tracking rankings. This is by far the best rank checker on the market hands down.

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  • Philip Hansen


    thanks for that great work. I prefer to use a big mix of SEO Tools to get the best results. It’s really important to use different tools for tracking, link research, and all the other thing we SEOs do all the time 🙂

    Good luck in the SERPs!

  • Sahil

    Thanks for the good work, I personally feel excel is a wonderful tool and seo for Excel (100% is more than enough for lot of seo wors)