Using the Yahoo Site Explorer Tool

The web is wonderful. But it's also cluttered with junk. If you ran a search portal, like the folks at Yahoo, wouldn't you like it if those anonymous web site owners out in Internet-land would step forward and say, "I'm a real person. My email address is X. And this is my web site at Some-URL, and it's a real site." Wouldn't it also be nice if those authenticated site owners could tell you what parts of their sites are most important, and point out things that your indexing bot has missed.

Well, Yahoo has a Beta tool called Site Explorer that provides a whole bunch of features for web site owners. The tool was originally launched in September 2005, but Yahoo has provided a number of enhancements since then. You'll need a Yahoo account in order to login, of course, but that's both easy and free.

Authentication

Site Explorer will allow you to "authenticate" your site for Yahoo, letting them know that it's a real web site. You register your web site with them. Then they give you an authentication key to place on your web site.

You can place the key in a file, which they'll create and allow you to download. Or they'll create a meta-tag which you can place within the HTML of your site's home page. I opted to use the meta-tag for my web site, which looks like:

<META name="y_key" content="26a00908bfb6c13c" />

After setting up the authentication key for your web site, Yahoo will re-index your site within 24 hours. The authentication is verified when Yahoo detects the authenication key for the web site, since only the site owner would theoretically have access to place the key on the web site. It may be a little difficult to verify the usefulness of site authentication, but it certainly can't hurt to have Yahoo re-index my web site.

Note: (October 21, 2007) Well, I'm not sure how useful Site Explorer is. I decided to review the application to find out how well the tool was working. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that authentication had failed.

Due to poor site design, I was unable to bring up instructions on how to re-authenticate my site. Instead, I had to delete it and re-add it, so that the tool would provide me with the necessary instructions on how to authenticate it.

I was able to verify that Yahoo had indexed 96 pages on my site. However, this does me little good, since nobody has EVER found my site using Yahoo.

What Has Been Indexed?

Another feature of Site Explorer is that it also allows you to see what pages on your web site have been indexed by Yahoo. Furthermore, if Yahoo is missing some pages that you think would be worth indexing, you can submit them yourself.

Using Site Explorer, I was able to view which pages of my web site had been indexed. What I found was that, yes, Yahoo had indeed indexed my web site ... probably somewhere around September 2006. Of course, between then and the date of this blog, I've added about 60 pages worth of content in the form of articles, blog entries, case studies and presentations.

Note: (October 21, 2007) So far, the main use of Site Explorer seems to be to tailor exactly what pages on your web site are indexed. Other than that, it does not affect search rankings at all. Frankly, there's not much incentive to use the tool. Yahoo gets the benefit of streamlining their search processing, but Site Explorer seems to provide no real benefit to users.

I used the submission feature to index my Site Map web page, which links to every web page on my web site that I would like to have indexed.

Getting My Badge

A new feature of Site Explorer is something that Yahoo calls a "badge". It turns out that a badge is a dynamically created banner that shows viewers how many sites are linking to your web site. Here's what it looks like.

Yahoo Badge

Sadly, as of the time that this blog entry was created, that is how many links there are to my site.

To add a badge, simply paste the JavaScript that Yahoo provides into an HTML page. The JavaScript code will indicate how many links there are to the web page that the code has been placed on.

For me, the badge is something that's interesting, but not a feature that I want to place on every page of my web site. So, I put the badge in my Admin area, after hacking the JavaScript to always show how many sites are linking to my home page (which is always the most linked-to web page on a site). Where I placed it, the badge serves as a reminder to me of how much work I still have to do to build traffic for my web site.

Key Links

Site Explorer
https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/mysites



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