Site Structure: Finding The Needle In The Haystack

As the idiom goes, trying to find a needle in haystack is very hard. In this case, the needle is a single page, with the haystack being an entire 500+ page site. Why do I need to find just one page? Well, it is not the page itself I am trying to find, rather where that page is linked from. As any proper SEO knows, it is very important to get the structure of your site as close to search-friendly heaven as possible, right from the get go. The reason for this is because it is similar to building the frame to a house, if you screw up the frame, the rest of the house, no matter how well built, is more likely to fall. Going back to 'fix' those issues later is extremely tough and often more costly. In this case we had to go the tough route and restructure the site after the fact. With some pages, they are very easy to find where they are linked from, or they just make sense in the grand scheme of things when looking at the content. Others, however, are not that easy to find. Since we were not given access to the content management system we had to think outside the box.

The Orphan Page Finder Solution

Here at Top Floor Technologies, we have access to many tools and many bright and talented individuals. One of the tools that we use on a regular basis is http://www.opensiteexplorer.org. It is a tool that has its own linking metrics and is provided by SEOmoz. Long story short this is the tool that saved valuable time for us and helped us find the needle in the haystack. The main reason opensiteexplorer.org is used by people in our industry is for competitor analysis. All you need to do is enter the competitor URL and hit the big green button. You also have the ability to compare two domains. We really love it and use it all the time for this. However, there is a nifty trick that this little tool can perform using its 9.2 Trillion link index. It can find where the one lonely link exists and thus, finds the needle in the haystack for us. Granted you have to be part of their index and you probably have to pay for the pro level to get that fine of detail. We were lucky and had both covered in this regard.

How Did We Do It?

There are a couple of ways this can be done using opensiteexplorer.org. Option 1: FireFox Addon Toolbar Extension This is the quickest and easiest way. By having this installed and being logged into the pro account you instantly get access to all of the link metrics for each and every page you visit. In order to find out which links point to the page in question, simply go to that page and click the "Analyze Page" button. This will bring up a window that contains all of the back link information that SEOmoz has on that page and domain. In this case we are only really interested in the PA stuff or a.k.a Page Authority. Once that is opened up click the button at the bottom of the chart, this will take you to opensiteexplorer.org to get a full analysis of the links. We can then filter the list of links to those which only come from with in the site or otherwise known as internal links. If we only see one, or two, we have our culprit and we found our needle. Option 2: Is the same thing, you just start at opensiteexplorer.org! In the end opensiteexplorer.org saved a serious amount of time.  If we didn't have that we would have had to try to look through each and every page with a fine tooth comb, but probably would have still missed some of them.  So, if you find yourself stuck trying to find how a particular page is being linked to on a site give opensiteexplorer.org a shot.

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