The Securities and Exchange Commission, expanding its push to make corporate compensation more transparent to investors, posted a link on its Web site that reveals how much companies pay their top executives.

The Internet tool has pay data for 500 of the largest U.S. companies, the SEC said. It lets shareholders review information on salary, bonuses and stock options, and compare totals with compensation at other firms.

"Gone are the complicated data expeditions that forced investors to hunt through financial statements," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in a statement. "The result is quicker and better analysis, and better-informed shareholders."

The move is part of Cox's effort to make it easier for shareholders to analyze pay across companies and scrutinize whether managers deserve their pay. In July 2006, the SEC approved the most extensive overhaul of compensation rules in more than a decade, requiring companies to disclose total figures for their five highest-paid executives.

The new Internet link lets investors scrutinize how much a controversial tweak to the rules affects pay totals.

Initially, the SEC required companies to disclose stock-option compensation based on awards granted during a given year. The agency changed the rules in December 2006 to give firms the choice of disclosing options in the year they become vested.

Shareholder groups, including the Council of Institutional Investors, said the revision would allow companies to report lower pay totals by spreading compensation expenses over several years. The SEC's new online tool enables investors to analyze pay using both methods.