Articles on Alexa

I’m often asked to evaluate or analyze websites that I have no relation with. Perhaps it’s a site developed by a competitor or a site we’re looking to get some quick insight on before speaking with a potential client.  While there’s no way to get very accurate traffic statistics without having access to the site’s server logs or some other analytics, there are some nice tools to give us a glimpse of the traffic levels and general visitor demographics. Here’s a quick list of some of the tools I use.

Google Page Rank

Most people reading this site are probably very familiar with Google Page Rank (PR). It’s arguably the most important ranking for a website. Google ranks all website on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most traffic). What determines a site’s Page Rank. A long complex algorithm that we’re not smart enough to understand, but essentially it’s based on the number and quality of sites that link to the site in question. Most sites on the Web don’t even receive enough traffic to rank at level 1. To put this in perspective here are some Google PR’s for some huge sites:

  • Wikipedia & Digg: 8
  • Twitter: 9
  • CNN and Facebook: 10

There’s a number of free tools for checking PR on the Web. I just use the PR tool display built into Google Toolbar, so on any site I instantly see the associated PR. It’s a quick way to assess the size of a website and company. For example let’s say I’m looking for an online card sorting tool. If I visit company A with a page rank of 2, and company B with a page rank of 6, I’m probably going to automatically assign a lot more credibility to site B.

Alexa Ranking

Alexa ranks sites from 1 to a lot, with 1 (Google.com) being the most visited site. I give a lot less weight to the Alexa ranking – in comparison to Google PR – but it too has its purpose. Alexa provides rankings for websites that don’t register for Google PR. I just checked out a site that has a ranking of 14,856,256 (only 14,856,255 spots to go guys…), which obviously doesn’t fall on Google’s PR radar. Another nice thing about Alexa is that its rankings start to show up a lot faster than Google PR. As I type FatPurple is listing around 374,883 after only about a month in existence. But we’re still showing as a big fat 0 on Google PR.  Google simply takes a lot longer to rank a site. Similar to the way I have Google PR displayed in my browser, I also have Alexa ranking automatically displayed for each site I visit.

Alexa’s top 5 websites:

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Youtube
  4. Yahoo
  5. Live.com

www.Alexa.com

Compete

compete.com comparison chart

Wicked Smart Websites

Yes you need to signup for paid plans to get the best features, but Compete.com still offers some nice freebie tools. Sign up for their free account plan for some additional options. Compete lets you create some nice comparison graphics and analyze a variety of statistics. This is a much more robust tool than Alexa, and probably why they get away with charging for it.

Check out this nice comparison chart for these three college websites. Coincidentally these are three schools I overlooked in my college selection process, but I’m sure they would have loved to have me…

www.compete.com

Quantcast

quantcast-fatpurple

FatPurple's 1st month Quantcast Snapshot

Quantcast provides traffic statistics as well as basic demographic trends. We can debate the accuracy of the demographic statistics, but Quantcast is somewhat unique (and brave) in their attempt to map website demographics. If a site is “quantified” i.e. registered with Quantcast the numbers should be much more accurate.

www.quantcast.com

And Some Others

  • Yahoo Site Explorer – You can easily find the number of backlinks (inlinks) to a website. For some reason I find that this works better than Google’s backlinks search. Yahoo tends to turn up additional accurate results that Google misses.
  • Technorati blog rankings

I also recently wrote about the discrepancies and inconsistencies between these tools. This may also be of interest – Your Website Numbers are Lying to You.

What other tools am I missing? Please share if you have others you like.

Here are the most popular NFL team websites – ranked from 1st to 32nd. It’s not much of a surprise that “America’s Team” tops the list and ranked #1 in traffic for all three statistics providers. The Titans came in last. Maybe Titans fans were so disappointed with the 2009 letdown – after a great 2008 season – that they just couldn’t bear to watch (or browse). I also thought it would be interesting to include the total dollar value rank for each team.

Popularity * Team Website Alexa Traffic Rank Quantcast Rank Compete.com Unique Visits Team $ value rank **
1 Dallas Cowboys 1 1 1 1
2 Indianapolis Colts 4 4 3 15
3 Philadelphia Eagles 2 7 5 7
4 Minnesota Vikings 12 2 4 31
5 New Orleans Saints 7 3 9 22
6 San Diego Chargers 5 5 10 24
7 Green Bay Packers 11 8 2 17
8 Pittsburgh Steelers 6 9 7 16
9 Chicago Bears 3 10 12 9
10 New England Patriots 13 6 8 3
11 New York Jets 10 12 6 5
12 Washington Redskins 9 11 14 2
13 Cincinnati Bengals 8 14 15 21
14 Baltimore Ravens 16 15 11 11
15 New York Giants 15 22 13 4
16 Buffalo Bills 14 18 18 26
17 Denver Broncos 19 17 17 10
18 Cleveland Browns 24 16 20 13
19 Oakland Raiders 26 13 21 32
20 Miami Dolphins 22 20 19 18
21 Arizona Cardinals 23 23 16 23
22 Seattle Seahawks 25 19 23 20
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18 28 24 8
24 Houston Texans 28 21 22 6
25 San Francisco 49ers 17 25 32 27
26 Jacksonville Jaguars 20 32 27 29
27 Carolina Panthers 27 27 26 12
28 Atlanta Falcons 21 31 28 30
29 Kansas City Chiefs 31 29 25 14
30 Detroit Lions 30 26 30 28
31 St Louis Rams 32 24 31 25
32 Tennessee Titans 29 30 29 19

* These rankings are based on traffic rankings provided by Alexa and Quantcast, and unique visitors provided by Compete.  The numbers generally reflect the 2nd half of the 2009-2010 NFL season. As I’ve talked about here, Alexa and other traffic ranking providers can be pretty inaccurate.  But I needed some metrics to work with – otherwise the Ravens would be at the top of the list and the Steelers would be at the very bottom!

** Team $ valuations by Forbes, 2009