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 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:
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…
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.
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.