Saturday, December 18, 2010

Traffic Rankings–Part of the Picture

by Linda Mackenzie
Some guy called me up to tell me that my website statistics were wrong. So because we are a conscious business I looked at the actual site visit and page view numbers provided to me from my website provider and found that they were completely different and much, much higher. We are not signed up for any Analytics program such as Google Analytics or Quantcast so I wondered - where are these traffic rating sites getting their website numbers for my site?

I researched the site where the guy got my bogus numbers from and then many more traffic ranking sites. This is what I think I found, since most of the traffic ranking sites do not give you where they get their numbers from - by which they use to report my numbers…

Major Search Engine Companies like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others get their data and page rankings from impressions and conversion rates of people looking for or going to your site. (In Humanese this means if they type in your website name to look for your site and/or if they went to your site after they logged in to their site). However the numbers provided are only from the data from that specific search engine company. So my thoughts are:
-- Most important - they are not looking at all the actual traffic to my site
-- After a user finds my site they may not “search” for it again and can go directly to my site.
-- These numbers are not tracked by the search engine company. If they are, without my permission, there may be some privacy issues being violated here.
-- They reflect numbers only from their search engine site, not other search engine sites
-- The traffic they report is weighted pertaining to their specific criteria

The Conclusion: Search Engine Traffic Rankings are only part of the picture. They DO NOT and CAN NOT give you the whole picture of the real traffic of any website, except their own.

Major Web Analytic Companies - When you sign up for Google Analytics, Quantcast or any other web site analytics package they give you code to put on your site so they can track your website statistics. Sometimes you need to place the code on every page you want tracked. They then get their numbers for your website, not your web provider. This is slightly better but it still relies on how they weight their data and on what criteria they use to determine your data.

The Conclusion: Search Engine Traffic Analytics Rankings are only part of the picture. They MAY give you the whole picture of the real traffic of a website if the criteria is set up that way.

Alexa’s Traffic Ranks are based on the traffic data provided by Alexa Toolbar users and data collected from other, diverse sources (certainly that does not include everyone on the web). The Rankings are determined by the number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day and as far as pageviews it is determined by the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. Multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are a single Pageview.

The Conclusion: Alexa DOES NOT and CAN NOT give you the whole picture of the real traffic of any website, except their own.

Independent Traffic Ranking & SEO Sites are either using one or more of the specific search engine statistics (which are only part of the picture) or their own analytics software which you either must sign up for or sometimes pay to use (which again is only as good as the criteria that the analytics software is set up for).

The Conclusion: Most Independent Traffic Ranking Sites DO NOT and CAN NOT give you the whole picture of real traffic on any website, except their own. The Independent Traffic Ranking sites with their own analytic packages may give you the whole picture but is dependent on whether you signed up directly with them and what criteria they use to determine traffic.

So, how can someone get actual traffic of a website? Ask the owner of the site. He or she is the only one that gets the actual statistics from their web provider. Web Providers are the only Source of all real data of any site. If the web provider is reputable and honest they will provide the owner of the site with real stats. Of course we have to remember that the web site providers have their own criteria for determining actual data too.

Do website stats correlate to radio listeners on an internet radio site? As far as my radio listener stats they DO NOT come from website statistics whether it be site visits or page views. These website statistics have to do with who is coming to my site but NOT the actual numbers of listeners. Those numbers come directly from my streaming aggregator and (if provided) from our over 52 distribution channels which syndicate/simulcast Radio Network 24/7.

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