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How do I find how much traffic any website gets?
February 4, 2007 9:22 PM   Subscribe

How do I find out how much traffic a website (one that I am not involved with) is getting?

Searching around, I see there's:
- Website Traffic Analyzer (which purports to show unique daily visitors.)
- TrafficEstimate.com (which shows visits over 30 days.)

Ideally, I'd like something in between, like say unique visits over a week. I'd be willing to pay for it too, if it was um, next to free.

I also see Alexa, but it looks like it's mostly rankings and reach, not visit counts per se (but I very well could be missing key features of Alexa).

Any other suggestions?
posted by kongg to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
quantcast.com
posted by Dave Faris at 9:44 PM on February 4, 2007


I find most of these tools provide wildly inaccurate information about my own site. I am not going to put their code on my site to do tracking, but I honestly say that they show only a sliver of my visits. So I don't know how good they would be for other sites.
posted by acoutu at 10:14 PM on February 4, 2007


Yes, all of these tools are pretty far off on my site, often by an order of magnitude or more. Maybe this is a bit obvious, but do they have a sitemeter link, or other such tracking applet running on their page? If so, you can click through and see their stats.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:47 PM on February 4, 2007


Speaking as the owner of the server on which my website is hosted, said server sitting on the table about three feet in front of me, there is no way for anyone except me and Comcast to know who is visiting my site. And I very much doubt that Comcast is collecting that kind of information.

Anyone else who claims to know is lying, or has gained that information illicitly.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:06 PM on February 4, 2007


Without either A) control of the site or B) control of a statistically valid sample of all browsers in existance, what you seek is not possible to obtain. Since you rule out A, the only other way to do this is exactly what Alexa does: beg as many users as possible to all install some kind of toolbar/plugin that phones home regularly and tells your service what websites they were visiting. Not only is this a huge privacy intrusion, it's also very hard to get a statistically valid sample. So even Alexa data is highly suspect.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:07 AM on February 5, 2007


Oh, well I suppose there is also C) monitor/sniff all traffic coming and going from the server that hosts the site. But unless you happen to work at the same datacenter and you have no moral scruples, that option is right out as well.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:08 AM on February 5, 2007


Ask whoever runs the site. If you are an actual or potential competitor be prepared to swap information as part of the deal.
posted by rongorongo at 3:31 AM on February 5, 2007


Thanks everyone for the advice/suggestions. The other day I was looking at rollingstone.com and they claim they get 2.2 million unique visitors a month. That seems like an improbable high amount to me, and the estimator sites above peg it at anywhere from 500k to a million a month (which is still a lot).

But if these predictor sites under report the true numbers a site gets, maybe 2.2 million unique visits a months is about right. Kind of amazing really.

The print version of Rolling Stone has 1.5 million copies, and it's verifiable by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Radio and TV rely on the Nielsons to track popularity, which basically is run like Alexa - they hope they have enough of a sample of the total audience to make an educated guess on just how many people are watching/listening.

It seems when it comes to internet popularity, you have to either trust what a website claims or assume that something like Alexa is close enough.
posted by kongg at 8:35 AM on February 5, 2007


I don't think that's crazy at all for RS.com--not in the slightest. Seems about right in comparison with other publications. I imagine their page-view-per-visitor ratio is low, however.

Alexa relies on people with installed tracking software, which, I think, only works on people browsing with IE for starters. It's, eh, an approximation. You could check Nielsen Net Ratings but they probably have nothing.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:01 PM on February 5, 2007


"Unique visitor" is a term that deceives. "2.2 million unique visitors" doesn't mean that they have a readership of 2.2 million people.

As best I can determine, a "unique visitor" count is incremented once for all the accesses that a single person makes during one visit to the site. But if that person goes away and then comes back again a few hours later, they are another "unique visitor", not the same one.

2.2 million "unique visitors" per month could mean a couple of hundred thousand readers who visit an average of 10 times per month, or 55,000 readers who visit an average of 40 times per month. (Or 35,000 readers who visit an average of twice per day.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2007


As best I can determine, a "unique visitor" count is incremented once for all the accesses that a single person makes during one visit to the site. But if that person goes away and then comes back again a few hours later, they are another "unique visitor", not the same one.

No. A unique visitor count looks at the number of unique IP addresses that access a site over a period (day, week, month, etc). If you go back eighty-three times in a month, you're a single unique. If you go there once by mistake and never return, you're a single unique.
posted by humuhumu at 1:39 PM on March 4, 2007


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