How do they rank how popular a website is?
May 20, 2008 8:00 PM   Subscribe

How do they rank how popular a website is? Which one of the services is the most accurate between Alexa, Quantcast, Hitwise, Compete, Google, etc...?
posted by shshao to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most ... accurate? That's a strange metric. They all measure more or less different things.

Since there is no Platonic ideal website telling us exactly how popular a website is, we're stuck with imperfect systems that measure things that can make sense but are limited in several obvious ways. For instance, people can use AdBlock to prevent hit counters from incrementing, or Alexa only measures websites based on the browsing habits of people who install the Alexa software, and Google only measures how websites are referred to by other websites. There really is no way to have a control measurement telling us which of these is really a better way to measure "popularity", although some of them may be better ways of measuring something concrete you can count.
posted by dhartung at 11:00 PM on May 20, 2008

To gather your data you have a choice of trusting whoever controls the log files for the site, a subjective survey by some of the users, a panel of users who have agreed to give their opinion or a company that has basically installed spyware to track users behaviour. All of these sources have problems in terms of sampling errors or reliability. Then you need to aggregate data across all the different sites and agree exactly what you mean by "popular" in the first place.

Advertisers, I think, traditionally look at popularity in terms of "reach". If your target market is "males 16-24" then you will want to know the reach, expressed as a percentage of this target market, that placing your advert in a particular place over a particular time will have.
posted by rongorongo at 1:20 AM on May 21, 2008

Accurate compared to what? The thing is, there's no-one with a complete view of internet activity. Each of these companies can more accurately reflect the usage of their own users
that any other company.
posted by winston at 9:42 AM on May 21, 2008

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