How does your website rank?

By | June 12, 2007

Want to know how you compare with other websites?

Well, there are several ways to find out. While none of them are perfect, all of them can give you an insight into the popularity of your website compared to others. And, as I will demonstrate in another article with a real website’s statistics, the results can vary widely.

Many people know about Google PageRank and Alexa, but there are other services out there that also provide rankings. These include Compete, Ranking.com and Quantcast, among others.

In this article, we will look at the services that are available and how they get their figures, as well as how to download their toolbars so you may help rank the websites you visit (including your own).

Ranking Methodology

Except for Google PageRank, which uses a 0-10 scale, each service ranks each site based on popularity, with #1 being the most popular website (currently yahoo.com).

Each services uses slightly different methods for calculating rank. Most of them use panels to sample internet usage, and then estimate what a site’s rank would be for the whole internet. They typically do this by having users install a toolbar that then tracks their usage. This is similar to telephone surveys you get sometimes, or voter exit polls. They don’t ask everyone, but they still estimate what everyone thinks based on the sample. This means there is always going to be a margin of error.

Quantcast is unique in some respects. For one, it allows publishers to add a tracking code to their website to report actual statistics instead of those estimated by Quantcast. Also, unlike the others, Quantcast does not have a toolbar but instead gets its data from various sources such as advertisers, publishers, ISPs and advertising networks.

Google PageRank is also unique in that it doesn’t actually give you the rank of your website, but instead ranks individual pages. Some people do not realize this and think the PageRank on their home page is the rank for their website, which is not true. Internal pages frequently have better PageRanks because they are more specific. RageRank also is not pure popularity, like the other ranking systems. Google also looks at the page’s relevance and quality and links in and out. Because PageRank is so different from the others, it is almost in a different class completely.

A summary of the methods used by each service:

  • Alexa – Toolbar-based Panel
  • Compete – Toolbar-based Panel
  • Ranking.com – Toolbar-based Panel
  • Quantcast – Website Analytics and other sources
  • PageRank – Spiders, Toolbar-based Panel, Website Analytics and other sources

As you can see, Google probably gathers the most data to determine ranks, but is also less revealing than the others as to a website’s rank compared to others. But part of that is because PageRank was designed to make Google’s results more accurate, while the others are designed to measure popularity and traffic patterns.

Vote for Your Own Website!

One thing that is interesting about these toolbar based panels, is that you can join the panel, which then influences the results. By visiting websites (and your own websites), you are essentially voting for them in a giant popularity contest. This means that it is possible to inflate your ranking slightly, especially if you rank very low (i.e. in the millions). This is why rankings 100,000 or higher are considered less than accurate. Rankings between 1 and 100,000 are harder, but not impossible, to manipulate.

You can become part of the panels by downloading and installing the toolbars below.

Combined Toolbar Downloads:

  • SearchStatus (Firefox only) – Toolbar with Alexa, PageRank and Compete.

Individual Toolbar Downloads:

Keep in mind that by downloading and installing these toolbars, you are essentially letting them track your usage so they can rank the websites. If privacy is your concern, then you probably should not download these.

In our next article, we will compare rankings on a live website and compare each more thoroughly.


 

Scott M. Stolz

Entrepreneur, Educator, Author.
Helping people embrace life's opportunities.™