Compete.com vs Quantcast.com vs Alexa.com vs ...

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." --Disraeli

In a recent post, I ended up getting into some off -topic comment flaming with a reader who it turns out (IMHO) really wanted to play the "my site is more popular than your site" game. Really, this kind of "mental masturbation" is sort of childish. But, it did make me think, and I thank him for that.

In the traffic measurement game, there are some upstarts (like Quantcast, Compete and others) that don't seem too different from Alexa.

Based on the evidence I've looked at from some of the pundits, there isn't much indication to suggest that Compete or Quantcast are better than Alexa. And we all know that Alexa's data has flaws. If you analyze on toolbar installs, these new services certainly have less data. They come up with "ISP relationships", "Panels" and other inventions to show that they can compete, but I don't necessarily buy it.

Apparently Quantcast attempts to combine various data sources to arrive at more accurate rankings, including demographic information. To help in this regard, sites are encouraged to install some javascript code. Realistically -- who can expect to get every site to install this code?

I experimented with Quantcast, installing their code, and the site I put it on then had an increase in ranking. To me, this indicates that either the original or the "after javascript" numbers are inaccurate.

Some pundits have given Compete.com positive comments. But Matt Cutts of Google says no.

Regarding third-party traffic estimates and actual traffic, Technorati links win as the best predictor. Personally, I have found Google Analytics traffic stats to be very close to actual IIS logs in the small comparisons I've made. And that's a free service. It's just that you can't see my stats - only I can.

I think the bottom line here is that some services that aren't really supposed to be traffic measurement services are ending up predicting actual traffic better than those who make the claim that they "are" traffic measurement services.

Personally, I think Google is the best measurement of site popularity (traffic or not). They have the biggest installed toolbar base, and they index more "stuff" (backlinks, etc.) than anybody else. And, they have a proven measurement system. It's called PageRank. All the hot-shot SEO people hate them, but I think PageRank is about the best indicator out there. It's objective, it has been tuned to reject SEO "spam", and it has withstood the test of time.

And with Google dominating SERPs with up to 90% of my search engine traffic, I want my PageRank to be just as high as I can get it, thank you!

Where I work, at a NYSE listed IT consultancy, we're building a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practice and I get to use my programming skills to build some exceptionally cool measurement tools. Business is literally flying in the door.

It took Robbe Morris and I since the year 2004 (when PageRank first became known) to get Eggheadcafe.com up to a PR 6. That's not bad for a niche site that only deals with developer topics. This UnBlog, which is much younger, is a PR 5 currently. But you have to understand that PageRank is "Logarithmic" - there is a huge difference between a 5 and a 6.

That's my 2 cents.


  1. 1) It's easy to measure traffic on your web site.
    The goal is, of course, to get traffic numbers of others' web site.
    That makes it possible to compare how your business is doing versus competitors. "Other web site traffic statistic" also helps to make decisions about what stocks are good to buy and what stocks are good to sell.

    2) Page Rank is somewhat relevant to the rank of web page in Google Search results.
    However correlation between Page Rank and web site traffic.

    Still, it's good to have high Page Rank.

  2. "Page Rank is somewhat relevant to the rank of web page in Google Search results".
    No, PageRank is TOTALLY relevant to the rank of a web page (site) in Google's search results.
    PageRank is the sole most important factor that Google has developed, and uses, in determining which search results show up in what order when you do a search.

  3. Peter,
    That's only your assumption.
    Wrong assumption :-)

    Take a look:
    1) http://www.test.com/ - PR6
    2) http://www.nerdtests.com/ft_nq.php - PageRank6
    3) http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm - PageRank7

    Your assumptions about PageRank are obsolete for many years already.

  4. Dennis I don't see the usefulness of your arbitrary "examples".

    PageRank is Google’s way of deciding a page’s importance. It matters because it is one of the factors that determines a page’s ranking in the search results. It isn’t the only factor that Google uses to rank pages, but it is an important one.

    When I state that PageRank is "totally" relevant, I don't mean it is the only thing Google uses to determine the position a search result will apear on a google search.

    They make these PageRank calculations continuously, so the figure is very recent at all times.

    Now, having said that, if you don't particularly think PageRank is important, you are free to choose to ignore it.

  5. Ok, now I and you are saying the same thing: PageRank is a factor in search results ranking [among many others].

    Bottom line: "Page Rank" predicts "web site traffic" only very approximately.

  6. No, we are not saying the same thing. I never said that PageRank predicts web site traffic.

    What I said is that Google uses PageRank as one of its most important factors in determining the position that a particular web page that it has indexed will appear in its search results.

    The actual "traffic" that a web site gets is determined by many more factors than what its Google PageRank may be.

    What IS your problem, man? Why do you seem to persist in some sort of combative blog comment scenario?

  7. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Granted this post is pretty old I noticed the flaming in the comments and thought I'd add some data. My site is a PR 0 and I still hit top 5 if not 1st position on about 75% of my keywords. And this is in the retail business in which I have plenty of competitor sites.

    This hasn't helped the traffic at all of my relatively new site though.

  8. Compete.com indicated that one of our sites, schoolofmusic.com, had 179 visitors in September 2009. We monitor visitors' IP addresses, operating systems, cities, states, page views, etc. We know beyond a doubt how many unique visitors we have. In September there were 3,103 visitors to schoolofmusic.com, not 179 as compete.com claims.

    Quantcast actually measures site visits for us also, using a tool on our site. They recorded 2,400 unique visits, although we do not have the tool on each landing page.

    Compete.com failed to count 94% of our visits. That is like Car and Driver reporting that Covettes only achieve 12 miles an hour. What good are they.