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How to Spot the Real Web Winners
Jesse Berst, Editorial Director<BR><I>ZDNet AnchorDesk</I>
Tuesday, January 13, 1998
Back in the 1800s, English politician Benjamin Disraeli
first uttered the adage, "There are lies, damn lies, and
statistics." Better make that "Web statistics."
Internet research firm RelevantKnowledge has issued its
newest top Web site report, for December 1997. Click for
In it, it declares search site Yahoo! the winner -- based
upon the number of unique visitors who stopped by. RelevantKnowledge
is one of a number of services that collect data on Web
traffic data. And attempt to rank sites accordingly. But
they don't all measure the same way. Which explains why
you'll find Yahoo! in the number two spot on hot100.com
(which measures overall traffic volume). And not listed
at all on www.web100.com (which is a popularity contest).
If you are interested in which sites are doing the best,
you first need to know which ranking services to watch.
Here are several I rely on:
Media Matrix. The oldest, user-based ratings service on
the Web. It has meters installed on the computers of about
10,000 Web surfers. It observes their behavior, then extrapolates
RelevantKnowledge. Like Media Matrix, Relevant Knowledge
uses software to monitor a panel of Web surfers, in this
case a sample of about 6,000 people. It analyzes the data
to provide audience projections and demographics to its
Nielsen I/PRO. The TV-ratings people teamed up with I/PRO
to track traffic using Web site logs. Useful for determining
how well a particular site is performing (in terms of
popular pages, page views delivered, visitor origins).
However, does not provide a solid comparison of web sites
against each other.
www.100hot.com. Measures gross volume of traffic.
www.web100.com. Users vote for their favorite sites.
With so many services using so many different yard sticks,
it is easy to draw the wrong conclusions. Raw "impressions"
or "page views" provide a starting point to gauge popularity.
But you also need to consider three additional factors:
Unique visitors. Many advertisers want to get exposure
to as many different people as possible.
Pages per view. How many pages a person peruses per visit
indicates the depths of their interest in -- and loyalty
to -- a topic.
Destination or drive-by? Sites that are "destinations"
have more intrinsic value for advertisers because they
consistently deliver interested targets. Pass-through
sites deliver people who are looking for something else
-- as with the search sites -- or people who never changed
the default start page in their browser and click away
immediately. That is why you are seeing such efforts by
Yahoo!, Netscape and others to evolve from "drive-bys"
to destinations. Click for full story.
How much weight do you give Web site rankings? Which do
you trust -- and why? Scroll to the bottom of the page
and send me a TalkBack message. I'll post some of the
best responses beneath this story.
The bottom line is this: Progress is being made. But measuring
Web site performance is more complex than it appears.
When it comes to statistics, raw numbers never tell the
whole story. If you need to measure site effectiveness
for any reason -- to judge your own site, to choose where
to advertise, or just to visit the most popular sites
-- you can't rely on raw numbers alone. Just ask Benjamin
Yahoo! Still Number One - ZDNN
RelevantKnowledge - Internet
Yahoo!, MCI Team Up on Online Service - ZDNN
Analyze Your Site's Traffic - ZDNet Products Channel
Web SearchUser: The Ultimate Search Resource - ZDNet Products Channel
Why not list Alexa?
Donald A. Bandy
Tough to determine true numbers
Horace 'Kicker' Vallas
Time and path useful too
Price of free info just went up
Try Web Side Story
Death by extrapolation