An Important Tool: Website Traffic Ratings
The Websearch toolbar is automatically fitted into your internet toolbar. Rank is shown along with a star rating.
By Bruce McKinney
Everyday on the internet when people visit sites the contacts are recorded. Data is not being maintained on who visits which site (unless you have spy software on your system that, with or without your permission, is recording this information), only the "hits"or electronic contacts are recorded. These counts are tabulated by various companies and are available for free. They tell us where the traffic is on the net. These counts do not directly convert into dollars because they reflect only visits, not interaction but they are nevertheless very useful, particularly for gauging comparative activity. Think of them as heartbeats.
These days there are millions of sites. Keeping count of how many "contacts" are occurring at each of them is a daunting task. Anyone who uses the Google toolbar can have a Page Rank indicator on their screen that shows how Google rates your site based on a variety of factors. This is more a qualitative and quantitative ranking.
Another toolbar option for activity measurement is available from www.websearch.com and it is very useful. It only works on Microsoft operating systems however. For sites among the top 500,000 on the net they provide a comparative numeral rating. They aren’t able to record every click on the web but they record enough clicks, from a variety of search engines, that they can estimate both who is in the first 500,000 and what their relative rankings are. At the end of this article I’ll show you how to add this toolbar option to your browser if you are interested to try it.
Among the auction houses here are ratings recorded on June 27th using WebSearch's software. As you read this they will have already changed at least marginally. As in golf the low score wins: the higher the rating the lower the number. eBay, the online auction juggernaut, is by far the highest ranked firm in this sector. Their formula is unique. They sell thousands of generally but not exclusively lower priced books every day and books are only a small part of what they sell. In addition to these auctions houses there are more than 40 others that are not currently receiving a rating.
| eBay|| 8|
|Skinner, Inc. ||151,318|
|Doyle, New York || 209,773|
| Old World Auctions|| 247,484|
| PIASA || 258,514|
|Sanford Alderfer|| 385,666|
|Heritage Map Museum || 462,800|
|Bloomsbury|| Not Rated|
Waverly Auctions||Not Rated|
John's Western Gallery||Not Rated|
Of the traditional auction houses most sell other things besides books so PBA, as a book site is actually a stronger "book" site than is first apparent because all the houses above it are also selling other things and receiving some of their 'hits' for them. Frequency of sales is also a factor. An auction house that conducts twelve auctions a year should eventually have many more hits than an auction house that holds six. The scale of a business will ultimately be reflected in these counts. Most sites are not rated, simply because they are not yet within the first 500,000 in terms of activity. Many in time will be.
These WebSearch ratings reflect activity over several months, not only the present moment so improvement and decline register slowly. As well, every day thousands of sites are internally revised to increase their competitiveness. This is a process of endless tinkering. Successful websites are snakes, not statues.
A low rating (a high number) may also reflect site problems. Without naming names we'll just say that all sites do not perform equally. Some websites are using state of the art software and others only cans and wires. Visitors believe they can identify under-engineered sites because, for them, these sites are consistently slow and sometimes awkward. In fairness to website operators I need to point out that a user's operating system, their settings and their connection are frequent sources of problems. Generally, if a user doesn't have problems on the web but has a problem with a site, it is a site problem. However, just because a user can retrieve email does not mean their computer and browser are properly configured. Email is relatively simple. Net searching and the resultant interaction with sites often are not.
An Important Tool: Website Traffic Ratings
On Websearch click on Download the Websearch Toolbar. Click on STAND ALONE INSTALLER.
Internet users are very unforgiving. The rule is "You be good or I be gone". The better site developers understand this and work to resolve user issues systematically. They also understand that perfection is only a theoretical state. So when you don’t see a good rating on a site it can mean many things. Like surfing a wave, it's difficult to stay on top. The more successful sites provide fast, useful information and work across the entire spectrum of operating systems and versions. Everyone is in a constant state of becoming. There are no exceptions and the race never ends. High ratings are earned.
In any event traffic count is a good way for site managers to evaluate at least a portion of their internet business performance. Server speed, scale of connections, the quality of the software code, content and customer service are all elements in a successful web-based business. For those who list books to sell on line these websearch numbers offer a blunt appraisal of relative site strength. But as you now begin to understand, they are only part of the story.
Understandably Sotheby's and Christies are the most visited traditional auction houses on the net. They have both scale and money to develop sophisticated web-strategies. We cover almost 70 auction houses on AE but I'm listing only twenty here. There are many others, many in the previously stated condition of becoming, but compared to these companies and of course to the net's powerhouses they are far down the list of "most visited". Many are still just emerging because, for the world of old and rare books, the internet has been an opportunity that only now is becoming a necessity. In the world of books Amazon at number 3 among all websites is a true giant. eBay, in the eighth position, is huge as well.
Next we'll look at some sites that sell books on the net. Some are listing sites for third parties and some sell only under their own label. They often sell both new and used material and other categories of merchandise as well. These sites are emerging internet superstores and they will sell what their customers will buy. They are reverse engineered businesses built upon customer demand rather than upon management directive.
ABE books, 5th on this list, is the largest used book seller. Others that primarily sell used books are marked in yellow. Alibris is the most effective at marketing themselves on the net and Powell's Books of Portland, Oregon is also very good. The unmarked firms sell primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, new material. Here is how they rank:
One dealer recently said that if he puts his books on a few of the listing sites he is covering the market. He needs to be sure he is using at least one top rated site. It isn't just names, its numbers too.
| Amazon|| 3|
| eBay|| 8|
| Barnes & Noble||290|
| Alapage|| 3,670|
| ABE Books||3,747|
| Powell's|| 4,159|
| The BookCellar||137,150|
| Choosebooks||152,578 |
| Maremagnum|| 382,111|
These days the traditional book scout has morphed into a search engine. Here are four of them. Bibliofind searches only on Amazon while the other three search a diverse group of book listing sites. These services are the most efficient way to look at many sites simultaneously but they don’t always show every match on every site they search. At 217,769 Usedbooksearch.uk is a distant fourth.
Then there are the book related organizations. The Library of Congress doesn't advertise but most people know about it. The Huntington Library outranks all but a few of the auction houses and would rank 13th among the book site search engines. The Americana Exchange is the leading subscription based research site in the book world.
| Bibliofind.com (amazon)|| 22|
ILAB and the ABAA are book seller organizations whose members list their books for sale on these sites. The American Antiquarian Society is a leading organization for those who love American history and the books that relate to it, the Bibliographical Society is an association for those who enjoy the details and the often arcane aspects of books and the Grolier Club is the leading book collector association in the United States. Rarebooks.fr is a subscription based site for those conducting research relating to old and rare books. Of course there are other book giants on the internet. They are called libraries and their numbers are generally very large. Their numbers, however, tend to be merged with the institutions of which they are a part.
| Library of Congress||920|
| Huntington Library||68,133 |
| American Antiquarian Soc.|| 292,600|
| Bibliographical Society of A.|| n.r. |
| Grolier Club||n.r. |
| Rarebooks.fr||n.r. |
We are very fortunate to have ranking tools to help site developers, book dealers and internet users understand the relative strength of book related sites. If, over time the numbers are improving, the site is invariably improving so looking at the numbers is a good way to understand how the field is progressing. Here is how you download the websearch tool bar to your computer.
Click on this link or use a Google search for www.websearch.com Then click on Download the WebSearch Toolbar or click on this link: http://www.websearch.com/toolbar/tb landing.aspx?id=50024&t=1&ut=1 . Click on DOWNLOAD NOW! Then click on the stand-alone installer. The download will take only a few seconds. Then follow the directions in the dialog box to OPEN and then follow the steps. Finally, remember this software only works on Microsoft operating systems.