AE Monthly

Articles - June - 2004 Issue

An Important Tool: Website Traffic Ratings

Websearch1

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.

Auctions:
eBay 8
Sotheby's24,437
Christie's27,530
Butterfield's 46,280
Skinner, Inc. 151,318
Bonham's153,401
PBA (Pacific)174,821
Doyle, New York 209,773
Old World Auctions 247,484
PIASA 258,514
Dorotheum 352,450
Sanford Alderfer 385,666
Freeman's 411,830
Holabird 430,629
Swann452,899
Heritage Map Museum 462,800
Eldred's 496,349
Bloomsbury Not Rated
Waverly AuctionsNot Rated
John's Western GalleryNot 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.

AE Monthly


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