People involved in online marketing often face the task of analyzing the popularity of website’s competitors.
Unfortunately, without having a direct access to your competitors’ visitor statistics (which is more than likely unavailable to you) it’s impossible to say for sure how much visitors they get. Such information is kept private in most cases (for obvious reasons). Still, it’s possible to perform a general analysis and find out the amount of traffic a particular resource has in comparison with yours.
There are some tools and resources which can assist you not only with comparison for the present time, but also allow monitoring how the traffic in your niche changes within different time periods.
Alexa is a free service which allows analyzing a website’s traffic volume for the latest months. The calculation is performed basing on a data gathered using Alexa Toolbar which is installed in web browsers of millions of web surfers. The volume of a current website audience (based on the number of Alexa.com visitors) is compared with the number of monthly website visits and used to calculate the website rating.
A site with the highest number gets the No. 1 position (as for now, it is Google). Comparing your own rating with your competitors, you can get a general idea on the volume of traffic they receive. Alexa also provides some incoming links information, as well as traffic trends for a pre-defined time period.
However, please note that Alexa’s data is based solely on information from surfers using their toolbar, therefore, it shows some overestimated numbers for computer and Internet-related resources (since Alexa Toolbar is used mostly by technical professionals).
Compete is promoted as a service with the richest set of online customer analysis tools in industry. Indeed, all free tools provided for traffic analysis are impressive. It’s possible to check two or more websites by parameters like monthly traffic volume, search keywords, total audience, percent of US-based visitors, current advertisement activity, etc.
A registration is required to access the extended features of Compete.com, the most precious of which is the ability to follow the competitors’ activity. Moreover, Compete allows monitoring the results of your website (as well as competitors) for the unlimited amount of time. It’s also possible to export the data to CSV file and use it in external applications.
Quantcast, as well as Alexa, is a free service providing a general traffic estimates based on statistics gathered from its users. The number of unique monthly visitors for a website is calculated very carefully. We’ve tested it to analyze the traffic of some websites we’ve had statistics for, and the results were quite close to our own data. In particular, a demographic analysis also turned out to be very close to reality.
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One of the main practical rules regarding the traffic comparison using the above-mentioned tools is to compare results for your website with your own data gathered from server logs. For example, if Quantcast and Compete show 500 unique daily visitors for your website and, according to your log files, there are 1000, you may safely double the numbers for your competitors as well.
Of course, you won’t be able to get exact statistics any way, however, using such tools you can still manage to find out the relative positions of competitor resources in comparison with yours.
In general, no web analytic solution provides completely precise data in any case. Still, is that so important? It’s often quite enough to see the general picture of your niche to increase the effectiveness of your online marketing efforts.