Categorized | Opinion

Site Ranking Statistics Explained By an Expert (Me)

Blue Virginia is obviously quite disturbed at the loss of traffic experienced there of late and apparently spent a lot of time trying to save face.

In a completely laughable attempt at self puffery and ego maintenance, Lowell Feld looks to in the field of web analytic analysis, for self validation.

Alexa has been doing this several years longer than Compete and is more trusted worldwide as a measure of statics. And among IT professionals (I have over 35 years in the field and was first published while working at University of Richmond in 1992), Alexa is the clear winner.

Now, to be sure, both have their fans and neither is perfect.

But as an expert in the IT field, I can assure you one of the best tests to find out which external analysis is most accurate is by a direct comparison to your server’s log files. The reason Alexa is the best one is that it is scary close to the internal server counts on the twenty-something domains I administer and update professionally. And these are on several different hosting providers.

Now, even more amazing is a blurb on’s site about why their numbers will not match your server’s count of hits. Perhaps amateurs like Feld find that perfectly reasonable, but it is sort of like the old days when the power company would estimate your electrical usage. Only they never tried to claim that the meter was not accurate and their magical estimat was right on the money.

Really. That alone is reason enough for a professional to chortle a bit and move on to another option.

In addition, Compete’s  accuracy for lefty political blogs is likely skewed by the fact that the large, high volume liberal sites like KOS, HuffPo and the others Feld mentioned encourage (at least from time to time) participation in the toolbar application program to boost their own statistical standing. But rather than being randomly distributed, Compete selects the participants, no doubt with a nod to their biggest customers.

Now the number of visitors with the toolbar installed gives a decided boost to the rankings and counts of both Alexa and Compete statistics. Compete puts a LOT more weight on the data gathered from their hand manipulated demographics, while Alexa relies totally on the randomness of the internet.

From Alexa:

What is Data Normalization?

Alexa’s ranking methodology corrects for a large number of potential biases and calculates the ranks accordingly. We normalize based on the geographic location of site visitors. We correct for biases in the demographic distribution of site visitors. We correct for potential biases in the data collected from our Alexa Toolbar to better represent those types of site visitors who might not use an Alexa Toolbar.

Unfortunately, Compete uses a different strategy:

How does Compete normalize its data?

Compete applies a rigorous normalization methodology, leveraging scientific multi-dimensional scaling to ensure metrics are representative of the U.S. Internet population. Compete members are recruited through multiple sources to ensure a diverse distribution of user types and to facilitate de-biasing across the data sources. Compete’s standard normalization process is applied to our monthly and weekly metrics. Compete relies on share based measures to report its daily metrics.

Compete sounds remarkably similar to the now debunked  Global Warming data. “Well, it should have been warmer, so we adjusted the numbers to get the answers we wanted.”

So, Alexa normalizes the data while Complete manipulates their toolbar users by demographics, attempting to allow input from their idea of typical representation of the internet population.

I shudder at the thought of hanging chads and holding users up to the light to divine intent.

Normalization through forced manipulation of humans vs. normalization of the actual data without human manipulation and bias.


I can see why a liberal would love Internet Socialism at it’s finest complete with racial and sexual segregation and whatever demographic hocus-pocus they can manipulate.

And there is also a third player in the remote statistical analysis field. Quantcast began operation in 2006 and uses even more interesting algorithms to figure traffic and rank.

I thought I could use Quantcast to triangulate the accuracy of the other two. Sort of the rubber match if you will. Unfortunately, BlueVirginia is not even ranked there. Nothing. Nada.

It is pretty clear. Alexa is the most accurate available measure of rank and traffic between the two.

But, at BlueVirginia, accuracy is not something that is terribly important to Lowell Feld.

And speaking of racism, did you see Lowell Feld’s racist Tweet?

Boy I bet he is wishing he hadn’t done that about now.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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