By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Looking for reliable site-traffic data

What’s your favorite way of getting Web-site traffic data? I’m looking for something reliable and, if not free, then at least incredibly cheap.

I’ve played with Quantcast and Quantcast is supposedly more reliable, but only if the site owner registers, or “Quantifies.”

Nielsen and comScore are paid services.

Does Google offer anything? It doesn’t seem to, but maybe I’m just looking in the wrong place.

Clarification: Sorry. I see from the comments I’m getting that I did a poor job of explaining what I’m looking for. I want data on other people’s Web sites, not mine.


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  1. Why not Google Analytics? It’s free and reliable.

    I’m actually using both Google Analytics and Quantcast (“quantifying” involves putting a line of JavaScript on your pages, same as Google Analytics). Their numbers match up fairly well for page views, but Quantcast always reports far fewer unique visitors than Google.

  2. lkcape

    Google Analytics.

    Allows detail looks at a variety of of statistics.

    If your web host has it, have him activate a Control Panel for you. In that is a function called ASWSTATs which gives you another set of detailed usage data.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Adam and Ikcape: I didn’t explain myself well at all. I’m looking for data on other people’s Web sites, not mine. I use SiteMeter and WordPress’s own system, which are more than sufficient for my purposes.

  3. If you’re just looking for rough comparisons (apples to apples) without putting money of the precision of the results, then either Quantcast or Compete are fine. I’ve found that Quantcast gives you a bit more useful information up front; Compete is quicker to demand money.

    Compete also tends to give much higher unique visitor numbers (on the tests I’ve run recently).

  4. Your prior posters are correct with both Quantcast and Compete. I have about 20+ sites myself, and another few dozen clients, and both of those measurments are way off, unfortunately. If you’re looking to measure a given site vs another I could probably help you using various other tools. If you looking for position related to specific search criteria, same thing. You can look at page rank, positioning, paid positions, the average pay-per price for a given term, etc.. But I have not found a reliable tool to measure other website’s traffic. If there’s something specific you’re seeking, other than a “number”, shoot me an email and i’d be happy to let you know what I come up with.

  5. Nick Name

    Data on other people’s websites is a closely guarded secret in most cases. I doubt you’d find anything really reliable that they wouldn’t tell you themselves.

  6. Ah! What Jason said. The main issue is that, yes, Quantcast is more accurate with sites running their code.

  7. I should explain that the Google stuff is search volume, but it’s been shown to be a somewhat reasonable proxy for site sizing/traffic.

  8. LFNeilson

    Off-season, our traffic counts are pretty low. The meter reader came down the road today and tripled it.

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