You’d think with all the issues that currently plague the problem, SOMEONE would have come up with a solution…
What problem is that, you ask? It’s the Alexa Problem.
Right now, folks turn to Alexa to gauge how popular their site is. They do this in spite of the fact that Alexa has a few issues:
1. It requires the Alexa Toolbar, which most folks don’t have installed.
2. The folks that do have it installed are folks like SEOs or other folks very interested in tracking a given site’s popularity.
3. Alexa tracks only top domains, so Astrology.yahoo has the same rank as News.yahoo and the same rank as the main page of Yahoo!. That’s obviously wrong.
So Alexa results are far from an accurate sampling of random internet users, they’re a report of the actions of a biased set of users using a specific tool. It’s like determining who should be president by only allowing people who drive a particular brand of car the right to vote. Any pollster would toss Alexa results out without even a microseconds hesitation, yet they persist. Hell, i dismiss any references to Alexa the same way that i dismiss glowing reviews from David Manning.
The problem is that Alexa, as flawed and biased as it may be, is the only tool that currently provides any clue about traffic. Google Trends doesn’t, and honestly, suffers many of the same problems (no actual numbers, domain collapsing and noise, limited audience, etc.). Granted, Trends is more about exposing search terms rather than domain traffic. It’d track people coming through google entering in “unitedheroes.net”, but not folks looking for things on my site.
Likewise, we can’t really set up a service that asks sites to report back the number of visitors, since they’ll lie.
i almost wish that someone would set up an open source version of Alexa. Something where folks could grab a little anonymizing plugin that would simply report back a visited URL. Yeah, people would spam it, but you can do things on the server that can detect and control that.
i’m sure it’s a harder problem, but c’mon, it’s a wide open market.