How to measure the success of your website


Posted on March 8th, by Robert Rothe in Be Cautious. 5 comments

How do you know if your website is doing well? There several ways of measuring the success of a website, but not all of them are reliable. In this post we will blow the cover of two commonly used tools and give some advice tracking the success of your website efficiently and realistically.

When it comes to determining the success or value of a website you will stumble across two commonly used metrics: Google’s PageRank and Alexa Ranking. You shouldn’t use either of the two and here’s why:

Alexa Ranking

Alexa’s data is limited to people using the Alexa Toolbar. Alexa attempts to ranks websites by the amount of visitors, but does not give you reliable results. Websites are ranked top to bottom, so the lower the numerical value the better. Since Alexa is a tool that is popular with webmasters the metric is skewed towards a certain demographic among web users.

The other problem is that Alexa will track you if you are visiting your own site. If your site generally doesn’t have many visitors this will be a major factor in your Alexa Ranking. This means that you can improve your Alexa Ranking by visiting your own site. Hence Alexa is not a good way to track visitors and you should stay away from it!

Google PageRank

Google’s own metric, PageRank, is a thing from the past. Unfortunately many many webmasters still trust this outdated metric, but don’t let this deter you from moving on to more reliable strategies of measuring your site’s success.

Websites and pages are rated on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best. The ranking is influenced by links coming to a site and a few other criteria. The exact algorithm however is unknown to the public and changes frequently. A high PageRank formerly indicated a high likelihood of a website ranking well in search results pages. However PageRank has become outdated and does not correlate with actual search results. Pages with a low PageRank often outrank those with a higher value.

Another disadvantage is that it can often take up to 4 months for PageRanks to be updated. PageRank is no longer a reliable metric and if anyone tell you otherwise just refer them to this post.

Who Can You Trust? 

Who to trust? Certainly not him!

The metric that Alexa attempts to measure is the amount of visitors to your site, but the most reliable way of tracking the traffic to your site is Google Analytics. Installing Analytics on your website will allow you to accurately track visitors, impressions and it will tell you where your visitors are coming from.

PageRank attempts to measure the likelihood of your website ranking well for any search query. The very simple and better way of measuring whether your site ranks well is to look at actual search results. If you are optimizing your site for certain keywords, the ranking for these keyword is the decisive factor.

Conclusion

Alexa Rankings and PageRank are are not reliable metrics. Neither of these tools is to be trusted. If anyone argues solely based on these metrics, be aware that something might be fishy. The simple but reliable ways of rating a website’s performance are:

  1. Determining website traffic with Google Analytics
  2. Search Engine Rankings for Relevant keywords

Have you used Alexa Rankings and PageRank? We are interested to hear your opinion on these metrics. Let us know in the comment section.

About Robert Rothe

Robert Rothe has written 27 stories in this blog.

Robert is our in-house blogger and copywriter. Because great content is essential to Search Engine Optimization, he is a very busy man. When he is not racing his fingers over the keyboard, you will find him running through the mountains, paddling for waves or exploring the beautiful continent of Africa.

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  • Robert Rothe

    So who’s in defence of PageRank or Alexa?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/simonandrecox Simon Cox

    I tend to agree, PR is not a very good tool to use, Google takes to long to update it which is useless when tracking your rankings. Do you think your partner still loves you even if the last time they said it was 6 months ago?

  • http://www.biggestleaf.com Robert Bernatzeder

    Alexa rankings is something that comes up in conversation with client very often. I have tested Alexa ranking against actual visitors on one of my personal websites. Several years ago when Alexa was very popular, I downloaded the tool to my browser. In those days I visited my website on a daily basis to update it and optimize it. I used to share my Alexa ranking with friends and managed to get the ranking as low as 110’000. At the time I was receiving 800-1000 visitors to my website a month. Since then I have removed my toolbar and tested my Alexa rankings and it went up to 650’000. My Analytics results have shown the complete opposite with over 10’000 visitors per month. This shows that the only real measure of performance can be seen from your Analytics results and not from Alexa rankings.

  • http://za.linkedin.com/in/michawacquier Micha Wacquier

    Google on average updates the toolbar four times a year or every 3 months, but this update is taking a lot longer (6 months since the last update on April 3). I know many people still hold Pagerank in high regard and especially for those who are beginners in SEO.
    In the end PR doesn’t matter, it’s about the actual rankings. Actually even rankings are not the most important goal but the stats in your Analytics. Metrics such as goals and events are the holy grail of Search Engine Optimization. Read more on how to setup your goals here: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-setup-goals-in-google-analytics.html

  • Andi

    There’s a website where you cn see the page ranks of all sites you’re interested in(http://www.database-search.com/sys/pre-check-en.php).

    Maybe it’s worth having a look at it as well?

    PS: It’s only an approximate value and not 100% right.

    Keep going!