If you are the owner of a website, let’s say of a small business which has not monetized its site, or an individual in the same category, how would you know how well your website was doing, as opposed to an individual web page – in which case you are interested in finding it well positioned?
This question first occurred to the present writer, when a web author counter-criticized someone whose web site supposedly had articles which only around a dozen persons had ever read. The Alexa rank, to be described further below, was somewhere around 11.7 million.
That writer’s reasons for criticism were justified, but not quite the criticism of the ranking. True, someone on the Internet since 2007 should have done much better. During the northern Hemisphere summers, our own web site must be somewhere around there.
It was the case of a successful web writer using ad-hominem attacks against a relatively ineffectual writer who had initiated a more vitriolic screed in unacceptable terms.
We cannot say, with the following analysis, if a specific web page – or a collection of such on a given site – is well-written, interesting, plain click-bait, or what. Whether the methodology shown here is suitable for social media sites is questionable, we have found that it does not work for Twitter – rather, it is Twitter itself which is given the rating. It does, however, work for blogs. The reader could check his or her own web site, or those or others – at least at the time of this writing.
First of all, we need to find out how many websites there are. We may take it that there are just over 1 billion – in the American system, i.e. 1,000,000,000. The supposed exact number, fluctuating in real time, can, at the time of this writing, be found here. (Wait a bit for the statistic to load.) [Update: November 12, 2018: We are now only 70 million shy of 2 billion.]
As this is being written, there seem to be about 200,000,000 more than during the previous 24 hours, somewhere just over 1.3 billion.
Now, if the reader knows that the website in question receives less than 20 visits per day, this may not work. Apparently, only around 10 million sites are in the current database. More details are found here:
What the reader now needs to do is to go to http://www.alexa.com, scroll down, until the search box (somewhat masked, if the viewer looks too quickly) is found near the bottom. Here, on the right, it will say (the browser search function might be used to find this faster), “Browse top sites, or search for a site”. If alexa.com has insufficient data, it will not be found. The company is no longer as generous with its data as it was in the past, as explained in the next paragraph.
Back in 2015 and 2016, when this writer first became aware of the existence of Alexa, their database was larger, and included a figure for the improvement or degradation over the previous 3 months. For example, we first clocked in, on 20151017, at 22,409,661, which was down 11,096,346 from the preceding 3 months. That meant that we once were ranked at 11,313,315. Ratings in June of that year were in the 25 million, then improved to 13 million, and in July, to the high 11 millions. In October and November, ratings dropped again to the 23 millions. Later, apparently, no information was given for ratings this bad. As this is being written, we are ranked at 9 million or better – this is an expected result, based on getting more than 20 views per day on average. [Update: Nov. 13, 2018 – although since my previous update, I have achieved some record monthly views, I had dropped out of the Alexa rank until some recent time (checks are made about once a month. We are back today with 9,500,000 out of almost 2 billion.]
But if it is in the top million, what do we have? (Warning: the further one gets from the top rank, the more questionable the ranking will be, but it should be better than counting “likes” in social media)
If there are a billion sites, and the ranking is ten million or less, then, by division, the website is ranked at 1 out of the 100 top viewed sites. Alexa warns that below a ranking a 100,000, results are of low statistical significance.
Nevertheless, we might analyze the data from another viewpoint.
While we do not want to show any prejudice against countries beyond the United States (in fact, this writer lives in Latin America), we must base our conclusions upon the best data available. We may judge that there are more than 100 million companies in the world, so to be in the top 1 per cent, one is doing better than at least 90 million companies. Now, the statistics for the U.S. alone, based on dated information, give 5.9 million firms employing at least one person. We would hope, based on the current number of world web-sites, that these represent the top 50 % of 1 % of all web traffic. Thus, the owner of an U.S. company, even if it is in the top 1 % of the alexa.com ratings, should hope to be high among the companies rated. However, a company in the Third World, which rates in the top 1 %, might be very happy if it does not have world-wide recognition.
We once found that our own web page was better ranked than the local office of one of the big accounting firms. Most of these, happily, only had one page for all their global firms, and thus could not suffer such humiliation.
At any rate, the closer that a private individual within the top one per cent gets to the figure representing the quantity of firms in the U.S., the more evidence we have of a web site which is now included in special company.
The following information has been found about WordPress, as it relates to the information given above.
According to a websited called expandedramblings, on 12/22/16, there were 75 million websites using WordPress, hence one can calculate how well one is doing on the platform with this statistic as the denominator, and Alexa’s as the numerator. A comment there criticizes that no source is given. From reading the search engine results, it may be that a plug-in was used. A more recent source, codeinwp, dated January 28, 2018, gives approximately 76.5 million blog websites on the platform mentioned, (search terms: wordpress statistics websites), a figure somehow diffeentiated from “around 19,500,000 websites on the entire web”. This number is very similar to the number of active WordPress websites, and similar to one found 2 years ago – that source unknown – the current one is undated, and tripped the filtering program, in addition to being purely commercial, so it will not be referenced. Also, perhaps, the distinction is between sites powered by WordPress as distinct from the blogs.
Since this writer finds a pattern in being ranked during the North American winter, and not during the summer, it seems that a conclusion can be made on that basis. It ties in with this writer’s blog statistics, which show a jump in views beginning in September, and a drop after the end of the school year in the Northern Hemisphere. Other bloggers might also want to analyze how vacations affect the number of views of their pages.
Update: February 14 (for this and the next paragraph only). I find both good news and bad news. In the last 2 weeks, while my views have shot up 50 %, I have dropped 100%. How can this be? I’m surprised these statistics are available, because this has not been my prior experience. Anyway, other readers, after having seen the above, might very much want an explanation.
Are we in blogging about earth-shaking news? I’m not! The majority is interested in a story which cannot be found here. Actually, we cannot tell if the 10 million difference is the result of readership in the United States, the European Union, or a populous Asian country. It is hard to compete with news about the things which make headlines, which might not even be monetizable by those interested in cash for their writing.
Never mind the “likes”. Someone who has the time to generate such data may do so – someone may have contaminated a few of this writer’s pages by clicking where it was not warranted (hopefully signing-in was required for validity). Web pages that cannot be found, or that have been found censurable, will certainly not generate traffic. This writer is happy with writing mostly serious articles – none that attack anybody – and to have a modest year by year increase in traffic. That was much more voluminous in the now defunct “knol” subdomain of Google, after which it was necessary to re-establish this writer’s presence.
If the above chart portrayed growth of a bank account through interest, the investment would not be bad.
Well, at least the reader can imagine being part of the one per cent of something, even if it isn’t of the moneyed class, of the movers and shakers.
Or, perhaps, you intend to be on your way to joining that fabled group.
January 2, 2018. Updated with new statistics, February 5, 2018.
Now comes the bad news. Either it is something that I missed the first time around, or it is new information, but it appears that only a quarter of the listed websites at internetlivestats are active, or more conservatively, around 200 million. The data on the linked page is about 400 million websites out-of-date. One’s boast to being in the top one percent thus depends on the data used for such a claim. Updated November 30, 2018.
© 2018, Paul Karl Moeller