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I am curious as to how trafficestimate and digsitesvalue work or where they get their data. trafficestimate.com basically estimates how much traffic my web site gets.

My initial thought was that they multiply an Alexa value by some constant but I have no idea how accurate that would be. Does anyone have any idea how they do it?

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Alexa

Alexa runs a large number of DNS servers and with it's partners is able to monitor a chunk of the DNS traffic for the Internet.

With DNS traffic data Alexa can see the number of queries performed for DNS records. Using this data they are able to create relatively accurate estimates on the number of HTTP requests a domain gets.

I say relative, because it's relative to the sample size. The more DNS queries a domain record gets the more accurate the estimates.

There are a few problems using DNS traffic to estimate visitors. Firstly, DNS records are cached at multiple levels down a network. Alexa can only see when a DNS request is made but not how many times a visitor hit a website using a cached DNS. Furthermore, the DNS query itself does not define context. Are the lookups done by a automated system or a human using a browser?

Alexa can use correlational statistics to pair visitor traffic numbers with DNS query traffic. They can further refine their estimates by classifying websites into categories.

This would produce accurate estimates that FaceBook is more popular then Google+ simply based on the number of www.facebook.com DNS searches performed.

One of the reasons people do not trust Alexa rankings/traffic numbers is that they check domains in the low percentile of statistics, or because of traffic location.

When people visit a domain the DNS lookup traces to a DNS provider near them, and often Alexa is never involved. So you could have a blog that is very popular on the East coast, but this hotspot is not visible to Alexa. For Alexa estimates to be accurate a website needs a broad range of DNS queries from many different areas.

I have two blogs that have the same traffic, but Alexa ranks one much higher because one has more international visitors. The other is popular among Canadians most. Therefore, from Alexa's perspective the international one has more traffic.

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  • The information about alexa DNS is very interesting! Do you have any prooflink? I tried to google, but without success. – Andrew Rukin Jan 30 '16 at 9:47
  • @AndrewRukin Alexa use to be open about their DNS usage but now they just say they collect data using their "own technology". I did find an online book that might be about this topic. books.google.ca/… – Reactgular Jan 30 '16 at 16:42
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Alexa's data isn't accurate, they only know about websites visited from people who have the toolbar installed in their browser. That was years ago and wasn't accurate then either.

Simply put, there is no way they can say with any accuracy how much traffic a website gets, without having direct access to the websites raw server logs. Or Analytics program.

If my website is estimated to receive 1,000 visits per day. How do they know i'm not mailing out postcards to 10,000 people quarterly boosting my visits? Or that my email list has 5,000 users who receive emails weekly and click thru?

It shows Google has had approx 5 billion visits this month. Last time Google gave out some data about searches per month it was around 100 billion.

These websites which you listed that claim to estimate another websites traffic are not providing any real data. Pay no attention to them.

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  • thanks for the answer. In short, there is no way for a third party to accurately estimate another site's traffic right? – Sam Creamer Jul 7 '14 at 18:07
  • If I recall correctly, the Alexa toolbar was used to assist in page ranking but not traffic measuring. – Reactgular Jul 7 '14 at 19:16
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    @SamCreamer that's right Sam, guess all they want it's not accurate. – Anagio Jul 7 '14 at 22:40
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For the most part WAG (wild * guess).

We had one of these traffic reporting services call us trying to sell us their services which Google analytics provides for free. So I did research.

The general consensus among the users out there is that after loading the tracking code so the service could get real-time traffic on your website, often the traffic went down from their posted free estimates.

You're rarely going to see any transparency on how they derive their estimation and it can be kind of meaningless.

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  • thanks for the answer, basically I should completely disregard these websites – Sam Creamer Jul 7 '14 at 18:07
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You should not use only Alexa. You need several other sources like compete, quantcast etc.

We tried for a very long time for an algorithm for our own site price estimator and it is not very easy to calculate with just using Alexa, because it changes in time.

I suggest you to try to find a coefficient with several websites with different traffics that you know their traffic counts.

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My initial thought was that they multiply an Alexa value by some constant but I have no idea how accurate that would be. Does anyone have any idea how they do it?

Well, the idea itself is correct. However, it is not as easy as it seems. Here you may find a much better formula: http://netberry.co.uk/alexa-rank-explained.htm

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