Apr 152008

I was all but absent from Philaahzophy for a couple of months for a number of reasons (both personal and professional), but I realized this absence also gave me the perfect opportunity to run the various ranking systems through their paces and see just how effective each of them really is. The four ranking systems I’ll be examining are Google PageRank, Alexa Rank, Technorati Rank, and IZEA’s RealRank.

First, their definitions/descriptions in their own words-

Google PageRank-

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important”.

The basic problem here is that PR only deals with incoming links. Traffic and page views (the metrics that mean your posts are actually being read) play zero part in determining your PR. Additionally, once Google realized just how easily its ranking system could be manipulated through paid links they refused to fix the system and instead simply arbitrarily punished sites they felt were selling PageRank. Additionally PR is updated at random intervals so there is no way to tell how aged the data is.

Alexa Rank-

Alexa’s traffic rankings are based on the usage patterns of Alexa Toolbar users over a rolling 3 month period. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of reach and pageviews. Reach is determined by the number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day. Pageviews are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. However, multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are counted as a single pageview. The site with the highest combination of users and pageviews is ranked #1.

Alexa seems to be looking at things correctly. At least they’re measuring the right things. Their problem is the way in which they measure those metrics. The only “votes” that count are cast by people willing to install the Alexa toolbar in their browsers. Their secondary problem is that they’re not moving anywhere near internet speed. The reported rank is a three month average. Internet “heat” seldom lasts more than days – weeks at the most.

Technorati Rank-

A Technorati Ranking relates to the number of sources that point to a particular weblog relative to other weblogs. The more sources referencing a weblog, the higher the Technorati ranking.

Tehcnorati ranking is a blend of PageRank and Alexa customized exclusively for blogs. Get linked to from the Google, Yahoo!, MSN, or AOL homepages and have your content seen by millions of users and your Technorati rank will be completely unchanged. That’s because they only count links from other sites in their system and they only allow blogs into the system. Your rank is determined by comparing your “Authority” (the number of blogs that have linked to you in the last six months) to the authority of other blogs in the system.

IZEA RealRank-

RealRank data is gathered from the IZEA Toolkit “ITK” (formerly PPP Tools). It is a piece of javascript that many of you already have and those outside of PPP will be able to get from a separate site without joining PPP or SocialSpark. ITK gathers REAL traffic information, much like your analytics platform and ranks users based on their standing within the network. The formula is relatively simple.

70% weighted towards visitors per day
20% weighted towards amount of ACTIVE inbound links per day
10% weighted towards pageviews per day

Additionally, RealRank is updated daily with both that day’s score and the average weekly score being reported. The biggest problem with RealRank is that you are only ranked against other sites that have also installed the ITK javascript snippet on their websites.

Here’s a look at what happened to Philaahzophy’s rankings over the last 6 months or so-

11/24/08 01/15/08 02/15/08 03/15/08 04/15/08
Visitors 75 70 273 73 170
Google PageRank* 0 0 0 0 0
Alexa 200,936 63,244 58,397 187,059 352,032
Technorati 63,934 52,930 48,746 72,195 93,360
IZEA RealRank 387 402 261 473 799

*My Google PageRank has been a steady zero as a result of Google disagreeing with how I choose to monetize my blog.
However, online tools designed to predict PR have consistently placed me at PR3.

Since my PR has been manually set at zero there’s not really analysis necessary (or relevant).

My Alexa ranking is only just starting to catch up with the fact that I essentially abandoned the blog (and my traffic tanked) in the second half of February and won’t reflect my return to blogging (and the return of my traffic) for at least another three months. In fact, it will continue declining for the next month or so.

Technorati has a similar problem as Alexa. Since my ranking is based of six months of history it is reflecting what was instead of what is. Even then it’s a reflection of how many people thought my old posts were link worthy and does nothing to reflect current readership.

As for IZEA RealRank, the real changes can’t be seen in the table I created above. I returned to Philaahzophy on April 8th with 59 visitors that day and a RealRank of 1,250. Check out this RealRank progression-

Visitors Page Views RealRank
04/08/08 59 95 1250
04/09/08 78 104 1208
04/10/08 58 80 1518
04/11/08 78 138 1263
04/12/08 124 166 1258
04/13/08 160 255 1000
04/14/08 155 248 875
04/15/08 179 317 799

See how quickly RealRank responds? If you really want to know how well your website is doing compared to the rest of the blogosphere today, or you’re an advertiser trying to decide where to spend your advertising budget most effectively, then Izea Ranks clearly gives you the most accurate, most up-to-date information available in the blogosphere today.

Disclaimer: Yes, IZEA sponsored this post. But they had no control over what I wrote in it. The numbers are the numbers. Feel free to check them out for yourself before deciding which ranking system to trust.

  3 Responses to “A Real World Case Study Of Website Ranking Systems”

  1. I’m impressed. RealRank has been good to me so far, even if generating traffic is much harder than playing the “link game” with Google.

    Tina Kubala’s last blog post..Retro Kitch Couch

  2. Hi Tina!

    I get more and more pleased with Izea’s RealRank every day. I’ve climbed back up to 629 today, but it’s not just that I’m doing better. I truly feel like RealRank is a much more accurate reflection of how my blog is doing.

  3. Great article,

    I don’t think I’ve ever had it explained so in depth.

    Grant’s last blog post..Buy Groceries with Your Economic Stimulus Check

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