Alexa.com vs Compete.com – Which Measures Web Traffic Better?

When you think of web traffic analysis you are either thinking of Alexa.com and/or Compete.com.  Both are market leaders in analyzing web traffic and are great sites to help you understand web trends and where traffic is headed in the world-wide-web.

There are certain similarities in the way both companies operate and there are certain differences as well. To get a good understanding of Alexa and Compete, you need to answer two questions:

·    What do they do?

·    How do they do it?

Basically, this means that you need to study the methodology that is followed by these two companies to analyze the traffic of a particular website. This is needed so that you know the ‘source’ or analytics that you are receiving from these two sites.

The next thing to do is to dive deep into what these companies have to offer. Do they offer only plain vanilla lists? Can they offer a more competitive analysis? What are the things that they don’t offer?  If you are a webmaster or a marketer, knowing these details may be the difference between a successful campaign or a failed marketing plan.  So read on as I unravel the differences and similarities between the two sites.

1. Ranking Methodology: Alexa calculates its rankings through the data that it collects through its toolbar users. There are millions of people who use the Alexa toolbar and basically Alexa rankings are the result of the data sent to Alexa through these toolbars. Compete.com also relies on their Compete toolbar to a large extent. However, they have a network of members outside their toolbar users who send back their web usage information as well.  The similarity in the methodology of the two companies is the use of toolbars. The difference is that Compete doesn’t depend entirely on toolbars. It has a large network of users outside its toolbar users who feed in to the Compete network. In comparison, Alexa does have a small base of non toolbar users but their dependence on the Alexa toolbar is much higher than Compete’s dependence on the Compete toolbar.

2. History of the two companies: While Alexa has been around for more than a decade, Compete is a relative newcomer in the field. Compete opened up its data for the public in 2006 while Alexa has been around for about 10 years prior to that.

3. Geographic boundary: Compete is only focused in the US. While their websites say that they are working on getting the data of users outside the US as well. It doesn’t give a timeline for when that will be. If you are a business outside the US or are interested in serving users of other countries then Alexa is definitely the right choice for you. However make sure to not completely rule out and ignore Compete if you are outside US.

4. List of top ranking sites: Both companies offer top site lists but Alexa has got a much diverse list of top sites. You can look at top sites by countries as well as categories. You can combine the two and see which sites are doing the best for a particular category in a particular country. Since Compete doesn’t have data for outside United States right now, this option is not available in Compete. You can view the top sites for United States but can’t go much farther than that.

5. Website Analytics: Compete is much better than Alexa, when it comes to analytics. Compete has got an option where it lets you enter a website and see which keywords are sending traffic to that website. Not only that, you can enter a keyword and see where the traffic from that keyword is going. For example, you can see that “mad money” is a major keyword that sends traffic to “cnbc.com”. And then you can see that “mad money” sends traffic to other websites like “thestreet.com” and even “imdb.com”. These types of analytical tools are not available in Alexa. If you are looking for tools that can provide you keyword ideas for generating content on your website, then Compete will be a great tool for you.

6. Referral site Analytics: This is another feature that is only available in Compete. Using this tool you can find out which sites are sending traffic to a particular website. So, for instance, you can see that MSN, Yahoo and Google are the top 3 sites that send traffic to CNBC. This is a great tool for someone looking to forge alliances. You can forge alliances with the websites that are sending maximum traffic to your competitor’s websites and advertise with such websites.

7. Accuracy: Accuracy is a little hard to call. Both these sites use a similar ranking methodology and therefore, if you look at US only results, the results of both of them are quite close. Due to the use of non-toolbar users, Compete gives slightly more accurate results than Alexa. Most of the time it is negligible but if you really need accurate results for a US business, then you should go with Compete.

8. Pricing: The pricing of Compete is more reasonable than Alexa. Since Alexa was around much before Compete, it was charging an astronomical price. Compete came into the market much later and probably that is the reason its subscription is cheaper than most of Alexa’s lists.

If you are a business outside the United States and or a marketer looking for lists of top ranking websites in various categories to advertise then Alexa is your best choice. If you are a US based business looking to promote your business and are interested in in-depth analysis, then you should definitely go with Compete. Compete is much better in giving you insight in web analytics, whereas to understand the big picture, Alexa maybe a better option.


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7 Responses to “Alexa.com vs Compete.com – Which Measures Web Traffic Better?”

  • Jame on October 27, 2008

    It seems compete is the more accurate out of the 2 but Alexa is the one everyone uses.

  • hamdi on February 11, 2009

    but how do they find out how many people come to my website

  • ripoffs on October 23, 2009

    Compete reported that schoolofmusic.com had 179 unique visitors in September of 2009. We actually had 3103 unique visitors. We track IP addresses, operating systems, cities, states, page views, unique visitors, returning visitors, and more. We know, beyond any doubt, how many visitors we have. That makes their margin of error 94%. What is the point in paying any attention to them? That is like Car and Driver indicating that the top speed of a Corvette is 9 miles an hour.

    Quantcast has a tool on our site that actually measures visitors and they reported about 2,400 unique visits during the same period. We, however, have not added their tool to every landing page. For more information, please visit http://www.ripoffs.org/competecomaccuracy.html.

  • Stefanos Anastasiadis on October 27, 2009

    I really do not know if we can rely in any of these tools, since they both provide traffic estimations. I tend to use Quantcast,Alexa and Compete together, in order to get an estimation of the incoming traffic. However,I have noticed that there is a big difference in the numbers provided by Alexa and Compete. Demographic data and traffic sources are also very interesting.

  • Ziad K. Abdelnour on September 27, 2010

    Hi. The information is more interesting and up to now i do not know about how alexa updation on the site.
    Thank for sharing the valuable information to us.

  • Jeff Turner on January 15, 2011

    I was not aware of compete. It is interesting to know how Alexa, google, and Compete which I will look keep creating different ways for ranking, etc.

  • Referrals on March 20, 2011

    I’ve been aware of Compete for some time but still use Alexa every time I want to get a rough idea of traffic. Unless you are looking at a very popular site all you are getting from it is that one site is more popular than another. For that it’s great. Anything else not so much.

    Chris

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