1. Alexa Ranking
The Alexa Ranking isn’t exactly “little-known,” but it is the best-known metric for ranking websites. This is the first thing I look at when I visit a site:
Alexa tracks stats for everyone who has the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser, which accounts for less than 1% of internet users. So it’s not very accurate, but it’ll give you a rough idea of the website’s popularity.
- If you use Chrome, install the Alexa Extension.
- If you use Firefox, get the Alexa Add-On.
- If you use Internet Explorer, switch to Chrome. If you insist, you can download the Alexa Toolbar.
Alexa’s reliability is shaky – some argue that it’s worthless – so it’s important to consider other metrics.
Compete.com is like Alexa, except they pull their stats from multiple sources and it’s only based on U.S. traffic.
Based on checking my sites and Income Diary, the “Unique Visitors” stat that it generates is much lower than the actual traffic.
SimilarWeb is another website traffic checker that’s similar to Alexa and Compete, except, it’s got a lot more detail put into it, so it’s more accurate!
The main takeaway is that it gives you a line graph with values for the number of daily unique visitors and the sources. You can see the countries that your traffic comes from, top referring sites, the top destination sites (sites people visit after yours), display ads, audience interests, and up to 10 organic keywords with the free version.
Feed Compare is a neat tool that lets you see how many RSS subscribers a website has as long as they use FeedBurner.
Step 1: Find the FeedBurner ID for a blog you’d like to check:
Most sites should link directly to their RSS feed on FeedBurner. Look for the orange icon.
Step 2: Put the FeedBurner ID into Feed Compare’s tool.
As you can see, Seth Godin has over 500,000 subscribers and it grew 1,500 in one day.
My favorite tool for website-based keyword research is SEMRush.com. Here’s a screenshot when you search IncomeDiary.com:
As you see, Michael ranks 1st for “internet businesses,” 4th for “how to make money blogging,” and 6th for “how to make money online.” Those are highly competitive keywords that are collectively searched over 20,000 times per month.
As you go down the list, you can start to estimate how much traffic he gets for each keyword based on the position and search volume.
6. YouTube or Vimeo Views
If a website has a YouTube or Vimeo video embedded on the homepage, click to “Watch on YouTube.”
If the video is public, both YouTube and Vimeo will show the view counts. Also check the upload date to estimate how many people view it per month.
Just because the homepage Dollar Shave Club video has almost 4 million views doesn’t mean that their site had 4 million views. But it gives you some idea of how much traffic they got in their first month.
7. Blog Post Comments
Another way to gauge the popularity of a blog is to look at how many comments it gets per post.
With my sites, I’ve found that an average of 1 out of every 200 readers leaves a comment. So a post with 20 non-Nicholas comments was viewed about 4,000 times. This changes with every post and every blog, but again, it gives you a general idea.
8. Total Comment Counts
Immediately after you comment on a WordPress blog, your browser redirects you to where your comment will show up. If you look at the URL, you’ll see something that looks like this:
The second half of the URL tells you that you left the 108,656th comment on IncomeDiary.com. This number includes spam comments. Assume that 75-90% of the comments are spam and you can get an idea of how many comments a site has had since day one.
9. Check their Archives
In the beginning, lots of bloggers share all of their stats about how much traffic their site is getting and where this traffic is coming from. As the blog grows, this information becomes more and more valuable so most bloggers stop sharing it.
If you peruse through the archived articles on a blog, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble upon a “blog in review” or “traffic report” post. With those stats, you can start to figure out how much traffic the site is getting today.
A few sites, like ThinkTraffic.net, choose to publish traffic reports every month because those stats are very relevant to their audiences.
10. Check “Advertise Here” Pages
By far, the most accurate way to figure out how much traffic a website gets is to go to their Advertising page.
If a blog is trying to sell advertising space, they need to tell you exactly how many unique views and impressions your ad is going to get every month.
If you sell advertising space on BuySellAds, you need to share your monthly unique and monthly impressions.