If you have a small business website, chances are you’ve got a statistics tracking program installed, such as Google Analytics. That’s great! You need to be able to drill down on the demographics of visitors to your site, find out which pages are most popular and determine if you’ve selected the right keywords based on searches. So, do you really need to visit other sites, such as Alexa and Quantcast, which track traffic? Yes! Here’s why we offer this piece of small business advice.
About Alexa and Quantcast
Alexa is best known for being a tool that provides real-time traffic statistics for any site -yours or someone else’s. In addition to those broad stats, you can also use Alexa to look at the number of page views per user, the percentage of bounces (people who landed on your page and then quickly left), the average amount of time visitors spent on your site and the percentage of visits you received for specific keyword searches. Alexa also provides basic demographics, such as the average age of your site’s visitors, their educational level, gender and more. And, Alexa keeps track of the incoming links. It only counts links from sites that are included in Alexa’s database and more than one link from the same site is counted as a single incoming link.
While Quantcast is a similar tracking tool, it does differ a bit from Alexa. According to Quantcast’s website, it uses statistical modeling to identify patterns and “build a translation of cookies to people” in order to address visitors who might access a single site from multiple devices or delete tracking cookies that would count multiple visits as multiple visitors. Quantcast provides much of the same demographic information on visitors as Alexa, which includes age, gender and income levels. Although they don’t currently offer real-time data, Quantcast is testing it out.
What Quantcast provides that Alexa does not is a profile of the type of user who buys a particular product from your website. This is done via the Quantcast Advertising service, which profiles and predicts real-time media buying. How does this relate to small business tips? It allows you to identify a target market based on who is already interested in buying your products or services and then customize your advertisements to this demographic.
Both tracking services offer free services with paid upgrades that offer additional options.
Using Alexa and Quantcast to Check Out the Competition
Perhaps the most useful aspect of using these ancillary statistics tracking sites is the ability to find information about your competitors’ traffic. Once you have compiled a list of your biggest online competitors, you can simply put their sites’ URLs into the programs and obtain an overview of the amount of traffic and the keywords being used to find their sites. In addition, Quantcast and Alexa will return a list of similar sites so you can broaden the list of competing companies.
Here’s a piece of small business advice if you truly want to stand out from the competition: compare how your site stacks up against your competitors. By reviewing the same statistics for your site as well as similar sites, you can easily identify opportunities and threats. And, since Alexa provides nearly real-time reporting on your competitors’ website traffic (Quantcast doesn’t but Google Analytics now does), you can quickly determine the general state of their e-commerce efforts and identify trends that you can capitalize on without having to wait for other reports. You can actually see what’s happening on a website, minute by minute!
Did a major change in the marketplace positively or negatively affect a similar site? Are they using long tail keywords you are not – and ranking highly for them? Are there more, or fewer, competitors currently in the marketplace? These are the types of questions for which you can find answers at Alexa and Quantcast.
It’s important to bear in mind that the statistics provided by Quantcast and Alexa are really nothing more than estimates; but that doesn’t make the information any less useful if you are simply looking for trends, researching keywords and new target markets and creating a competitive analysis.