Friday, October 17, 2008

Website Traffic Estimation: Is there really a reliable tool to estimate traffic??

In the last couple of months I've been working on prospecting the Latin American market for Real Estate WebPortals. In my research I've found that at some point I needed to forecast traffic (number of unique users per month) in each of the studied countries in order to have at least an approximation of the revenue income from Advertising.
In my research I did not find what I was looking for: a simple tool or website where if you pasted the URL it gives you an estimate of monthly visits/users or page views. The only website that does this kind of estimation is however, after extesive comparison of its results and real data that I managed to get, I have to say that the error margin of this site is huge. The variability of the estimates (compared to real data) that this website has in its results is so big that I cannot recommend it for traffic estimations or traffic forecasting.

Although I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for to accurate predict traffic, In the search process I found some interesting tools that can be useful:

  • Google Insights Search: Very interesting tool. It does not provide the actual number of users or visits, but does provide information regarding search volume of any keyword. You can see tendencies in search volumes and compare relative search volumes between different keywords.
  • This is the oldest and most comprehensive webtraffic statistics website available for free use. Even though it's not statistically accurate (Its sampling method is not representative) is the closest we have to an overall traffic ranking system . It tends to work pretty well with websites with a "Traffic Rank" higher than 100.000.
  • Provides information in a very similar way than does: Traffic Rankings, Number of users per Million, trend graphs, etc.
Given that there wasn't such a tool, I decided to creat one myself and I developed an Excel Model to predict website Traffic for any site. The model I came up with is an statistical function (the average of a linear function with a 2nd degree polinomic function) and predicts the number of users based on Alexa's reach. This model, with links real stats (past real number of users of selected websites) to estimate users of any website, based on its reach. In some cases, because Alexa's information is not accurate always, the "Reach" has to be "translated" into a relevan number before being plugged into the Excel function.
Although it still needs a lot of work, so far the average estimation error is around 7%, which is much better than the other tools I managed to find online.
I can forward the Excel file on request and for free, just in exchange of data to help me build a better and more accurate function.

See part 2 of this post in Website traffic estimation: My excel model

Copyright MBA Internet Marketing Manager

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