New Backlink Analysis Strategy: Compete.com Referral Analytics

Sep 21st

Compete.com quietly launched a referral analytics product as part of their advanced package ($499/month). Even as a free user you can see the top 3 results for any site, which can be used to see how reliant a site is on search. Why is % of search traffic an important statistic?

  • If search traffic (as a % of total traffic) is low (relative to other competing sites) then it could indicate that there are organic optimization opportunities that are currently being missed and/or that site has a large organic traffic stream that can be marketed to in order to help it improve any search related weakness.
  • If search traffic (as a % of total traffic) is high (relative to other competing sites) then it could indicate that the site is near its full search potential, that the site is not very engaging, and/or does not have many loyal users

Here are search stats for SEO Book. Note that Google controls a minority of the traffic to this site, which means they have limited direct influence on the revenue of this site. Some sites are closer to 90% Google, which makes it easy for Google to effectively remove them from the web!

This sort of data is important for considering the viability of a business model, the stability of a site, and what multiple a site should sell for. It can also be used when considering the CPM of an ad unit - search traffic is much more targeted and goal oriented than a person browsing a forum is.

Until everyone and their dog started looking at PageRank (and how to manipulate it) it was a rather sound way of finding the most valuable backlinks. But with the pollution of endless bought links, nepotistic links, and PageRank only being updated quarterly it is tough to glean much market data from only looking at PageRank. Tools like SEO for Firefox (especially when used on a Yahoo! backlink search) allow you to gather more data about the quality of link sources. But they all try to measure proxies for value rather than how people actually surf the web.

Microsoft BrowseRank research would use browsing data to supplement PageRank on determining relevancy. In Internet Explorer 8 (currently in beta) a person's browsing details are sent to Microsoft by default. With ~ 80% of the browser market, Microsoft does not need to use a random walk for the core of their relevancy algorithm - they know what people are actually doing, and can use usage data as a big part of their relevancy algorithms.

Using a tool like Compete.com Referral Analytics makes it far easier to poach top affiliates, discover the best ad buying locations, and replicate a competitor's best backlinks. Be forewarned that the tool only works at the domain level, so it is much better at analyzing Yahoo.com than shopping.yahoo.com.

Along with referral analytics Compete offers destination analytics, which let you know what websites people visit AFTER visiting a particular site...which should help you glean information about how sites are monetizing, what offers are working well, what sites are well referenced by another site, and what sites people go to if they can't get what they want on the current site.

At $500 a month, this tool is probably only going to be used by those who are already fairly successful rather than as an entry level tool.

Published: September 21, 2008

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Comments

October 29, 2008 - 1:16am

I was looking for something like this. Considering Hitwise but this would be good to try for a month.

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