Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What's More Important: Technorati, Alexa, Traffic, Pagerank or?

Alternate Title: Rankings, Smankings? (Part Two)

From my collected emails on the subject of what tools and stats are most vital, comes a set of questions like this:
I'm very confused with all the stats and ranking options... I'm not sure I have time to follow all of them. Which one or two are the most important? Isn't traffic, people actually visiting your site, the real bottom line?
Sure it's more important to get visitors to your site ~ if they arrive there looking for what you've got.

This is where monitoring your stats, referrals & tools comes in; there's no value in people arriving here for 'whores for hire' as I'm not that kind of whore. I know I may sound like I'm beating a dead horse here, but most of this reply comes down to your target market: Who are you trying to serve &/or appeal to?

If you are aiming for other professionals (such as media folks, buyers who might carry your product in their stores, those who buy ad space, investors etc.) then Alexa may be very important to you. While Alexa is by no means perfect, as noted here, it is free and so remains sort of a bible for many who are trying to evaluate the 'weight' of your site.

Alexa appeals to a more 'old white guy' mentality (not the uber rich sort; they use Nielsen//NetRatings), and thus is the wunderbar to beat when trying to appeal to conservative professionals or businesses. Alexa is also best for websites (as opposed to blogs). If any of this applies to you and your company, you'll want to monitor and increase your site's Alexa ranking.

If you are trying to be perceived as an authority, with a blog, then Technorati is the standard. Technorati basically monitors links to a blog ~ be they in sidebars or posts ~ and uses each unique site linking in as the way to determine authority. (More sites linking to you is more authoritative than several links from the same site.)

Technorati's ranking system is monitored by the hip and trendy, as well as those who need to know about the hip and trendy. Hip and trendy, of course, is relative ~ for the most part just knowing of and understanding the importance of blogs separates these folks from the old white guys at Alexa.

Technorati is widely used by both readers/consumers and professionals alike. Playing at Technorati (or at least monitoring the Top Searches, Top Tags and WTF posts) allows everyone (bloggers, media pros, consumers, companies, personalities, etc), to monitor trends ~ including bloggers, media pros, consumers, companies, personalities, etc. Some use Technorati as their blogging search engine, though they more likely refer to this as 'listening to conversations' because they are hip and trendy. (Though not uber hip & trendy or they'd be doing it at Twitter.)

PageRank is another way to measure your site's pull and power. This ranking system includes blogs and websites and is most often used by other webmasters and bloggers to evaluate the competition, SEO results, and/or another site for link swaps etc. It offers none of the options of play that Technorati does, nor does it have any appeal for readers/consumers really. In fact, I personally don't give much thought to page rank. This likely surprises no one, as I am no fan of SEO work. However, as your Technorati &/or Alexa rankings increase, so does (or so should) your page rank. So concentrate on one of both of them and PageRank takes care of itself. At least that's my philosophy.

What all of the above (and other sites/tools too) do is present collected data. It's up to you to interpret it ~ and put that knowledge to use.

As to what's more important to you, well, again that all comes down to what you're all about and who you want to reach ~ you'll want to use the tools which seem to most accurately reflect your potential customers.

If pressed to make a specific recommendation in a general sense it would be that each tool has merit and ideally you want each to increase your ranking in all of them. Working each tool or angle that fits your business is the best way to try to cover all the bases and to see where your marketing may be weakest.

However, remember that these are tools. They help you evaluate, offer means to monitor effects of programs/campaigns and changes in those programs/campaigns, but they are not, at the end of the day, success. Success is achieved when you receive sales ~ sales customers are happy with. For example, focusing on increasing your Technorati rank does not ensure that you'll increase your traffic or that someone from the media will contact you for a quote (and should you be blessed with the latter, that still doesn't ensure traffic or sales).

So use the tools, let them inspire and challenge you in running your business; but don't let them use & run you.

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