You want visitors. Unfortunately, so do your competitors. If visitors aren’t on your website, you want to know where they’re going, why they’re going there, and how you stack up against the other players in your industry.
In addition to monitoring your own website and the communities that affect your business, you also need to watch your competition.
On the Web, popularity matters. When it comes to valuations, most startups and media outlets are judged by their monthly unique visitor count, which is considered a measure of a site’s ability to reach people. Relevance-based search engine rankings reinforce this, because sites with more inbound links are generally considered more authoritative.
Some websites pay marketing firms to funnel traffic to them. Artificial inflation of visits to the site does nothing to improve conversion rates. These paid visitors seldom turn into buyers or contributors, but they do raise the site’s profile with ranking services such as comScore, which may eventually get the site noticed by others. That said, raw traffic volumes are a spurious metric for comparing yourself to others.
Several services, such as Alexa and Compete.com, try to estimate site popularity. Use this data with caution. Alexa, for example, collects data on site activity from browser toolbars, then extrapolates it to the population as a whole. Unfortunately, this approach has many limitations, including problems with SSL visibility ...