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The quality of being widely accepted, sought after or admired.
Power of influence, either granted to or developed by individuals, that leads to others doing what those individuals direct.
A measure of how reliable a source of information is. Is the article wriitten by a recognized expert in the field? Is it based on research?
The quality of being believable or trustworthy.
The quality of being plausible, believable, dependable, or worthy of confidence.
Glossary Web Archive
If you use the Internet Explorer browser, both the Google Toolbar and the Alexa Toolbar have a feature which shows the popularity of the Web site you are currently viewing. The Google PageRank is used by many companies, agencies and consulting firms to easily assess the authority and popularity of any Web site. In recent times even the advertising prices of a site have been determined in relationship to the Google PageRank.
Alexa's uses traffic popularity, which measures how many users of the Alexa Toolbar visit a certain site. But given the rapid demise of Internet Explorer and the fast growing interest of many Web publishers to increase their credibility and authority online there is a renewed interest in research, tools and services that can facilitate the task of measuring a Web site credibility, authority and popularity on the Internet.
Though most Web site owners have direct access to detailed, precise and easily manageable data coming form their own Web servers logs (these are files on a Web server which are automatically created and which contain precise data about each visitor origin, path through your site, time on each page and much more) very few know how to access, manage and make sense of this information, let alone being able to be able in some way to compare such stats with the ones of other comparable or competing Web sites.
Log analysis tools and live tracking services offer very valuable means to measure the traffic of a Web site, its demographics and technographics but offer very little in the way of helping an independent Web publisher assess the credibility, authority or popularity of Web sites that are not under her control.
This mini-guide brings together the best public resources available today on the Web that facilitate the task of assessing the credibility, authority and popularity of any Web site. When this is not directly feasible it offers resources and guidelines on how to personally assess and evaluate such factors.
In general, it can be said that there is not one unique, reliable indicator of credibility, authority and popularity for public Web sites.
Rather, there are a multiplicity of Web indicators that can be utilized to gather valuable data about a web site depending on the specific needs and scope of such research.
For ease of explanation I have grouped these Web credibility indicators in five basic sets:
a) Public Link Popularity Indicators
b) Google PageRank
c) Site Stats - (from server logs, live tracker, ad impressions, etc.)
d) Advertising Performance Indicators
e) Other Popularity Indicators
Link popularity is probably the most objective and publicly accessible credibility and authority indicator for anyone Web site. The link popularity of a site can be calculated through the ability of major search engines to report on backward links to anyone site through a simple manual query that anyone can carr out.
Unfortunately there are also a few drawbacks: the syntax to carry out this type of search varies across search engines. Worse than this, not all pages of every Web site are indexed and even Google is not able to provide a fully exhaustive calculus of the absolute number of sites connecting to a domain. So, like in similar situations, one can draw some valuable indications by looking at multiple results from different sources.
Here are some things I have learned along the way:
2) Finding Inbound Links in Yahoo Search
4) Linking Popularity Check by MarketLeap
This is an excellent, free, top quality service which allows you to effectively measure the link popularity of any Web site. This service allows to compare a selected site with up to three other sites, and also to a larger preselected sample of Web sites from the same interest area.
Reviewed in "How To Measure Link Popularity"
5) Link Popularity Check by MarketPosition
Online, Web-based service which measures the link popularity of any Web site against three reference URLs.
6) Check Your Link Popularity
A very effective and simple to use Windows utility (freeware). It checks very rapidly on Hobot/Google, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, Hotbot/Inktomi and MSN Search to see all of the inblund links to all of the sites you specify. It then dinamically builds a list of all the sites according to their link popularity overall score. Used with relevant competitors and other sites in the same sector it offers a very valuable and reliable indicator of a Web site authority in its field. It contains no adware or spyware and it is a reliable, trusted tool. It is free because it is sponsored by Axandra software.
Immediate free download here.
Link Survey is a link popularity checking tool that is a must for any Webmaster. Just enter in the Website(s) for which you want to check the link popularity, and hit the start button. Immediately, Link Survey sends a query out to many popular search engines and displays the results in a table format. From there, you can use the built-in, multi-tabbed Web browser to check out the Web sites that have linked to your pre-selected site. Link Survey also allws data export your to text, HTML, Excel file formats.
Free and simple free online service that helps you generate link lists from three major search engines. Results can also be emailed each month.
9) Compute Your Own Web Traffic Rank
Jakob Nielsen own empirical approach to derive site popularity relative to its largest competitor. Though the method is dated over 6 years, and it references Alexa's (dubious) abilities, it nonetheless offers a complementary perspective on how to measure popularity and it adds one extra measurement weapon to our ammunition set.
Google PageRank is one of the very classic credibility and authority indicators on the Web and also one of the most trusted and reliable ones.
PageRank™ is an exclusive technology of Google which evaluates the popularity of your Website's pages with a ranking value ranging between 0 and 10. However, in order to know this Rank, you have to download and to install the Google Toolbar.
Prog (formerly proogle)
Measures Google PageRank without needing to have the toolbar, plus it provides listing of all of the inbound links with relative PageRank for each one.
Indicateur De Page Rank
Another Web-based solution to measure Google PageRank without needing to have the toolbar. Minimalist approach, no distractions, fast response.
(not available anymore)
MyRankOnline was created to enable webmasters to easily publish the PageRank of their site on their own Web pages without any Toolbar.
Though I am aware of breaking out from the traditional approach to the use of Web server statistics, but I would strongly suggest independent publishers, reporters, bloggers and online journalists of all kinds, to make (a representative sample) of their log server stats publicly available.
Log server statistics are files that are automatically created on the Web server hosting your site and documenting in a high level of technical detail each and every access to your site.
My recommendation is: Make it completely transparent for everyone to see how well you are doing.
The more transparent you are, the more credible your information will be.
Some of you may correctly note that it would be quite easy for some unscrupolous webmasters to easily fake some of their own traffic statistics. While this may be certainly true, it also provides an interesting opportunity for vendors of log server analysis and live tracking software to start providing a "certified" offerings to their package, allowing publication of somewhat more trustworthy data under the control/verification of a third-party entity.
So, while it may be hard to find public traffic statistics for a while still, look for official (or unofficial) traffic data whenever you can. If it is not available publicly, request access to the non-public data. If the data is locked behind a secure account ask them to provide you with a signed screenshot set ("signed" meaning that they will certify their screenshots not to have been tampered digitally). But do look at server logs data if you want to have the real story on any site.
These are the important indicators, within Web site traffic statistics, to look for:
Number of daily unique visitors.
This is a specific value that says a lot about any site popularity and traffic.
Don't be confused by the statistic called "hit". Consider "hits" useless. No value whatsoever is assessing the credibility and authority of a Web site. If you see a site bragging about the number of "hits" it has, you are looking at a non-credible site. Period.
This critical indicator says how many page views your site has received. Since one visitor can view multiple pages, it is important to understand whether the site prompts the user for extra reading or not.
Pages per visitor.
This is the other critical statistical factor to find about. How many pages each visitor to that site gets to see?
Time on site.
Probably indispensable as the two other indicators above the time on site shows clearly if the visitors of a certain site spend serious time on it or are just passers-by realizing that this is not the site for them.
Though very hard to compute with precision this indicator offers valuable feedback about the stickiness factor of any site by showing how large is the percentage of Web visitors returning for multiple visits.
One alternative way to obtain traffic data from sites that do not wish to share such information is to utilize services like Blogads, which rely on gathering and sharing page views statistics of their customer sites to make their advertising agency services more valuable and trusted.
Blogads is an ad brokering clearinghouse for bloggers and independent sites.
Through its service it is possible to determine some useful reference data about the traffic of any of the Web site that runs blogads. Since blogads is quite popular and established among many blog sites it is possible to get good traffic references for a large number of sites.
Since web site publishers need to insert a short code inside their web pages to run the Blogads service, it is next to automatic (just like for Google Adsense) for Blogads to know how many times any Web page running its code has been viewed.
Intelligently Blogads makes this data accessible to the public, and as a matter of fact it is one of the driving criteria for how advertisers select their ideal promotion outlets when using Blogads.
Please see: http://www.blogads.com/order_html
It should be noted that since site owners may not run blogads on all the pages of their sites, the statistics being shown on Blogads reflect only a minimum possible number of page views but possibly never the complete absolute number.
Blogads also provides advertising performance indicators to its publishing and advertising customers (clickthrough ratio on ads), but this data is not publicly accessible.
Advertising performance is a very valuable indicator of a Web site credibility as it provides a tangible reference of how much its readers trust the information, products and services being offered through it.
Unfortunately this type of information is generally kept under tabs by both advertising agencies and publishers. It would be very valuable for Web site owners to publish publicly this information in ways that cannot be counterfeited.
A certified data dump from Google, or other provider would be a welcome addition to a site credibility public set of indicators.
Where possible request the sharing of this advertising performance information for any site for which you wish to evaluate overall effectiveness and "traction”.
Google AdSense, which is a service provided by Google, allowing independent sites to run text-only contextual ads next to their articles. Google AdSense provides detailed performance statistics to Web site owners running it.
Similar programs offer equivalent information to both advertisers and publishers, though this information remains generally highly guarded.
If you, as I recommend, intend to publish or share such advertising performance information on your Web site, I strongly advise to first inform and obtain a written permission from your advertising partners.
Newsletter - Mailing List Size
Another major indicator of a site popularity is the size (and quality) of its mailing list. For mailing list size is generally intended the number of subscribers to a newsletter or other email-based periodical publication that the web site publishes.
Hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands. What is the number of people who has chosen to subscribe to your email-based news reports?
The larger the size and the more frequent the publication, the higher the level of popularity, authority and credibility achieved by that site.
Unfortunately this data is not generally shared or published.
It is my recommendation that Web publishers state their effective circulation without censorship and by always providing the source reference of that data, if not a visual proof or better yet a certified audited report.
There are multiple free services and tools that used together may provide additional sets of data to compute the degree of credibility, authority and popularity of one or more Web sites.
Though Alexa results can not be trusted as absolute measurements of a site popularity, credibility or rank, they can be very useful in checking overall trends and indicative evaluations of a site performance over time. It is well know that Alexa results can be easily faked and influenced with cheap techniques. The statistical results appearing in Alexa are derived from the surfing patterns of all those users who have installed the Alexa toolbar. Nonetheless such Alexa toolbar users maybe over ten millions, they remain a very limited audience sample, strongly slanted to represent the US-based Web geek demographic that best represent Alexa users: online marketing specialists, web site owners, webmasters fanatically interested in the ranking and visibility of their sites.
"In addition to the biases above, the Alexa user base is only a sample of the Internet population, and sites with relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa due to the statistical limitations of the sample. Alexa's data come from a large sample of several million Alexa Toolbar users; however, this is not large enough to accurately determine the rankings of sites with fewer than roughly 1,000 total monthly visitors. Generally, Traffic Rankings of 100,000+ should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data we receive is not statistically significant. Conversely, the more traffic a site receives (the closer it gets to the number 1 position), the more reliable its Traffic Ranking becomes."
Source:About the Alexa Traffic Rankings
Alexa traffic ranking is really only relatively good for the top 50,000 websites.
It is also a good pattern indicator for any site general trends.
Where Alexa can be useful on a busy site is for hunting related sites and seeing patterns.
How important is Alexa?
Alexa.com, how valuable is this?
"Alexa is trying to expand the use of its toolbar (and thus the accuracy of its statistics)."
"Alexa isn't real high on my list of respectable search sites. The accuracy is way off, and misleading to many."
"Of course Alexa isn`t a tool to get the world ranking on most visited sites accurat, completly agree with that, however I think it has some accuracy if you compare sites that are in similar or the same business."
"Alexa Web Search is a funny topic. Amusing, in fact. Alexa, despite the fact that it has a very small user base, takes it upon itself to issue"traffic rankings". These lopsided and absurdly inaccurate traffic rankings in themselves are enough to warrant a chuckle; but this topic gets much funnier when you see CEO's of affiliate marketing corporations and SEO amatuers brag about their Alexa traffic rankings."
"Alexa measures Web site use based on the traffic patterns of those who have installed and use the Alexa toolbar. Since probably 80-90% of Web surfers have probably never heard of Alexa, it's not something you can use as a marketing tool."
Find out more by yourself starting from here:
Yahoo Web Rank
In a move that may further thrill the professionals working in SEO and SEM areas, Yahoo has quitely rolled out something very similar to the famous Google PageRank. This is a system that allows Yahoo to calculate the rank of any Web site by leveraging the browsing habits when using the new Yahoo!'s Web Rank Toolbar. The ranking mechanism places any individual Web site on a popularity scale going from 1 to 10 based on the number of links pointing to that site and other factors Yahoo takes into account. For those who wish not to install the new Yahoo Web Rank Toolbar, or that do not have MSIE installed as their default browser, Yahoo Web Rank data can also be accessed by by going to http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/webrank/
(March 29th 2004 - Source: Yahoo's Own PageRank: Web Rank - RG News)
Given the very recent introduction of this tool, its relatively limited adoption and the results I have seen during my ongoing tests, I would not consider this a critical authority indicator, made exception for the top 100,000 sites, for which, given enough time, the statistical data will provide some useful reference information. Promising.
Link Appeal calculates the desirability rating of having a link on the url you specify. This calculation includes four factors:
a) Google PageRank
b) number of outbound links
c) the overall percentage of links to html
d) Alexa traffic ranking
Link appeal calculates an overall score (1-10) based on the above factors.
Ranking offers a similar service to Alexa attempting to provide absolute ranking, page views, visitors, links and authority value to each and every site measured. Unfortunately results are far from being anything I would rely on. Ranking.com utilizes an approach similar to Alexa's by
polling the browsing behaviour of all users of the Browser Accelerator software/toolbar sold by a sister company (both are woned by EMERgency24 Inc.). The overall polling sample is a group made of under a million users, hardly providing any effective statistical relevance to the data reported on a global Internet scale.
Unreliable. Use only as a testing reference or to measure Top 10,000 performers.
Also inside the blogosphere there are multiple services which greatly facilitate the measurement of authority of and popularity of any blog site. By utilizing link popularity, the number of citations on other sites and the number of trackbacks from other blogs. Far from being very precise in absolute terms, some of these indicators offer a good, relative measure, of a blog popularity, authority and consequent credibility in its field.
Technorati provides the most respected and comprehensive authority index about the blogosphere. Technorati allows easy assessment of any weblog popularity/authority by providing a uniquely valuable statistical census of the blogosphere in near-real-time.
By querying the Technorati search interface with the URL of a weblog one is provided with the following information:
a) the number of blogs linking a specified blog
b) the total number of links arriving to that blog from the previous blogs
(When it works), Technorati provides an outstanding authority indicator for any active Weblog on the Internet.
Link ranks are a way of measuring the strength, persistence, and vitality of links appearing in weblogs. From this data is possible to extract valuable information supporting the ranking of blog sites according to their link popularity and value. Link ranks takes into consideration scores for each linking site; domains are then scored also with reference to the values of the sites that link to them. The theory is basically that these are the links you're most likely to click on, if you read a weblog at random. Unlike Google's PageRank system, link ranks are not iterative. Rather, PubSub bases Link ranks on a simple formula that only looks at local links - links which are within one or two steps of any target site. Also important to note is that Link ranks only looks at links which are in weblog entries - and not those that may appear on the side bars or inside so-called blogrolls. To calculate link ranks, PubSub generates a link score for each domain. Link scores are calculated in three steps: first, a point value is found for every site that links to other sites. Second, the point values are used to generate link scores for each domain. Finally, the daily scores are weighted over a fixed period to arrive at an aggregate score for the site - this ensures that more recent links are given more value than older links.
The DayPop Blogstats facility shows a blog's ranking in terms of Daypop's citation scoring. It also shows similar weblogs based on link patterns (only the Top 1000 blogs ranked by Citations and Daypop Sponsors' Blogs have data for Similar Blogs). A new service, with some interesting features, but too little documentation. To be followed. (Unfortunately scoring criteria are not explained on the site.)
Backlinks with TouchGraph GoogleBrowser
Few people know that the TouchGraph GoogleBrowser offers a fascinating visual view of the backlinks to any Web site. Fascinating for serendipitous exploration, visual comparisons and experimental research. Mostly unusable for effective statistical reference and authority assessment.
Tactical usefulness. Exploratory and research use.
The Stanford Web Credibility Research Project
The Stanford Web Credibility Research Project goal is to understand what leads people to believe what they find on the Web. As part of this ongoing project the Stanford Web Credibility Research Project:
Evidence-based articles on Web credibility
To subscribe to their newsletter please send a request to:
Captology - Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab
The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab creates insight into how computing products -- from websites to mobile phone software -- can be designed to change what people believe and what they do. Like human persuaders, persuasive interactive technologies can bring about positive changes in many domains, including health, business, safety, and education. With such ends in mind, the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab is creating a body of expertise in the design, theory, and analysis of persuasive technologies, an area called "captology."
Learn more about captology and its key core concepts:
To subscribe to their newsletter please go to:
Name Recognition and Reputation
Identity of Site Operator
Past Experience with Site
Performance on Test by User
"The data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes. This reliance on a site's overall visual appeal to gauge its credibility occurred more often with some categories of sites then others. Consumer credibility-related comments about visual design issues occurred with more frequency with finance (54.6%), search engines (52.6%), travel (50.5%), and e-commerce sites (46.2%), and with less frequency when assessing health (41.8%), news (39.6%), and nonprofit (39.4%) sites."
How Do Experts Evaluate the Credibility of Web Sites?
Related to the research above, thisis a study that compared how experts and nonexperts evaluated the credibility of Web sites. The focus was on health sites and finance sites. This research was done by the Stanford Web Credibility Research Project group in partnership with Sliced Bread Design, LLC, and Consumer Webwatch, a part of Consumers Union (the nonprofit folks who publish Consumer Reports).
Consumer WebWatch Guidelines To Improve Credibility
3) Customer Service:
These guidelines are by no means exhaustive, but they are based on the results of an http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/bestpractices/index.html">extensive research project conducted by Consumer WebWatch in December 2001 and January 2002; on expert opinion from our board of advisers and other information professionals; and other qualitative research.
An Educators' Guide to Credibility and Web Evaluation
"You may have heard that 'knowledge is power,' or that information, the raw material of knowledge, is power. But the truth is that only some information is power: reliable information" ( Harris, R. ). The Internet is a virtual library, consisting of an unlimited amount of information. Anyone is allowed to publish and access this information. Furthermore, the sites are created for a variety of purposes to inform, persuade, sell, and change an attitude or belief. The sites are not monitored, edited, regulated, or approved. All of these factors remind us of the fact that information that has been published on the Web, is no indication of its believability or accuracy. ...
A resource that is credible is one which shows evidence of authenticity, reliability and believability ( Harris, R. ). Basically, the key to credibility is trust; How well can one trust the information found on the Internet, as well as other resources?"
it also includes:
"Perceived expertise, bias, fairness, truthfulness, accuracy, amount of use, depth or completeness of message, prior knowledge and message quality have all emerged as components of credibility.
Recognizing the large number of indicators and dimensions used to assess the construct of credibility, West (1994) validated two frequently used scales of credibility, by Gaziano and McGrath (1986) and Meyer (1988). The five dimensions created in the Meyer (1988) study were found to be: "...valid and reliable measures of credibility; they consisted of fairness, bias, depth, accuracy, and trustworthiness." (West, 1994, alpha = .92, p. 163). These five indicators, as well as 12 others, were listed in the Gaziano and McGrath (1986) scale. When evaluating which items to include, it must be determined whether credibility of the source or of the stimuli (content) is being measured, and whether credibility should be measured from the receiver's perspective or from the source's attributes. (Rubin, Palmgreen, & Sypher, 1994). That being said, this study identified items related to the content from the receiver's perspective.
While these as well as other dimensions have been found to be significant components in understanding perceived credibility, there are other factors that have helped to gain understanding of how people perceive credibility, such as age, education, amount of use, reliance and medium (Greenberg, 1966; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Wanta & Hu, 1994). Although earlier studies had indicated that television was a more credible information source than newspapapers for most people, a more recent evaluation of media credibility indicated that people consider information obtained online to be as credible as television, radio, and magazine information, but not as credible as information in newspapers (Flanigan & Metzger, 2000)."
Source: Credibility Assessments of Online Health Information: The Effects of Source Expertise and Knowledge of Content
Matthew S. Eastin
School of Journalism and Communication
The Ohio State University
How Do You Measure Web Site Success?
How do you measure the success of your Web site? As more and more people ask me this question, I have learned that the answer is never the same. Though there are some effective public indicators of your site success, it is evident that unless the goals have been defined in detail, success will remain an epheremous goal to reach. Here are my seven recommended steps you need to take to be able to measure the success of your Web site in a reliable and sound way.
Suggest Other Resources
I am sure I am missing on some other valuable resources out there that may be able to well complement this initial resource list.
If you are aware of them, please do not hesitate in submitting them to me via either the comments area here below or by sending me an email at Robin.Good[at]masternewmedia.org
Originally written by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia.