For several years now, I’ve relied on Sitemeter as a reliable, “apples to apples” metric for blog traffic statistics. Aside from its reliability (it’s worth noting that Sitemeter stats are highly comparable to Google Analytics stats) another advantage to Sitemeter is that it’s commonly used by major political blogs like Daily Kos, Open Left, MyDD, etc.
If every blog used Sitemeter and made their statistics available, we’d be in great shape on this front. Unfortunately, not all blogs – for whatever reason – make their Sitemeter stats publicly available. This leads people to use seriously flawed, proxy-type metrics like Alexa’s “incoming links”-based rankings. The problem with “incoming links” is that they often have little (if any) correlation to actual traffic. Comparing Sitemeter and Google Analytics to Alexa, for instance, leads to all kinds of weird, counterintuitive, or completely nonsensical results. For that reason, I don’t use Alexa at all.
Anyway, in my continual search for “apples-to-apples”, reliable traffic statistics across blogs, the other day, I stumbled across Compete.com, “a web traffic analysis service operating in the United States that publishes the approximate number of global visitors to the top 1,000,000 web sites in the world.” Compete.com purports to compute its traffic stats “by sending the URLs that users visit to Compete.com. Compete.com then sends back the trust scores and internet ranks from its database to the users.” I found this intriguing, so I decided to see what results it produced for Virginia political blogs and compare, where available, to public Sitemeter stats. See after the “flip” for a listing of key results (note: all the statistics are from February 2010).
UPDATE: Too Conservative provided with me with their traffic statistics for February 2010 — 20,954 visits according to Google Analytics, which would rank that blog slightly ahead of Bearing Drift (using Sitemeter, which tends to be fairly comparable to Google Analytics).
*For whatever reason, a few Virginia political blogs have no public stats in either Sitemeter OR Compete.com. These include Waldo Jaquith and Vivian Paige. Thus, the discussion below does not include those blogs.
*No matter how you look at it, Not Larry Sabato is the leading Virginia political blog, 51,222 visits (in February 2010) according to Sitemeter, and 37,045 visits according to Compete.com.
*According to Sitemeter, Blue Virginia was the second largest Virginia political blog in terms of traffic (35,656 visits) in February 2010. According to Compete.com, however, Blue Virginia was #4 (with 22,941 visits), behind Bearing Drift and Below the Beltway.
*In February 2010, Bearing Drift was the third-largest Virginia political blog, according to Sitemeter (with 18,904 visits), and the second-largest according to Compete.com (24,728 visits).
*According to Compete.com, Below the Beltway was the second-largest Virginia political blog in February 2010, with 24,023 visits. Sitemeter stats are not publicly available for this blog.
*The biggest disparity between Compete.com and Sitemeter for Virginia political blogs was, by far and away, for BVBL. I have no idea why this is the case, but Sitemeter says that BVBL received 18,075 visits in February 2010, while Compete.com says it only received 1,267 visits. In this case, I would strongly suggest that Compete.com is out to lunch, and that Sitemeter is far more accurate. To be blunt, there’s no way in hell that BVBL only received 1,267 visits in February 2010.
*Other than NLS, Blue Virginia, Below the Beltway, Bearing Drift and BVBL (“B” names seem very popular in Virginia for whatever reason), the only other Virginia political blog (again, not counting Waldo Jaquith and Vivian Paige, because I can’t find any stats for them on either Compete.com or Sitemeter) that received more than 10,000 visits in February 2010 was Virginia Virtucon (14,052 visits).
*According to Compete.com, SWAC Girl received 6,142 visits in February 2010; VB Dems got 5,664 visits; Tertium Quids 4,878 visits; Crystal Clear Conservative 4,013 visits; Virginia Tea Party Patriots 3,798 visits; Too Conservative 3,567 visits (note: this seems way too low based on the # of comments over there, but they don’t have public statistics so it’s impossible to know for sure; note #2 — see update above); VA Right 3,508 visits; NOVA Town Hall 2,626 visits; Shaun Kenney 2,388 visits; Blue Commonwealth 1,235 visits; Ox Road South 824 visits; and Republitarian 44 visits. Also, according to Sitemeter, The Richmonder received 946 visits in February 2010.
*One other interesting, albeit weird, result from Compete.com is that Blue Virginia receives a higher (note: a “lower” number equates to a “higher” ranking) ranking (#170,977) than Bearing Drift (#285,641) and Below the Beltway (#259,990). I’m not sure how to explain this, although it is more in line with Sitemeter traffic stats, which have Blue Virginia at nearly double the traffic of Bearing Drift.