If You Cite Compete Or Alexa For Anything Besides Making Fun Of Them, You’re A Moron

Earlier today, I was checking out some new questions in the TechCrunch topic area on Quora. One in particular caught my eye: How was TechCrunch traffic affected by their major redesign in July 2011?

This has been something I’ve seen asked here and there given the radical changes we implemented — and, I assume, given the audience issues Gawker faced after their recent redesign. Mostly, people seem to want to know: is TechCrunch tanking?

I was set to weigh in, when I noticed that someone else already had. This person (not affiliated with TechCrunch) painted a picture in which our site was essentially crashing and burning since the redesign (the answer has since been removed by Quora, presumably due to down-voting). Their source? Compete.

Dear Internet, I thought we’ve been over this? If you cite Compete or Alexa for anything other than making fun of them, you’re officially a moron. How bad is their data? Well, in the case of Compete, if you reversed their chart, then it would be much closer to being correct than it currently is. I seriously wonder if they’re tracking anti-visits or some new metaphysical stat I’m not aware of?

TechCrunch will set a new all-time record for traffic this month (both in uniques and pageviews), breaking the previous record — set last month. And that broke the previous record set the month before that. In other words, things are on the up and up. How do I know this? I have the luxury of seeing directly-measured results from both Google Analytics and WordPress.com’s own analytics area. Both confirm that Compete and Alexa are absolutely worthless when it comes to this type of measurement.

I mean seriously, the data from each service is so bad that I’m not clear how either is still operating. I have to cut the stat-searching public some slack because they are two of the only free public tools out there for gauging traffic data. But seriously, you’d be better off just guessing.

Yes, Quantcast is much better, but they have their own issues too, which is why we don’t expose data publicly that way.

The newer Google Trends for Websites seemed to be halfway decent for a while, but in the past year, they’ve also fallen off a cliff in terms of accuracy, it seems. Given that Google never talks about this product any more, I’m going to assume it’s one of many that has fallen into neglect — which is too bad.

As for Alexa, which is owned by Amazon, I have no idea what’s wrong with them. It seems to be more of a landing page for advertisements above all else now.

And yes, I know Compete focuses on U.S. Internet usage. But looking at our charts, that segment of the data is even more inaccurate when compared to reality. Compete has always been rather quiet about the way they actually gather data — and at times, it has sounded rather sketchy — but the fact of the matter remains constant: the data stinks.

But I will give Compete some credit: their data showcasing their own downfall does appear to be fairly accurate, as backed up by comScore.

As for the Quora question itself, I answered it there. Long story short: traffic is up pretty significantly since the redesign. Thanks all!