Ever wonder about the popularity of a website, who’s going to that website or what keywords they’re targeting for search? Well there’s a way to get that information and more for free.

analytics

Services like Nielson, Comscore and Hitwise gather data on websites and are very informative, but expensive and generally for enterprise level customers. They get their information from server logs (data stored on the websites computer or hosting company) and by polling a small sample of users called panels.

What’s great about the web is that there’s data everywhere and no shortage of innovation that collect or “mashup” all this data. There are free services that collect web traffic from server logs and also assemble information from many different sources that can give you a remarkable amount of information about your competitor’s website, your website or a website of a company you’re doing research on. In this article, I will introduce you to some of my favorites.

Before we dive into the sites, there’s a couple of important things you should know before dropping this information in a business plan or your million dollar proposal. Because these are generally free sites, some discount the information as inaccurate and you will notice discrepancies in the results from site to site. Using and comparing  a couple of these sites will help validate the information you’re seeing, but, as even with the premium services, are just estimations from various sample sizes. Also important to note is that some

Compete.com

Example of Compete.com
Good for:

  • General traffic and trend information.
  • For comparing up to five sites.
  • Information on where users are coming from and what keywords they’re using.

Alexa.com

alexa

Good for:

  • General traffic and trend information. Doesn’t estimate numbers, but just an arbitrary scale.
  • For comparing up to five sites.
  • Information on where users are coming from and what keywords they’re using.

Quantcast.com

quantast

Good For:

  • General traffic and trend information.
  • Some demographic information

Website Info Mashups

These are sites that gather information from many different sources, sometimes called “mashups”, and displays that information on one page. These work best for popular or larger sites. While they present some traffic information, these are good

Quarkbase.com

quarkbase.com

Good for:

  • General information about a website
  • Has good information about the company
  • Social popularity and links, articles from social sites

Dataopedia.com

dataopedia

Good for:

  • General information about a website
  • Social popularity and links, articles from social sites
  • Finding geeky information about what application the website is using.