Sunday, November 25, 2012

An unexpected power law that relates site traffic to ranking by site traffic

How easy is it to estimate your number of site visits from site ranking and vice-versa?
Very easy: double the visits to halve the ranking.
I just blogged at about finding the connection, and how rewarding to end up with such a neat graph:
Relationship between Alexa rank and monthly visitors
Here's the data I used:
Site %Traffic Reach Est. Monthly Visitors* Alexa rank
yahoo  20 1000000000 4
craigslist  1.5 75000000 42
meetup 0.2 10000000 465
nairaland 0.08 4000000 1385
jobberman 0.02 1000000 4653
cp-africa 0.004 200000 44206
wemabank  0.00028 14000 557445

*The monthly visitors numbers are estimated by assuming jobberman has 1million visitors per month (I think that corresponds to a ranking around 5k) and that the traffic reach percentage (data given by alexa for each site) is simply number of visitors for this site / a fixed number corresponding to all traffic.  That is, take the traffic to be proportional to the traffic reach percentage.

Well, who wants to do this experiment on a large scale?
Plot Global rank against Traffic-reach % or Traffic-Reach-estimate-of-Monthly-Visitors and see how well the data fit this law. ranks at least 10million sites, so you could test with that many datapoints. 

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  1. Here is a 2003 paper (blog post) titled Weblogs and Power Laws at
    It basically shows that the distribution of blog links (links to blogs) scales according to a power law. It links to some related work as well.

    Here is my blog post on the power law I found. I spent some time this weekend thinking about site traffic, ... ended up writing "Converting between Alexa rank and number of site visitors"

    Uses of this work: Your blog is unranked - estimate a ranking. Estimate the monthly visitors (often confidential) to a selected site just by checking out their Alexa ranking (public). Estimate the number of "site visitors" on the internet - 5 billion (well, I never said they were unique visitors)
    And so on.

  2. Nice! I like! Just need to get my hands on some Alexa data to play with. Data porn all the way!

    PS: My condolences on the death of Professor Sadosky.

  3. Just saw your comment, Nate. See you soon.

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  14. ooook, looks like I got a little spam :)

    Anyway, an update.
    The number of what I called "site visitors" is increasing, I bet, and by now is likely around 10billion * The web usage metric I really mean is an unknown complex of pageviews and site visitor counts (Ref. definition below from

    We would expect the graph to shift down and to the right over the years as the web usage or site traffic in the world - that is, the constant (or near constant) product of Alexa traffic rank and monthly visitor count - continues to increase.
    If that number was around 6 billion (well, 4 - 9 bn) in late 2012, by now it might be around 10bn say, assuming the web usage in the world has increased by around 10-100%.

    From the page, we have "Our global traffic rank is a measure of how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months. The rank is calculated using a proprietary methodology that combines a site's estimated average of daily unique visitors and its estimated number of pageviews over the past 3 months."

    It would be interesting to plot a new graph and using the new data, find the new product.

  15. The constant product (the number) today is about 13billion.

  16. Many people know about that famous song that says that diamonds are girl's best friend. It is the same with web sites and email newsletters. You can't have a great email newsletter without great web site. At least it is very difficult.ipucum


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