An Authority Site Market Research Walkthrough

by Kristen Burgess
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I want to do an exercise now. Go to alexa.com and compete.com. We’re going to go to both of these tools. Note that with either of these, the free version is not going to give you what you want. They’re going to give you some of what you want. If you upgrade and use the paid version you’re going to get more. The numbers on Compete are skewed and not accurate. They’re a ballpark. We’re going to work with ballparks here. Same thing with Alexa, the numbers are not accurate, they’re skewed. They’re not accurate, they’re ballpark. But if we take some ballpark numbers, and we throw them together with some other ballpark numbers, and we apply them to a concept, we can work with something.

So, please, no questions or emails asking, “why would I use data that’s skewed?” If you want to spend thousands of dollars on data, you might get better data than this. We’re just doing a quick, free, exercise. Both data sources are skewed, but, if you’re looking at the big picture, and you’re looking at relative ranks, relative numbers, you’ll come up with something decent.

Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go to alexa.com and then at the top I want you to click on “Browse top sites”. That page will get you to something that says the top 500 sites on the web. Click “By Country”, and we’re going to use the United States. Now we could use any country we wanted, but we’re going to use United States because it generally gives you some decent results for the English language. If you’re in India, you could look at it by your country, the results will be different, the concept’s the same. For most of you, you’re going to hit on the top sites.

Now, we’re going to skip page 1. You look at the top sites; there’s 25 on the first page, and we’re going to skip page 1. Why? I’ve studied these lists before, and I’ve studied it recently for this – you find on the first top 25, these are things that have gone very viral. They’re things that when we look at this like a basket, you can look at how many are social, and how many are content, etc. You’re going to find some very interesting things. The truth of the matter is, you’re probably not going to make your website top 25 in the world in the next 10 years. Probably. Could you? Yes. Probably? No.

If we go to the 2nd page, we’re going to come up with 26 – 50. If you look at #26 – 50, you’re going to find more companies. You’re going to find a bank, you’re going to find retail organizations. You’re going to find places that are driving traffic from their stores. You’re going to find some newspapers. You’ve got Fox news, Huffington Post, Weather, Apple.com, Office.com, Yelp. You’ve got entrenched businesses on this part of the list. I want you to notice the difference. If you look at the 1st 25, it’s mostly social websites that have gone viral, or it’s content websites that have gone viral. But numbers 26 – 50 are primarily businesses. Big businesses that have gone viral. You’re probably not going to have a $100 billion business that’s going to go viral.

So, if we’re going to ask, “what’s possible?”, let’s go to the 3rd page on the list. Now if you’ll look at this list, the 1st 1/2 of this list, you’re beginning to get a mix of the top 25 and the top 50. You’ve got businesses in here, you’ve got some stuff that’s going viral, you’ve got Outbrain, you’ve got Capital One, you’ve got USPS (the postal service), you’ve got Stack Overflow. So these are things, these are large, entrenched businesses across the board that have gone viral.

Now if we go to the LAST 100… we begin to notice that these are primarily content websites that are content driven. If you want to really study this, look at page 5, page 6, etc. But I believe that this becomes the zone that you can begin to say that my big business website could get into. I’m not saying that you’ll be number 86 in the United States, or 200 in the world or anything. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that the type of website that you’re creating begins to fit into this 76+ on the top sites list.

If we went down 1 more we find even more, but we’re going to stay here. I’m going to pick a few here. First of all, Forbes.com, that’s number 77.

Now, let’s go over to compete.com, and where it says enter a website to get started, just copy and paste Forbes.com in there. Compete just tells us that on average, Forbes gets about 50 million, about 47 million unique visitors each month. So, what does it tell us if we combine these two? You may say, well, I don’t like Compete’s numbers, they’re not accurate. Maybe it’s 40 million instead 47. Maybe it’s 57 instead of 47. Does it matter when we get to this level? No. Same thing with Alexa. You can say, oh well, that’s skewed, Forbes is really 102. It really doesn’t matter at this level. If we combine these two, then we’ve got this general idea that if you’re getting 47 million visitors a month you’re the number 77th website in the United States at this point in time. These numbers kind of move up and down.

The truth of the matter is if your website only got 2 million visitors a month, you would probably be sitting pretty. Especially for a one-person website. If you were doing 2 million visitors, you would probably be making the kind of money that you would need to hire a couple of people to help you. Let’s just say.

When we look at this we say, “What does Forbes do?” We can do 2 things. #1, we can click on Forbes in Alexa, and on the free version, we can look and say “Where did people visit immediately before they came to this site?”. We find that Google sent 34% of their traffic. Facebook 5.6%, Yahoo 5%, Google, Envy and Linked in, 1 or 2% apiece. What does this tell us? This tells us that Forbes, and if you go to Forbes you’ll find it, Forbes is primarily content. And that Google is noticing what they’re doing, and they’re sending traffic. We see that 6% is Social Media driven. That’s what’s going on there.

Now, we’re going to kind of go back. We’re going to say “What about another?” What else is there, we’ve got FedEx, we’ve got Ask.com. With Ask, we’re talking a truly entrenched website with years and years and years and years. So what if we go to CBSSports.com we do the same thing, we click on CBSSports.com, and we say where’s their traffic coming from? Once again Google is up there, Yahoo is 9%, and Facebook is 7%, looks like the ESPN App is 4%, Twitter is 1%. So, what are we saying? Social sharing is a big part of this, but Google is still the #1 referrer for traffic over there. And what is CBSSports.com? If you look it up, if you go there, you’re going to find what is CBSSports.com. CBSSports.com is primarily content.

Now we say how much traffic is going to CBSSports.com? We’re going to go back to Compete, now for Compete, if you try to just put something else in that same page, and compare, they’ll say hey, you’ve got to buy a membership. So, you’ve got to start over, go back to Compete.com and enter CBSSports.com again. Now we’re seeing 11 million visitors.

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