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Popular price comparison sites – April 2008

This is April 2008 revision of the Popular Price Comparison web sites list. You can find the last month revision of the list here.

Just like I did with deal sites, I had to tighten the requirement down to 50,000 to keep the list manageable after Alexa reworked their measuring algorithm.

These changes in rank below are for the most part meaningless because what they reflect is who of these price comparison sites benefited more from the algorithm changes. The next month list will be more fun to watch.

# Web Site Alexa Rank Page Rank Online Since
1 shopping.yahoo.com 1 (*) 8 18-Jan-1995
2 froogle.google.com 2 (*) 8 11-Sep-2001
3 shopping.msn.com 5 (*) 8 (1) 10-Nov-1994
4 shopping.aol.com 21 (*) 8 (1) 22-Jun-1995
5 shopper.cnet.com (info) 137 (*) 7 05-Jul-1996
6 shopping.com 347 (31.96%) 7 03-Jul-1997
7 dealtime.com 467 (21.91%) 7 07-Oct-1998
8 nextag.com 532 (40.69%) 7 (1) 15-Oct-1998
9 bizrate.com 618 (42.51%) 7 24-Apr-1996
10 (1) shoplocal.com 838 (47.66%) 8 24-Sep-1998
11 (1) pricegrabber.com (info) 839 (44.98%) 8 10-Mar-1999
12 shopzilla.com 1128 (52.02%) 7 04-Jul-2002
13 (2) epinions.com 1622 (53.95%) 7 12-Feb-1999
14 (1) pronto.com 1799 (41.25%) 7 (1) 01-Jan-2006
15 (1) smarter.com 1808 (48.49%) 6 28-Apr-1998
16 (1) become.com 2772 (47.29%) 6 20-Jan-2004
17 (1) calibex.com 4094 (9.18%) 4 02-Oct-2000
18 pricerunner.com 4972 (41.53%) 7 (1) 19-May-1999
19 mysimon.com 5750 (41.85%) 8 (1) 15-Apr-1998
20 thefind.com (info) 7310 (29.21%) 6 19-Oct-2006
21 (2) like.com 10017 (56.31%) 5 22-Feb-1995
22 retrevo.com 11210 (46.79%) 6 (1) 10-May-2006
23 (2) pricewatch.com 11315 (42.38%) 6 26-Sep-1995
24 ebates.com 11677 (50.94%) 6 29-Dec-1998
25 sortprice.com 19416 (42.07%) 6 (1) 15-Jan-2004
26 (5) dealighted.com (info) 22049 (59.97%) 6 09-Oct-2006
27 (1) bestwebbuys.com 24681 (27.49%) 7 06-Jan-1998
28 (1) shopwiki.com 27553 (37.87%) 5 15-Dec-2004
29 (2) jellyfish.com 29942 (25.44%) 5 26-Jun-2006
30 pricescan.com 35620 (34.12%) 6 03-Sep-1997
31 (3) mpire.com 35744 (11.27%) 6 01-Jun-2006

(*) Note: traffic stats for these sites is an aggregate of all traffic to the top domain (e.g. Yahoo.com or Google.com) and thus cannot be used to judge how popular this particular price comparison service is.

Popular deal sites – April 2008

This is April 2008 revision of the Popular Deal Sites list. You can find the last month revision of the list here.

The change in rating shows the difference compared to March results and includes all deal sites from my database that meet Alexa Rank < 50,000 requirement. As you can see, the ratings have changed dramatically after Alexa reworked their measuring algorithm. To keep the list at the same length I had to tighten the requirement (it was 100,000 before).

It looks like all sites benefited about the same from this latest change each gaining 40-60% in the ranking. This is similar to what coupon sites went through last month. These changes in rank are meaningless though because they for the most part reflect who of these deal sites benefited the most (and the least) from the algorithm changes

# Web Site Alexa Rank Page Rank Online Since
1 slickdeals.net (info) 496 (54.54%) 6 10-Nov-1999
2 fatwallet.com (info) 937 (53.22%) 6 29-Nov-1999
3 anandtech.com 2901 (39.84%) 6 24-Aug-1997
4 deals2buy.com (info) 2968 (57.65%) 4 15-Nov-2002
5 dealnews.com (info) 3043 (57.11%) 6 20-Jan-1999
6 techbargains.com (info) 3285 (61.51%) 6 (1) 03-May-1999
7 bensbargains.net 3691 (60.88%) 5 21-Mar-2000
8 dealsea.com 4095 (56.61%) 5 27-Jun-2001
9 dealcatcher.com 6922 (59.05%) 6 (1) 28-Jul-1999
10 dealspl.us (info) 9418 (49.03%) 6 (1) 15-May-2006
11 edealinfo.com 10709 (54.99%) 5 (1) 12-Dec-2000
12 (4) spoofee.com 11346 (58.31%) 4 31-Dec-2000
13 (1) cheapstingybargains.com 11855 (55.58%) 5 20-Jan-2005
14 (2) xpbargains.com 12218 (53.2%) 5 29-Nov-2001
15 (2) dealigg.com (info) 13182 (49.52%) 4 04-Sep-2006
16 (1) resellerratings.com (info) 13662 (49.73%) 6 18-Jun-1998
17 (1) dealsofamerica.com 14441 (55.04%) 4 06-Sep-2003
18 (1) dealtaker.com (info) 15566 (48.72%) 5 08-Feb-2004
19 dealofday.com 22210 (46.08%) 7 30-Aug-1999
20 gottadeal.com 23350 (50.81%) 5 27-Jan-2003
21 bargainist.com (info) 34328 (46.18%) 5 (-1) 21-Nov-2006
22 gotapex.com 36331 (50.82%) 5 29-Apr-1999
23 dealslist.com 39802 (48.26%) 4 18-Jul-2000
24 judysbook.com 40644 (48.19%) 6 11-Aug-2003
25 bradsdeals.com 46848 (44.44%) 5 29-Jun-2005

Amazon vs. Statsaholic, the chronology of events

You might probably know that I am extensively using Alexa API on my blog to generate those monthly lists of popular sites. It should come as no surprise that I have gotten interested in the events related to Amazon vs. Statsaholic dispute which flooded news over the past several days.

To sort things out, I have come up with a brief chronology of events. Just the facts. The opinions will go to comments. ;-)

March 11, 2006 Ron Hornbaker launches Alexaholic

The website offers a more convenient interface to the same data that Alexa itself provides. Apparently Alexaholic didn’t use API to obtain the information, instead it hot-linked the images from Alexa. The reason? I can think of one. Alexa didn’t offer graphs API at that time.

April 11, 2006 Alexa compliments it in their blog

Traffic Graph Enhancements. Our enhancements may not be as cool as Alexaholic, but they are a significant improvement. We’ve extended the maximum time frame and fixed some minor annoyances.

March 19, 2007 Almost a year later, in a change of mood, Amazon forces Alexaholic domain name change. These are comments by Mike Arrington from Techcrunch:

Instead of embracing the service, Amazon has at times tried to shut it down, and is now trying to obtain the domain name under a trademark infringement action.

Ron did change the domain to Statsaholic but kept ownership of the original domain to drive traffic to the tool.

March 24, 2007 Alexa offers it’s side of the story.

They stress that Alexaholic “very clearly misappropriated the Alexa name” and defend themselves by mentioning the fact that they tried to resolve the issue via acquisition negotiations.

March 26, 2007 Alexa blocks Statsaholic from hot-linking traffic charts

It looks no less than a war between Alexa and Statsaholic at this point. Here are comments from Ron Hornbaker’s blog:

Alexa started blocking their graphs from appearing on the Statsaholic website by sniffing the referer header as the requests hit their servers…

Key Question: Why hasn’t Alexa made the graphs part of their official API and charged per request? They’ve done it with their website thumbnail images, and with data, but why not with the graphs? I would be their FIRST CUSTOMER for such a service, as long as it was priced appropriately.

April 3, 2007 Alexa slaps a huge logo on background of its graphs.

I can spot fairly negative reaction to the change.

Alexa data is far from accurate and this latest “watermark” development might reduce their popularity even more.The charts look more like an advertisement of Alexa than anything useful.

April 17, 2007 Alexa offers Traffic Graphs as a web service

…but limits the usability of the data making the charts they offer from Alexa.com superior. For example the API allows to compare only 3 websites while Alexa.com allows up to 5.

April 18, 2007 Amazon sues Ron Hornbaker over Statsaholic (PDF file)

Alan Graham of ZDNet gives a great overview. If I were to pick just one sentence that summarizes it, it would be this:

The simple fact of the matter is that Ron Hornbaker built a better Alexa and as soon as it started to gain traction, and Alexa had already borrowed all the ideas it wanted from Alexaholic, they no longer needed it.

April 19, 2007 Pete Cashmore at Mashable launches a petition against the lawsuit in an attempt to get the matter a better visibility.

Pete notes an interesting point. In the lawsuit, Alexa claims that the data is proprietary, while in fact they rely on the community to obtain it. All the traffic data that Alexa has is gathered from people using Alexa toolbars in their browsers.

April 20, 2007 Tim O’Reilly interviews Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at the Web 2.0 Expo

Tim doesn’t seem to be taking any side in particular.

It appears to me that both Alexa and Ron Hornbaker have been acting somewhat foolishly here. Alexa should have taken an early lead to bring Ron into their fold… Meanwhile, Ron should have been more flexible and respectful. It is, after all, Alexa’s data that he’s using — and only that data.

April 22, 2007 Techcrunch gives the news a new spin by disclosing some nasty facts from the past of Alexaholic’s owner.

The story now becomes a total mess. I very much hope the sides are still able to come to a settlement. However my hope fades with each day. Knowing what Amazon did in the past, it is not hard to guess that they clearly have issues with long term thinking. :-(

Comparing Finance blogs, follow up analysis

I spent some time last night collecting stats and putting them together. The result is a huge table with a lot of numbers which by itself is pretty useless unless you want to use it as a reference.

My goal however was not to impress you with the amount of information but to find if Alexa and Technorati can be valuable tools in estimating a blog (or any website for that matter) popularity.

My assumption was that if blogs belong to the same category and the visitors demographics is similar then Alexa and Technorati ranks can be very precise when compared in a group relative to each other.

How the data was analyzed

The sample set included 62 Personal Finance blogs and you can browse the complete table with raw stats here. I fed this data into a statistical analysis tool and ran several correlation tests between the data sets.

Correlation in statistics is a number ranging from -1.0 to +1.0. The closer it is to +1 or -1, the more closely the two variables are related. A value close to 0 means little relationship. If you want to find more about correlation, here is a good article with some real life examples.

In addition I threw in another statistical coefficient, significance level. This is a number from 0 to 1 which shows how likely a result is due to a pure chance. For better readability, I will show (1 - significance level) so values close to 1 will mean the correlation is more significant (is likely to be true).

Sample size shows how many blogs are included in a particular calculation. Since some blogs lack certain stats, the calculations will exclude these blogs from the original set. Bigger sample set means better calculation precision.

Results: high correlation

Here are the most interesting findings. The correlation of 0.9 or more indicates that the values are highly related to each other. Please note however that correlation highlights overall statistical trend and doesn’t exclude exceptions. A good example is Not Made of Money which lags by both Alexa and Technorati but still scores impressive daily visitors counts.

Correlation Sample size Significance
Technorati to Visitors 0.95 29 ~1
Alexa to Visitors 0.86 33 ~1
Technorati to RSS 0.78 33 ~1
Del.icio.us to Visitors 0.77 33 ~1
Del.icio.us to RSS 0.72 43 ~1

Below is a scatter plot matrix which shows how the dots distribute around X/Y coordinates where Y is 1/Technorati and X is daily visitors.

Technorati to Visitors

Results: some correlation

Here are some results that show less correlation but are still very interesting to see. P/V is the number of pageviews divided by number of visits. It indicates how long the same visitor stays at the website before they leave or how often they return back during the day.

Correlation Sample size Significance
Alexa to RSS 0.46 43 0.99
RSS to Visitors 0.45 24 0.95
RSS to P/V 0.38 24 0.95
Google Rank to Del.icio.us 0.31 62 0.98
Google Rank to P/V 0.25 33 0.83
Google Rank to Visitors 0.21 33 0.75
P/V to Visitors 0.20 33 0.73

Blogs with most devoted readers

Here is another interesting list. This is a list of blogs sorted by the pageviews to visitors ratio. The high P/V can indicate two things:

  • The blog has good design and convenient navigation which encourages new visitors to stay longer and browse around;
  • The blog has devoted readers, the kind who come back several times a day to comment or check on updates.

In either case I encourage you to check out these blogs. Whatever the reason for high P/V may be, they must be doing something right.

Note, not all blogs from the original list are included since some bloggers do not publish their SiteMeter stats.

# Blog P/V
1 Blogging Away Debt 2.80
2 Mighty Bargain Hunter 2.59
3 Personal Finance Journey 2.52
4 Free Money Finance 2.01
5 The Simple Dollar 2.00
6 Experiments in Finance 1.89
7 My Two Dollars 1.85
8 Not Made of Money 1.84
9 Get Rich Slowly 1.81
10 Consumerism Commentary 1.78

Conclusion

The correlation numbers above have exceeded my expectations. Alexa and Technorati turn out to be very good indicators of a blog/website popularity if used against a group of blogs/websites from the same category. Technorati seems to be better than Alexa which goes along well with this other study done at SEOmoz.

The last list can also be of some interest, mostly for bloggers. It looks like these blogs are doing a great job with their content and/or design and encourage readers to stick around for longer. Check them out and let me know in the comments what you think about it.

Comparing Finance blogs. Is Alexa worthless?

I have heard not once that Alexa ratings are worthless. While I agree that Alexa may not be very precise in general, I believe it is a good indicator if websites from the same category are compared. The critical piece here is that the visitors’ demographics is similar. If this is the case then approximately the same percentile of visitors to each site will use Alexa toolbar, which in turn will mean that the Alexa rank will be equally weighted.

Let’s use Personal Finance blogs as our target category and verify how well indirect indicators like Alexa and Technorati correlate with direct ones, RSS readers and daily visitor/page view counts. Here are the kinds of stats I was able to collect:

Alexa Rank Alexa rank, 3 months moving average. Calculated based on data from visitors who use Alexa toolbar in their browsers.
Google Page Rank Google Page rank, updated once every 3 months. Number of back links to the blog is one of the factors affecting this number
Technorati Technorati Rank is calculated based on how many times the blog is linked by other blogs in the past 6 months
RSS Readers RSS readers count via FeedBurner. I have collected these numbers using the same trick that I used in the past
Del.icio.us Number of times the blog (with and without “www” prefix) is tagged in Del.icio.us
Daily Visitors Average daily visitors data for the past week. I was able to collect it because many blogs publish their stats via SiteMeter.
Daily Page Views Average pageviews data for the past week. Collected via SiteMeter as well.

The table below is just raw data. I spent all night compiling it and didn’t really have time to make any conclusions (the analysis is now available here). I will take a closer look at it tomorrow and will share with you what I find. Meanwhile you are welcome to do your own analysis in the comments. ;-)

Alexa Rank Google Page Rank Technorati RSS Readers Del.icio.us Daily Visitors Daily Page Views
The Simple Dollar 24189 5 1499 6455 843 13426 26893
Get Rich Slowly 26883 6 1428 19258 1884 8037 14552
Personal Finance Advice 33005 5 1934 266
I Will Teach You to be Rich 38348 6 3861 2394
Blueprint for Financial Prosperity 40822 5 8745 3411 50 2867 4437
My Money Blog 44138 6 7297 606
Consumerism Commentary 44278 0 10294 2981 214 1859 3303
Five Cent Nickel 44837 5 11891 2518 144 2701 4489
Free Money Finance 51194 6 5731 270 3044 6104
Clever Dude 63252 2 18394 417 39 491 680
Zillow Blog 69853 6 10328 2068 74
My Financial Journey 71352 4 21625 221 20 696 917
Lazy Man and Money 78837 4 412 20 426 754
All Financial Matters 79074 5 19206 2911 281 1783 3005
Money, Matter, and More Musings 90057 4 3215 772 45
Money Smart Life 91747 4 18394 368 16 709 1207
Punny Money 93784 5 35187 517 30 335 537
Neville’s Financial Blog 99697 5 18766 195
Fat Pitch Financials 104790 5 20162 1037 65 473 825
Mighty Bargain Hunter 105539 5 18976 880 81 763 1973
The Digerati Life 109456 4 2648 442 21
Personal Finance Journey 110272 6 25967 387 893 2251
Wheaties for Your Wallet 113019 6 44
The Sun’s Financial Diary 119299 4 368 16
No Credit Needed 121289 5 19077 49
Blogging Away Debt 133798 5 13230 875 76 1022 2865
My 1st Million at 33 146675 5 15264 717 91
Rate Ladder 156128 2 81 9
Binary Dollar 157077 4 363 23
Boston Gal’s Open Wallet 162412 5 18556 544 108
Getting Green 186997 3 40597 146 22 879 1357
Finandom 188080 3 90666 70 0
Getting Finances Done 190984 5 28759 1 521 802
2 Million 198539 2 25090 51
My Two Dollars 205657 4 48187 109 7 512 948
Generation X Finance 225513 4 33779 472 43 721 1088
Stop Buying Crap 240275 5 1208 123
The Finance Journey 242233 4 65769 7 104 180
Hustler Money Blog 266905 3 176 14
Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge 286264 5 43923 57 0 210 362
Queer Cents 294863 5 0 768 1299
Canadian Capitalist 309444 5 641 53
We are in Debt 329162 4 30980 499 41
My Open Wallet 329535 6 18871 460 128
Money Musings 329587 4 50507 1454 0
My Money Forest 352494 5 56308 124 21 73 95
Blunt Money 352903 3 51777 5
Ask Mr Credit Card 380771 3 0
Make Love Not Debt 389132 5 28290 94
Frugal Duchess 390220 5 32285 22 316 436
No Limits Ladies 400449 4 3712 23
How to Make a Million Dollars 402206 4 76349 21 6 61 83
Young and Broke 403449 5 71
Experiments in Finance 413163 5 56308 94 25 401 759
Zen Personal Finance 438991 6 20162 75 312 514
Its Just Money 439008 5 30980 9 607 978
Tired But Happy 457058 5 27 271 366
Single Ma’s Fabulous Financials 458701 5 27256 190 24
Fire Finance 462317 3 6579 87 6
Poorer Than You 465178 0 86478 102 2 174 284
Not Made of Money 471813 4 105218 198 2 838 1546
My Retirement Blog 495712 2 120609 0 60 93

Update: The experiment was in part inspired by this great analysis done at SEOmoz blog




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