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    Posted May 14, 2014 by
    MaryHovard

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    Living in a “Web Ranking Jungle”: Controversies & Challenges

     

    Currently, the digital world is all about numbers. Not only are numbers the core of all developed software, applications, web-platforms, and interfaces, but they are also the key to precise execution, measurement, and analysis of the products’ work. Numbers give precision to any business process; however, the rapidly evolving digital industry has elevated their value far beyond what it used to be.

    Can we trust numbers on the Web?

    Clearly, none of the proclaimed business strategies, goals, or plans can become a success if they don’t include estimated numerical values in terms of displayed performance, dynamics of growth, profits, etc. A similar pattern can be seen in the introduced concept of web rankings and ratings. Based on the collected numerical data related to a company and/or it's products and services, it seems like the more numbers a ranking displays, the more trustworthy it seems to the public. However, various surveys prove that even the most reputable Internet rankings and ratings are far from being completely objective, and hence should not be viewed as such.

    In this respect, no matter which famous ranking systems we compare, a simple experiment in counting backlinks to a certain website might show different results. Even though this difference is seldom drastic, it becomes evident that none of the existing ratings and rankings reflect the “whole picture”.

    The reason is that ranking companies usually apply their self-developed (to be read as “not revealed openly”) data measurement mechanisms and might even parse versatile datasets, accordingly. Because of this, there the subject matter becomes controversial. Even though the available data is seemingly identical, the possibility of finding an exceptionally detailed and entirely objective ranking of a website or its particular characteristics is substantially low.

    How to cope with web ranking challenges?

    Certainly, if a business displays web ranking and rating results in its brand strategy and PR activities, it's hardly necessary to assure that the shown results are objective. On the contrary, it turns out that marketers frequently choose to show optimistic rankings, even if they are aware of possible discrepancies.

     


    However, if a company wishes to get the most objective web ranking or rating, the situation is different. In this respect, the most crucial thing is to realize that none of the available systems is a perfect solution. Even the famous Google PageRank, assigned to webpages based on a complex analysis of various factors may be show skewed results.

    Therefore, the only possible strategy, which helps to cope with ranking challenges, is to combine ranking data from versatile resources and further analyze it within an integrated system framework.

    One possible algorithm is to collect Google PageRank data (the website’s overall online reputation), Alexa ranking details (e.g. in terms of geographical sources of traffic), Moonsearch analytics data (e.g. in terms of backlinks and anchors), Quantcast reports (e.g. traffic specifics, affinity data), etc. and analyze all of it in a unified in-house ranking system.

     

    Moreover, if a company extends the described list with specific industry ratings, depending on the market niche it occupies, the probability of receiving more objective ranking becomes much higher. Of course, the received results probably won’t become completely objective, but that’s not a good reason to leave things as they are, right?

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