By Ryan Skinner (email)
To marketers desperate to get the most bang out of their online advertising buck, a simple ranking of the most visited web-sites in the shipping industry would be golden. Well, not surprisingly in the age of Internet entrepreneurship, someone's thought the same thing, and made a site to answer that need.
It's maritimerankings.com, and it proposes to be the compete.com of shipping sites. That is, you can pump in any 5 url's (that is, web addresses) of shipping sites, and it will run an objective algorithm to give you a ranking, both relative to the other four and over an absolute list.
Cool, huh?! According to maritimerankings.com, this blog is the 244th most authoritative web-site in all of shipping. Hot damn! Time to retire!
Strangely, no matter which five sites you enter, you will automatically be given the results of a sixth site: www.marinelink.com. This sixth entry is a US-based shipping news site, owned and run by New Wave Media. Now that alarm bells are ringing in your head, you do a WHOIS search to see who is behind this maritimerankings.com site. Surprise, the owner is hidden behind a proxy site.
Particularly when you start to search for some of MarineLink's bigger competitors, such as joc.com, maritime-executive.com and others in the US space, and discover that they all fare pretty poorly compared to marinelink.com, those alarm bells are rattling your brain.
For all the openness created by the Internet, a few things remain pretty sacrosanct. Number one: No one should be able to track your visit to a site, unless you say so. Number two: Data about traffic to a site is only really known by the site's owner. They can share it. Or they can not share it. If they don't, everyone else is pretty much going to guess what kind of traffic they get.
Compete.com and Alexa.com are two sites that aim to provide this elusive data. How do they do it? They pay American users to track their online traffic patterns, and extrapolate this data to the entire population of Internet users. This has its value, and some pitfalls. Top among those pitfalls is that everything gets very US-dominated. American sites inherently get better results.
New Wave Media's little coup with www.maritimerankings.com is clever. But treat search results with some skepticism.