Debunking SecurityNewsDesk's Traffic Shootout Results

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 12, 2011

Over the past two months, UK publication SecurityNewsDesk has released traffic 'shootout' results that purport to show their site is in first place in the UK 'security internet communications market'. This is a weak analysis likely skewed by the company's actions itself. In this note, we break down the key problems and issues in such rankings.

SecurityNewsDesk bases its claim solely on Alexa traffic rankings - widely acknowleged as an extremely unreliable and easy to game system for sites in niche categories like security.

Alexa traffic rankings are based on individuals who voluntarily install the Alexa toolbar to track the websites they visit. A very small percentage of Internet users install this toolbar. This is especially problematic for sites, like security, that receive relatively few visits (here's a good explanation of this). The margin of error becomes very high. The results are also skewed by employees of the website using the toolbar (e.g., this blogger). Because of the structural issues with Alexa, there are actually services that can boost a site's Alexa ranking simply by having their associates go to a website on a PC with the Alexa toolbar installed.

Looking at SecurityNewsDesk Alexa profile, a number of issues stand out.

  • The most obvious is the fake review submitted by a SecurityNewsDesk employee who deceitfully exclaims "just found this great new launch site." The reviewer has 2 total reviews, both for properties owned by this company. This is a good general indicator that the company is actively seeking to boost its Alexa results. [Update: The company now claims that these reviews were not approved for release - a 'rogue' employee'.]
  • Alexa's results say that visitors to SecurityNewsDesk view nearly triple the number of pages that Info4Security do (6.2 vs 2.2). That the numbers are so much higher is a yellow flag to us that employees or friends of SecurityNewsDesk are impacting Alexa's rankings.
  • According to the other 'major' website traffic analysis providers (Compete, Quantcast and Google Ad Planner) SecurityNewsDesk does not have enough traffic to even qualify for ranking.

Independent traffic rankings are notoriously hard to accomplish especially for smaller sites. Because of this, many tricks or tactics are used to skew results or boost rankings (see a review of SourceSecurity and their approach as an example).  SecurityNewsDesk is not the first and they will certainly not be the last to engage in such a campaign.

Why This Matters

The impact is split between regular users and potential advertisers:

  • For regular users, this likely does not matter outside of perception of who is the 'biggest'. It should matter that sites that claim to provide news and information engage in deceptive practices in analyzing any market.
  • For advertisers (i.e., manufacturers), this matters a lot as readership level is a key determiner of pricing. Obviously, we do not accept advertisements. However, when we look to advertise our own services on other sites, we always want unedited reports exported from services that track direct requests to the website itself (Google analytics is the most well known of the many providers) rather than toolbar based tracking that can easily be gamed. Secondly, we discount traffic from search engines as it is generally lower quality traffic than direct visitors who are more likely to trust the site.
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Trade Magazine

Get End User Leads for Just $997 A Month on Aug 31, 2016
Scam or opportunity? As trade mags continue to suffer from the decline of print media, they are scrounging for new ways to make money. Rather than...
Hikvision Hires Trade Magazine Editor on Aug 17, 2016
Hikvision PR challenges are increasing as understanding of the company's ownership by the Chinese government broadens and concerns about the...
Trade Mag Admits 84% Prefer Online Over Print on Feb 05, 2016
Some say the industry is so old and conservative that print is still important. Well, even a print trade magazine is now admitting this is no...
Ralph Jensen Defends Lots of Gifts From Manufacturers on Sep 18, 2015
Some trade magazine editors quietly take gifts from manufacturers. Others flaunt it. Ralph Jensen is the self-proclaimed poster boy for the...
PR Firm Stacks Former Security Editors on Aug 09, 2013
CompassPR, whose clients include Tyco, Genetec, Siemens and Mobotix, is poised to become the most powerful PR agency in the security industry after...
Competitor Ad Mocks Intransa on May 29, 2013
Intransa has still made no public announcement about its reorganization, mass layoffs and quasi replacement company Viakoo. Indeed, getting a hold...
Axis Weak Banking Ads on May 29, 2013
Banking has been an IP camera laggard. Now, IP camera giant, Axis has released a series of video advertisements touting the benefits of IP over...
Manufacturer Misrepresentation on Jan 10, 2013
How excited would you be spending an hour listening to a sales guy with only a few months at a company talk about technology he has no previous...
Dumbest Awards We've Ever Seen on Dec 04, 2012
Just when you think awards couldn't get any stupider, a US trade magazine, GSN, steps up the plate with the most dumbfounding video...
Pay Real Money; Get Fake Interview on Aug 30, 2012
Interviews with manufacturers are typically boring, filled with platitudes and thinly veiled promotions. But are they actually bought and paid for?...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 27, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Hikvision EZVIZ Amazon Scam Revealed on Apr 26, 2017
Hikvision is violating US Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Amazon rules with a "Honest" Review Program scheme that provides gift cards to...
Anixter CEO Admits Price Deflation and Non-Exclusive Integrator Sales on Apr 26, 2017
Anixter's CEO has admitted to (1) price deflation impacting IP camera sales and (2) not always being 'exclusive' with security integrators. In...
Xandem Next Gen Intrusion Tested on Apr 26, 2017
Xandem's "full coverage motion tracking technology" is unlike any intrusion technology we have seen. We bought their new system and tested it...
Tri-Ed Favorability Results on Apr 25, 2017
Tri-Ed, owned by Anixter, far outranked Anixter, the lowest ranked company in our distributor favorability series. Still, Anixter's ownership did...
Eagle Eye Exec On Mountain Of Servers - VSaaS Growth Analysis on Apr 25, 2017
Eagle Eye VP of Operations, Hans Kahler, posted a picture of himself sitting on top of a shipment of new servers, as a testament to the companies...
Chinese 'Attacking Us From Every Direction', Says US FBI on Apr 25, 2017
"Chinese eating our lunch. Attacking us from every direction" said the US FBI's Deputy Director Andrew McCabe at the ASIS 2017 CSO Summit. .@FBI...
Axis Posts Strong Q1 2017 Financial Results on Apr 24, 2017
Axis posted strong numbers for Q1 2017, after having some challenges in 2016 (Q1 2016, Q3 2016). Inventory levels and overall spending show...
Axis Lowest Cost Outdoor IR Camera M2025-LE Tested on Apr 24, 2017
Axis has lagged offering low cost IR cameras while their Asian competitors have made IR standard even in their most entry level cameras. Recently,...
IPVM First Dean's List W2017 - Thomas Atkinson, Matt Hurly and Fredrik Lundqvist on Apr 24, 2017
IPVM is happy to congratulate and celebrate our first "Dean's List", the top students in our courses. For the Winter 2017 IP Networking course...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact