Google has added a new functionality to their Google Trends Product which will allow you to view estimated traffic data for individual websites. Till now Google Trends allowed you to compare only popularity of search queries. Google says that it estimates the traffic trends by combining data from a variety of sources such as aggregated Google search data, aggregated opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data, opt-in consumer panel data, and other third-party market research.
The interesting bit is that it uses aggregated opt-in-anonymous Google Analytics data. I am not sure exactly what that means. Google specifically states that individual site level information from Google Analytics isn’t currently used in Trends for Websites. One possibility that comes to my mind is that Google isn’t using direct metrics like number of page views, instead it’s accumulating hits other websites (with analytics installed) are sending your way to gauge net traffic received by your website.
This service is similar to that being offered by Alexa, Comscore and Compete (Google however doesn’t offer a traffic rank). However, I believe Google Trends has the potential to become the most accurate traffic comparison service due to the vast amount of data available exclusively to Google. Google search is the majority traffic source for large majority of websites. Hence, that alone can be an effective tool in judging a website’s popularity.
Interestingly enough you cant search for google.com. Now that doesn’t sound fare! But, hey its also unlikely that people would search for Google on google.com.
Mozilla is also working on a stealth project that will introduce an opt-in traffic monitor to its Firefox web-browser. But, I will put my bets on Google Trends to provide more accurate data. Mozilla’s traffic metric is going to be similar to Alexa. Sure, its going to have a larger sample size than Alexa and hence would be more accurate. But, it would retain many of the problems Alexa has. It’s not a mainstream product yet and doesn’t represent the entire spectra of web surfers. For example, in Mozilla’s metric Technology related websites would do comparatively better than say a Women’s gossip website.