Today there are many ways to track stats for your site, and there are services that sell collective trend information to companies that are willing to pay. One such company is Netcraft. The reason I mention them directly is that they are often considered “the standard” for information about market share for web companies, web server market share, and so on. Here is the problem. A couple of different companies have shown us our “status” with Netcraft. They attempt to break down how many domains we manage, our hosting market share and other critical market information. The information is flat out wrong. In fact, its not even close. We are MUCH larger than they show. This got me looking closely at other services that peddle this type of information. Some were accurate, but most were off in their data by 30-50%. Why is this so hard to pin down?
Sometimes the information you need just doesn’t exist and you have to approximate the data. Other times the information is made to appear a certain way because large customers must show gains in their respective area. This is common in the web server market breakdown where Microsoft will do anything to show gains in IIS by not counting Googles results as using apache, or paying off Go Daddy to use Microsoft servers for their default parked pages before a real site is loaded.
Information and data is only as good as the view to that information. Its always good to know more than less, but looking at information with a little skepticism is sometimes a good thing.
Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com