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Posted: August 3, 2007

The top destinations for nanotechnology on the web

(Nanowerk News) According to Alexa there are only two nanotechnology information portals among the top 200,000 websites: Nanotech-Now and Nanowerk. Given that the 100,000th ranked site gets below 0.002% of all traffic (the number one site, Yahoo, gets 28% of all traffic), nanotechnology sites have their work cut out for them.
Here is how Alexa ranks the leading nanotechnology portals (as per August 3, 2007):
Portal Traffic Rank 167,926 181,471 248,263 286,852 318,117 412,428 548,944 723,091
A word of caution: There is some controversy over how representative Alexa's user base is of typical Internet behavior. If Alexa's user base is a fair statistical sample of the internet user population (e.g., a random sample of sufficient size), Alexa's ranking should be quite accurate. In reality, not much is known about the sample and possible sampling biases. A known source of bias is the self-selecting, opt-in nature of Alexa traffic tracking software installation and until recently, for instance, the toolbar was not available for Firefox users. However, any distortion should affect all nanotechnology portals more or less the same way.
Within the bigger picture, though, all nanotech sites look pretty pale. Take a look at the following two graphs (this data is several moths old but still representative: The top one attempts to plot the top 200,000 most popular sites on the Web. It it looks like a blank graph with no data points; but look closely in the lower left corner. This is the site ranked 1,000th with some 0.11% of all Web traffic on a daily basis – it's that tiny little hooked line hanging out in the corner of the graph. The rest is a very, very long tail that flatlines for the remaining millions and millions of websites.
It looks only slightly different when you ignore the top 1,000 sites and plot sites 1,001 to 200,000 (that's where Nanotech-now and Nanowerk are). The hooked line is more visible but flatlines pretty much the same way. This distribution looks much narrower than a standard Pareto distribution.
It also means that relatively moderate changes in web traffic can tremendously impact a site's ranking within the long tail. Since that is where all the nanotechnology portals are, ranking the top three or four, for the time being, becomes a relative issue.
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