It is the rank of preference of social networking websites or blogs or forums for the netizens. This rank is based on the number of hits to the website by directly typing-in the web address of that particular site in the address bar.
The rank doesn’t consider linking to the website through search engines or sponsored links or through keywords as a hit. This is the most explicit and conservative way to measure the performance of the website. There are no loopholes which can be exposed in the measurement in this way. However marketers believe in practicality of the situation. For them, the number of hits matter, the method is immaterial. The exposure to the advertiser or any other content is of importance.
There is though a slight issue about the type of people who visit. This depends on:
Geographical region: whether the person is from the US, or Europe or Asia or Africa.
The premium for the website depends on the type of geographical regions access to the content. An American or European is more willing to share the content of necessary or refer it to friends. The amount of time the person sits online is of consideration here. Internet is easily accessible in the developed world as against very less in the developing countries whereas almost negligible in third world countries.
Demographics: this includes age, gender and the purchasing power.
Women of any age, generally, are more averse to purchasing online. They like to feel and have look at the product before buying it. However women are quite susceptible to the lure of the products on internet. Promotional offers are made especially to entice them into purchasing the product. The behaviour of women online or offline isn’t much different. Men, on the other hand, are quite easy with technology and there are not too fussy about stuff except if it technology based since they like it to be the latest gizmo if they want to buy it online. Both these things are said considering that they have the requisite purchasing power. This is true in case of people on developed world but not in developing countries.
Thus social networking sites are involved in a ranking race to get the best revenues. My space, Facebook and Orkut may not be in the top 3 ranks but they are in the top 3 atleast as far as customer perception goes.