VeriSign files two patents related to counting the web’s traffic.
Web traffic ranking companies such as comScore, Alexa, and Compete.com all have limiting factors. They use various methods to figure out traffic, such as panels (people that let them track their site visits), search data, and ISPs. But this gets them only so far.
Who has better traffic data? VeriSign, which is the registry for .com and .net.
The company has filed two patent applications related to scoring and ranking traffic to domain names.
U.S. patent applications 12/609831 (pdf) and 12/609815 were filed in 2009 and published last week. Each describes a method of using DNS queries to track web site usage. After all, VeriSign holds the authoritative key to translate domain names to IP addresses.
But it’s not perfect. As the inventors point out, many name servers use caching. This means that when two people ask to resolve the same web address, only the first user’s request might involve the name server calling to the authoritative servers. But the invention takes this into consideration with a weighting factor based on the name servers’ time-to-live (TTL), which is basically when it wipes its cache of a domain name.
The idea is interesting. So could we see VeriSign compete with the web ranking giants? I doubt it. It’s more likely that they’d offer the data to these traffic analytics companies to enhance their data sets.
comScore has smartly focused on more that just traffic data, giving it a competitive advantage. But I’m sure they wouldn’t mind getting this key data directly from the registry.