Web sleuthing – Part 3 – Open SEO Stats

Open SEO Stats is a handy little extension for the Chrome Web Browser.  Here are some mildly useful things you can glean from this tool.

SEO-tool

Geolocation information

All IP addresses are generally associated with a physical address.  The SEO tool automatically performs a reverse IP lookup to figure out the location of the web server hosting the webpage.  This is useful when researching Chinese companies.  Because China heavily censors its Internet, it makes a small difference as to whether or not the server is located in China or outside China.  If located inside China, the webpage should ideally have an ICP number so that it will not arbitrarily be blocked by Chinese Internet censors.

Websites on servers outside China do not need ICP numbers.  However, there is a theoretical chance that the website will be blocked.  It is better to host the website inside China if a business wants to minimize the risk of its website being blocked.

Some websites use content delivery networks (CDNs) from companies like ChinaCache (NASDAQ:CCIH), Akamai, etc.  In that case, the IP address of the web server will depend on where you are trying to access the website from.  VIP.com (NASDAQ:VIPS) for example uses ChinaCache.  If you access the vip.com from North America, you will get a North American web server.  If you access it from China, you will get a Chinese web server.  This speeds up the load times of the website for both Chinese and North American visitors.  Various websites like WebsitePulse.com offer tools to check a website from within and outside China.

Chinese companies will often have a website designed for North American investors that is hosted on a North American server.  It will not have an ICP number; there is a chance that the website can be blocked in China.  Chinese companies will often have a website for the operating business that is hosted on a Chinese web server.

Pagerank

Google’s Pagerank depends mainly on two things:

  1. How many legitimate websites link to a particular page.
  2. If a webmaster is trying to egregiously game the Google search engine algorithms (with “blackhat” SEO tactics), a webpage may be penalized with a Pagerank of 0 (or other very low number).

As investors, #1 is mildly useful as an indicator of how popular a company is on the Internet.  However, Pagerank does not correlate very well with a website’s traffic or a company’s revenue.  I generally look to see if the Pagerank is 0 or not.  A Pagerank of 0 usually indicates that a company is being ignored by other websites and that the business is extremely small.

Link Stats –> Outbound links

For Chinese companies, it is easy to find the website targeted towards investors.  However, I find it useful to find the website for the operating business (which is generally hosted on a Chinese server).  One way to find the other websites is to look at the outbound links on the investor website.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

*Disclosure: Currently no positions in the companies mentioned (VIPS, Akamai, CCIH, GOOG/L).

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