Rambler is the second most popular search engine for Russian users with roughly 22% market share. One of their more popular tools is the Rambler Top 100 List, which shows the most popular sites in Runet. All you have to do to be included in this directory is to make use of their free online statistics service. As you might imagine, that has made it a very popular service and you frequently find the Rambler Top 100 icons in the footers of Russian websites.
Rambler generates this icon code for the user with their unique ID in the string. Once you know the ID for any site using the system, you have access to their online statistics.
You can see a live example of this issue at the leading automobile site in Russia, AutoNews.ru. If we look through their source we can quickly identify the Rambler code below. They even comment it for us!
<!-- Rambler Top100 --><img src="http://counter.rambler.ru/top100.cnt?286377" width=1 height=1 border=0><!-- /Rambler Top100 -->
The next step is to take this ID code, 286377 and place it into the following URL. You can then view that website’s statistics.
There you go (link | english version). Instant access to the statistics from one of the leading sites in Runet. Niche research is made easy, as Rambler100 lists the most popular sites by category. Page views, unique visitors and most popular entry points. I’m sure you can all think of some uses for this kind of market intelligence.
Why is this information public
That is a good question and one I have been asking Russian companies. Two reasons seem to have constently come up in conversation. First, they like to show how popular their websites are, as a badge of honor. The second reason is that using a third party statistics system like Rambler Top 100 allows them to give potential advertisers trustworthy figures.
It seems that Russian companies are not afraid of publicising their figures. Although you can opt to hide some details of your traffic, even these accounts show a considerable amount of useful information. As one unnamed search engine employee commented to me, local SEOs have probably not learnt to take advantage of this data, so companies are unaware of its strategic value.