Many businesses look up information about prospective employees and business partners on the Internet in an information gathering process.
Journalists need to find information for research as well. There are additional parties and reasons for looking up website information.
One great service that displays lots of information is Quarkbase which uses the tagline "Everything about a website". It's definitely not everything but it is more than you might expect.
The service is free and you can enter an URL in the search form or a name that can be associated with the website. The system accepts google.com, Google or Google inc for example.
Information is divided into a quick excerpt at the top with the most important information like the company name, founder, number of employees, some traffic ranks and blog URL right there.
A custom introduction follows that offers a description, contact information and a listing of similar & related sites.
The rest of the details is divided into the categories Popular, Traffic, People, Spotlight, Company and Technical; each contains a wealth of information about the website and company.
Popular refers to social popularity, bookmarks at Delicious, pages posted on Digg and Reddit, blog reactions from Technorati,references in Yahoo Answers, inbound links from Wikipedia, Digg frontpage occurrences and comments on Stumbleupon.
That's not all. You get popular pages of the week, all time popular pages and feed urls in the same category. That alone is an amazing amount of information. But that was only the Popular category.
Traffic seems to utilize information from Alexa which is not that reliable but a good indicator nevertheless in most cases.
People lists people that are associated with the domain name or company. If available their title is listed as well.
Spotlights pulls the latest references from Twitter, Techcrunch, Google News, Get Satisfaction and from Technorati if those references are available.
Technical is the last category which lists information about the web server, location, nameservers and the like.
The tool is rather extensive and well done. It could improve the traffic section by using other sources which would be nice. Other than that it gives a great overview of a domain name or company name you enter.
Popular websites are already in the index. If you request information about a website for the first time (I entered rarst.net to test it out) it is shows a progress bar and it usually takes a bit longer before the information is provided.
Update: Quarkbase is no longer available, you can use a service like Dataopedia instead which is providing you with similar information.
Update 2: Dataopedia is not available anymore as well. Use something like SimilarWeb instead for basic information.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.