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Alexa Rank : The Facts And Follies

Posted in Blogging By Rohan

Think Beyond How To Get A Better Alexa Rank

Before I start with the article, as opposed to the popular notion you may have in your mind after reading the title that this post pertains to either how to get a higher Alexa rank or how worthless the alexa ranking metric is, since it is flawed; let me assure you, it is not!

Alexa

People have already made thousands of misleading pieces of information related to alexa that range from linking it to various other third party applications like adsense to having a higher ranking in SERPs and frankly I would not care to correct their misconceptions because their knowledge stems from another misleading post (just like theirs) which they read on their favorite blog.

So here I am introducing to the real facts about Alexa that will let you see for yourself how much importance it deserves, or whether it deserves it at all or not!

Background Check

1. For the skeptics and others who feel Alexa is a new kid in town, Alexa began in 1996 April, just one month after Google was founded. That does not make it a new player in web analytics and online solutions does it?

2. One of the first versions of third party web crawlers was designed by alexa

3. A list of sites sorted by geography, niche and other strategic metrics can be downloaded officially from the Amazon website which officially hosts alexa.

Authenticity of Data from Alexa

As opposed to the popular belief that alexa counts only the number of hits from the alexa toolbar it also collects detailed statistical data which includes, but not limited to IP address , browser version and cookies, click stream and referrals including time on site and clickthroughs which is a big deal considering that it can fetch all this information without the user having to install an asynchronous script within the HTML of the site like Google analytics.

It fetches its major chunk of statistical data from third party analytics company by tagging all users with a universal cookie called the identifier which tracks user behavior on the site and tracks future activities of the person. This also works for contextual browsing data to be able to rank sites based on relevancy to niche and segregating it from ‘random traffic’.

It also has a feature to allow tracking of statistical data from social bookmarking sites and third party apps to track user behavior and aggregate the true reach of your site as a whole and help you optimize your efforts and expenses accordingly.

Time for some tough love

Let’s see the hard facts about alexa

1. The data it fetches from all its sources has a major influence by its toolbar statistics. But as opposed to the popular belief that it is the only data it considers (this would not have been a myth if you were in 2008 ), it actually fetches data from various sources and there is also buzz of data sharing with Yahoo API .

2. Alexa changed its algorithm in 2008 with a drastic impact on many sites but it also meant more accurate data since it reduced its dependence on the toolbar data

3. Most of the well known anti-virus softwares today, including Windows firewall have tagged the alexa toolbar as spyware, adware and malware respectively since it does not follow the ethical practice for third party tracking and cookie settings. Technically they are right since the permanent cookies the toolbar sets is a kind of intrusion of privacy even if they claim that it is not used for malicious activities.

Myth Busters

Even after knowing the pros and cons of alexa there will always be people who will like ot blow smoke from myths and pass on the same misleading information to a generation of new webmasters so I would like to conclude the article with these myth busters:

1. Alexa And Google SERPs Is Not Related
Lately many novice bloggers have been cooking up stories that claim that a better alexa rank will translate into a better SERP but that is completely irrelevant and baseless. The converse might be true in some cases only because of an indirect relation because a higher SERP may lead to higher traffic and higher traffic would lead to a better Alexa rank but not vice versa.

2. Alexa and PageRank Are Not Related
Pagerank is Google’s way of rating websites just like Alexa has its own parameters to rate websites based on various factors like traffic . The PR algorithm rates websites based on its own complex set of metrics which include a lot of other things but let me assure you that Alexa is not one of them!

3. Alexa is most widely used Metric

Alexa is the most widely used metric to assess a website for advertisements and collaborations and undoubtedly the most widely used metric by bloggers for analysis and statistics purposes.

Conclusion :

I hope that after having shed some much needed light on a well known analytics company whose name was derived as a tribute to the library of Alexandria – which symbolizes a storehouse of knowledge, people start referring to it with a little more respect than ‘Alexa is crap’ and for the others that have hyped the capabilities with the myths that we busted above hope the article serves as an eye-opener.

Trending topics have always been a favorite topic of discussion for bloggers , not to mention , they are also the most twisted and misquoted topics in the webmaster world . Here we are busting those myths and sharing clean and researched information with people.

If you have any thoughts about Alexa as a company or your alexa ranking , please drop in your thoughts in the comments section below, I would be happy to address all your concerns.

19 comments
Web Design Company
Web Design Company

I had heard about Alexa ranking but was not really familiar with it in real. Thanks for the informative post. This post is helpful for me.

Camaro Car Sales
Camaro Car Sales

So it's obvious if you get even 1k unique visits daily, but only a few people will have alexa toolbar, your rankings won't be that good, comparing to someone with way less traffic, but way more visitors with alexa toolbar.

Am i correct?

Khalid Mohamed
Khalid Mohamed

Great article. It really reaffirms what I've learned from my own research, but you educated me when you said that the Alexa does not get all of its data from their toolbar.

Although Alexa ranking is not directly related to SERP it still has it's place. I personally use it as an indication as to how well my inbound marketing strategies are working.

It will always have its place in web development.

Watch movies online
Watch movies online

The only reason I tryi to increase AlexaRang is link sales by TLA :-)
They need good AlexaRang for blog's.
The only resason :-)

woman
woman

Alexa is a useful resource for webmasters to discover information about websites. Alexa Rankings and Google PR are two of the main factors uninformed people look at when considering link exchanges. This is reason enough to install the Alexa Tool Bar.

Sereyboth
Sereyboth

If you are not going to flip the website or to attract the advertiser, you don't need to spend a single second to care about Alexa ranking!

Rohan
Rohan

That is right Sereyboth , alexa is only important while flipping and advertising otherwise it serves no use for evaluation in any way .

Rojish
Rojish

Very useful post Rohan, this will give a good knowledge for people still wondering what is Alexa.

Yesterday my blog crossed 100K in Alexa. But truthfully speaking I do not think Alexa rank is accurate (but there is no other better tools at this stage). I have found many blogs with much more number of visitors but still don't have a good Alexa rank. Anyway I love having a good Alexa rank because it shows some credibility about our blog in the eyes of readers as well as advertisers.

Rohan
Rohan

The alexa rank is not accurate but it is an evaluation tool used by the customers to read about a sites authenticity . No matter how much one would hate it, there is no escaping the vicious circle of ranking and comparing even though the metric in concern is flawed .

Mehboob Talukdar
Mehboob Talukdar

Great post.
I frequently use Alexa to optimizing my blog.
Thanks for giving more information and fact about Alexa.

Rohan
Rohan

Alexa for optimizing blog ?
Pardon me , but what exactly are you referring to....

liaqat
liaqat

"Windows firewall have tagged the alexa toolbar as spyware, adware and malware respectively since it does not follow the ethical practice for third party tracking and cookie settings."

lol i am going to check this now :P
this is EPIC :D

jokes apart, alexa for me is very important as it brings more advertisers to my blog :P

Rohan
Rohan

That is a fact most of the people would already know , that major anti-virus would detect alexa as malware an spyware ....
Anyways , thanks for dropping by ...

gourav
gourav

you have written interesting facts about alexa ranking,enjoyed your post thanks for sharing man.........

Rohan
Rohan

You are welcome buddy , thanks for dropping by :)

Satish
Satish

This wonderful post has revealed many of the interesting facts about Alexa. all these days i was waiting for a good Alexa rank for my site. and i don't think its not that important after reading this. Thanks for the post man ;)

Rohan
Rohan

Even if the analytics and accuracy is ignored or assumed to be completely flawed as some people would say , no one can deny the fact that Alexa is STILL the thing that their advertisers would look for while doing business with them so it is naturally worth something !

Thanks for dropping by !

Web Design Sheffield
Web Design Sheffield

I am fairly happy for the facts that you discussed in this post about Alexa. But most of us know that Alexa ranking is not too accurate. But it is still very important in webmaster world. People can’t ignore it, that's the real fact!

Rohan
Rohan

Yes alexa ranking is not accurate for the fact that it takes its data from the toolbar but that is more true for sites with lesser traffic . As the traffic starts increasing and your rank starts getting better the ranking actually starts getting accurate , that is the point in fetching analytics from a third party service other than the toolbar which they started way back in 2008 .

Though it counts for nothing , but it still is not as 'crap' as people have made it to be ;)