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Understanding Alexa Rankings - Lawmacs Web Design

Understanding Alexa Rankings

There are lots of statistics that we look at including Alexa statistic however do we understand this statistic or should I call it rankings. Firstly I must say thanks to Zarko of Practical Seo for inspiring me to write this post we were have a discussion today about unique hits and visits to my website and an interesting findings occur. I must say before you absorb all this information I have no scientific proof to this and I am no expert here however this is what amaze me about Alexa site ranking from the discussion we had. Do you check your Alexa rankings?

Alexa rankings changed regularly like every three months and it gives the rankings for different countries example this site lawmacs.com has at the time of writing a global rank of 115,000 but in India it is ranked 32,000, Serbia and Montenegro 17,031 Philippines 22,994 , Brazil 42,238 and here in United Kingdom 21,622. This data is useful to me because it shows where the traffic is coming from however how accurate it is another side of the coin. Understanding Alexa rankings is something I did not pay much attention to but does it has any effects on your blog Search engine ranking?

How does Alexa works? the mystery question according to Wikipedia Alexa ranks sites based on tracking information of users of its Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer and from integrated sidebars in Firefox and Chrome Hence the page is only ranked between users who have these sidebars installed and may be biased if specific audience is reluctant to do this (Windows Defender has classified the sidebar as a Trojan, a form of malware.). Also, the rank is based on three month data  and takes a long time to reflect changes in content that may happen after the domain has been sold. Finally low ranks cannot be accurate not just because of the lack of data but also because of statistic laws related to the long tail distribution. The same laws make ranking of the popular sites highly accurate.

Alexa  works by assigning a number to your website the smaller the number the better using www.lawmacs.com as an example a rank of 115,000 means base on traffic to my blog there is only 114,999 sites on the internet gets more traffic than lawmacs not bad judging from the amount of website than is around and growing by the minute. Now back to the discussion that inspires this post I have drawn one conclusion on that is the difference in traffic  between a site ranked 25,000 and one that is ranked 400,000 is not normally great because Alexa Rank most of the sites base on the toolbar installed in the browsers.

Now this is my opinion and I strongly believe that you should not worry too much about Alexa rankings, not saying you should write it off but instead Digg deeper into it and try to understand it and remember Alexa is a search engine that provides added information about a website. Now how much do you know about Alexa Rankings? Share your thoughts, and remember there is no scientific data to back me up here.

57 thoughts on “Understanding Alexa Rankings”

  1. Quite frankly, I’ve never paid much attention to my Alexa rankings. I not sure how they get their demographics but they never seem to properly reflect my visitors. For example, it says the majority of my visitors are females age 55-64 and some college education. I know for a fact that those numbers do not accurately portray my visitors profile.

    Now that you posted this article, I think I’m going to pay Alexa another visit and dig a little deeper into how they determine all their stats.

    Very interesting post my friend.

    1. Hi Thanks for dropping by hope you are doing well Alexa Ranking is something i did not pay much attention to however having any kind od statistic about your blog visitors is great but need it to be as accurate as possible so we can make the right decission about of website. Have a happy holidays.

  2. Major of companies still believes on alexa ranking. In my view and according many people out there Alexa results are not much reliable because there are ways now to manipulate it.

    1. I realize that most companies do rely on alexa rankings i remember earlier when an advertiser ask for my alexa rankings before they could make me on offer to place and ads on my site having said that have a happy holidays.

  3. I always know that data collected by Alexa is totally inaccurate, however I still need to keep track of its rank because it is still an important metric for our sites. Everybody still has the habit of evaluate a site based on Alexa ranking.

    1. This is something i have not paid much attention to in the pass however having a low alexa ranking is good but how accurate are these data i think i need to take a deeper look into how and where alex actually collects its data

    1. Installation of the toolbar is where Alexa seems to get their data from what about the users that do not install the toolbar and visit your blog? That to me shows that your site will be missing out on vital statistics

  4. Excellent post. Very useful and informative. Anyways, I haven’t bothered much about Alexa. I think it is being over-hyped. To me, Google Page Rank looks better as I do have a a good one at present 😉 I too have been discussing a lot on Alexa and have been researching a lot on the same but apart from the fact that advertisers do look at Alexa rank for advertising purpose, there is nothing more special about the same. Very recently, I removed my Alexa ranking banner from my blog to prevent any doubt from minds of potential advertisers on my blog. Anyways, it still can be checked anytime 🙁

    As a whole, I doubt if Alexa Rank should be a criteria for any advertiser to advertise on any site or blog. It certainly looks very complex and inaccurate to me. Don’t know why it gets so much hype…

    1. That is true Aswani Google page rank looks better than Alexa rankings however i am still trying to work out how and why advertisers really bothered about alexa ranks however Google page rank seems to be a thing of the past

    2. Of course Google Page Rank has not been updated since 2 Apr 2010, so it is suspect also. Hopefully they will update 31 Dec… which has previously been an update time, but we shall see.

      there are rumors that Google may be getting away from using PR entirely, the farther away we get from those public updates the worse PR becomes as a metric. As flawed as Alexa ranking is, it is at least current and provides a general idea of traffic relative to other sites.

      1. The rumours about Google doing away with PR is something we have to wait and see and as you rightly said no update for a long time i believe they just want us to ignore it and focus on other areas like “Page Speed” Thanks for adding your voice to the debate and have a wonderful holiday

    1. Thanks for adding your voice to the debate here and thanks for your kind words i will continue to update this blog as much as possible so you can sign up to get the updates.

  5. Hi Lawmacs,

    Alexa, I watch it every minute of the day. But my two months experience tells me that Alexa is not accurate, because it purposely removes information. Alexa was showing 40, 50, links to my site and then suddenly one day, my number started declining and my links dis appeared. What did this mean? How did it happen? When traffic from my hosting site did not change. Then Alexa graph that show traffic was moving up? So all of it very confusing but still I look at it.

    Now if Zarko can shed some light on it, I will understand it better.

    Nice post though, and every one has mixed opinions about it.
    Enjoy the Holiday Season.
    fran A

    1. Hi Fran Thanks for your input as you have just mentioned with the Alexa Graph i have notice similar trends too my site was in the top one hundred one week and the next it was out and the traffic remains more or less the same. I think Zarko will shed some light . Have a wonderful Holiday

  6. I’ve never been overly concerned about my alexa rank, but like most things, when it becomes a really good number then you start paying a bit more attention 😉

    1. That is so true Peter if you see a good Alexa Rankings at some point you will start taking notice however the main focus here is actually understanding the Ranking system or best of all should we pay much attention to it Have a wonderful holiday.

  7. I don’t think Alexa is accurate too. If you have installed the Alexa add-on and you visit your own website quite often, it quite easy to have your website have a higher rank also the actual clicks are low.

    1. That is a bad idea that means that anyone can trick it and gain more visits and up their rankings actually i think i will dig a little deeper into alexa and see if i can get more details. Thanks for your comment and have a wonderful holiday.

  8. Alexa ranking is just like Google PR, nobody pays attention to it, but everybody wants it. Why? If you are in business, you should know that unfortunately these are metrics that advertisers tend to look at. Alexa despite doing its calculations based only from people who have the toolbar installed is still an indication. How many people have the Alexa toolbar installed? Don’t have any clue but I am betting way over 25 million.

    Also, I use Alexa for many things. I use their metrics for optimizing content, for optimizing ads, and more. Are their rankings accurate? No, but that is just the same as the “other” ranking sites that are plastered all over the place. If you read Alexa’s own definition you will see that they themselves say that until the 100.000 mark, data are not 100% accurate and after that, the lower it is, the more accurate it gets.

  9. Thanks for sheding some light on this Ditesco as you rightly said we pay not much attention to alexa Rankings however we are glad to see the numbers However i am still a bit puzzled as to why Advertisers are still so keen to look at your alexa’s data i am assuming that the lower the number the greater the hits. Have yourself a wonderful holiday.

  10. Hi Gary. thanks, have a wonderful holidays yourself. Just my two additional two cents. advertisers don’t look solely for Alexa. They combine this with other metriecs such as PR, Compete Rank, SEOmoz Rank, Twitter followers, RSS subscribers and maybe even more. Let me ask you one thing, and assuming that two sites have the same relevance and the price for ads is the same, placement, format, etc. Where would you advertise, on the site that has a 30K Alexa, PR2, 20K followers, 10K yahoo inbound, etc. or on the other which has 150K Alexa, PR2, 20K followers, 10K yahoo, etc. I’m guessing it will be on the first one, right? At least that would be your first option 😉

    1. Thanks Ditesco i kind of suspected that i have done some deeper digging into Alexa Rankings Thanks for adding your voice to the debate here you commnets are valuable and very much appreciated here.

  11. Hehe, glad our little talk inspired this 🙂 You presented it in a great way, the only metric that sets the Alexa rank is the number of users with toolbar installed, so this is not an accurate metric. Like I said when we talked, some of my Serbian sites have around 1,000 unique visitors per day and over 100,000 page views per month but they have 2mil Alexa rank while Practical SEO blog which has significantly lower amount of traffic and visitors is in top 200K according to Alexa. So the metric is quite faulty, but like you said, we can benefit from Alexa by looking at other information provided there, but again, there is nothing there that I can’t see in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools…

    1. Thanks Zarko that just goes to show how inspiration comes from anywhere even where and when you least expect it for the first time i really look at the rankings of alexa and i am glad i have written this post thanks for your support throughout the year have a happy holiday

  12. In my opinion the rank does give a reasonable indication of the traffic you receive, but the other info (the whois info and inbound links) are very outdated. I think the alexa rank is only useful to track the progress of your site.

    1. I would not dispute that however my understanding of alexa rankings is that it is only accurate once you site is below the 100,000 mark so with that understanding we should not get too excited about it however it is still good to have a tool to help measure your website progress

  13. Web design Solihull

    Nice post, Gary. Like a lot people who have commented, I don’t pay too much attention to Alexa. Years ago, it was one of the better analytic tools, but just failed to keep up with other providers. It’s a shame, because it has never reached the potential it once had.

    1. Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation Alexa i believe has great potential but as you rightly said never materialise i do hope that one day they will improve the script that analyse the data.

    1. You are correct it never seems to be accurate however we as bloggers loves to see the smaller numbers because some advertisers looks at this data before purchasing any ad inventory on our website Thanks for your input and welcome here have a happy holiday

    1. Thanks i am happy that this post make some sense and clear up some grey area for you your input here is very much appreciated and i do wish you a wonderful holiday season

  14. Alexa is important in some ways. It can help you see where your traffic is coming from and who they are. I use Alexa against Google Analytics and Quantcast, normally the three return quite similar results. However I have seen it when researching niches the information can vary hugely between Alexa and Quantcast, mainly for people demographics. It is all a bit strange.
    Pete

    1. Thanks Pete Welcome to the debate that is the puzzling thing about all these rankings alexa especially with its gender demographics the results it returns for my site is quite different from what i know it to be Have yourself a happy holiday

    1. It is i guess it has its advantages because it shows how well you are doing in regards to traffic in one country so you can look at certain demographics and market accordingly The only concern for me is the accuracy of these statistics. Thanks for your input and have a wonderful festive season

  15. Gary,

    nice article clarifying Alexa and Alexa ranking. As you pointed out the Alexa ranking isn’t perfect but it does at least give you a fair idea of how your traffic is going.

    As more and more people install the Alexa toolbar these numbers will get more accurate. Doing it is good for now is a positive feeling, money from advertisers, and the general idea of how your traffic is progressing.

    I think the difference between 25,000 and 400,000 is fairly decent in amount of traffic. But the difference between 150,000 and 400,000 or 50,000 and 100,000 is not very significant.

    thanks for the post Gary, I hope you had a great Christmas, have an awesome New Year’s Eve and a prosperous 2011

    1. Thanks Steve for your input Alexa is not perfect from what we have seen and as you rightly mentioned it does gives us some clear indication as to where our traffic performs and i kind of like the breaking down of Rankings country by country you have a great 2011 and hope all your goals will be achieved.

  16. I really dont care about my alexa rank right now, before when i was starting as a blogger – i am web developer now – it’s a must for me to get high alexa ranking, but when i read that it only collects datas from people who’s using their toolbars it comes to me that their ranking are somehow inaccurate, but still other people and company relies on alexa rankings.

  17. Alexa is useful while we compare our website with other websites but we cannot trust Alexa too much. It is just the data from the users who use Alexa toolbar on their browser. Always trust your Google Analytics if you want to know your traffic stats. For competitor traffic details, Alexa is useful.

  18. Good covered point, lots of people simply put something weired theories in front of public.
    But it doesn’t work i think because know one sure how it will going to happen
    It looks like just coping ideas which someone has already written. I found even on
    popular blogs guest bloggers bring same theories which I already know. I observed they
    just try to spice up their article without knowing what really audience want to read.

    options trading

  19. web design perth

    This data is useful to me because it shows where the traffic is coming from however how accurate it is another side of the coin.
    this is very good to control terrific in your country .we are an expert to help us.

  20. Mike from Options Trading Strategies

    It is good to understand Alexa rankings, and it is also a big help to know where the traffics come.

  21. I don’t think Alexa is accurate too. If you have installed the Alexa add-on and you visit your own website quite often, it quite easy to have your website have a higher rank also the actual clicks are low.

  22. Nice and informative post on Alexa ranking.. Here i have question, is really alex ranking is reliable and important for SEO task

  23. Alexa is a second well know metrics for web sites after Google’s PageRank – If somebody will tell me he own a website with Alexa rank lower than 1000 I will know for sure this person earning five figure a month. That all, no matter how inaccurate it is 🙂

  24. I have no idea how Alexa is ranking their websites.. . My own website istia.tv was ranked 900,000 one year ago when i had only 12,000 hits a month. From January to June 2012, I had 30,000 hits a month and Alexa was ranking me at 2,900,000 from a low 9,000,000 in December 2011 when at the same time my site went from 12,000 to 30,000 hits a month . For the past 2 months I had more than 50,000 hits per month and my ranking is 2,500,000. On top of that, their keywords is totally irrelevant, Alexa is showing keywords that I never had in my website or that are not the keywords that are driving my visitors. Unfortunately, I can’t rely on Alexa rankings, There are totally irrelevant to me. But I’m still checking every month… Not sure why…

  25. Driving phobia cure

    Thanks for this highly informative post! I never quite understood how Alexa Ranking works but it’s a thing of the past now that I’ve read your article.

  26. Hi Lawmacs,

    What do you have to say about Alexa Rankings being innacurate? I have read several posts that the (main) problem with Alexa is that it only monitors users who have the Alexa Toolbar installed in their browsers. And only SEOs are likely to install the Alexa Toolbar as far as I know.

  27. Alexa ranks your website based on the number of visitor who HAVE installed the alexa toolbar on their browser , not based on your number of visitors.

    Thus alexa metrics don’t give a true ranking of a website.

  28. I think Alexa is the globally used Analytics tool because of its fast and accurate results. I’m also using Alexa for analysis of ranking but yes other tools are gaining traffic like Ahrefs, SEMrush etc..Thanks for sharing this article with all of us !!

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