A lot of website owners are concerned... even worried... about their "Alexa rank."
Well, you shouldn't be, just as I'm not. The Alexa rank is really a meaningless number and here's why:
Alexa has an index which ranks websites on a list with the most viewed website as #1 and going down from there. Google has always been ranked #1.
And so, I have to ask this question: do you care how your website compares to Google or to YouTube or to Facebook? I don't care, and I don't think that our clients with websites care.
What most website owners care about is not how they compare to Google or Yahoo, but how many visitors come to their website.
Tell me how many people visit my website-- that's what I care about. And Alexa does not tell me that. Quantcast.com estimates that number of visitors, and so do some other web traffic monitoring companies, but Alexa doesn't.
In fact, when I want the best measure of my website traffic I simply look at my own website server reports, because that tells me exactly how many people come to my site and click on my pages and how long they are on each page.
Actually, my own server stats might under-estimate how many actual views I'm getting because in some cases my website pages are viewed through proxy servers that Internet Service Providers set up -- but that's another issue.
Google Analytics which is free to use also provides this information.
There is another problem with Alexa that everyone should know about: If you are not among the top 100,000 websites that Alexa tracks, Alexa says your web ranking can be inaccurate, and it can be way off. Really way off. For example, in the last month, our Alexa rank has had a wild swing from about 350,000 to more than 1.5-million while at the same time our web traffic has grown dramatically along with page views. But we were never in the top-100,000 so these swings are not considered to be "significant" by Alexa.
For months I've been asking why Alexa continues to "rank" websites that are not in the top 100,000 because Alexa cannot say those rankings are accurate and Alexa has not answered the question.
Alexa has a purpose if you want to know which of the "big websites" are winning the race for web traffic. And that's about it.
It doesn't tell you how many views, what pages, how effective a website is for advertising or marketing, if people like a site or don't like it, if it is credible, if it has good information, or anything else.
More importantly, if you are selling advertising on your site, or if you are trying to raise the value of your site because you intend to sell it, the "rank" means little. What counts is the number of visitors and the number of page views and the time spent on your site. It doesn't matter to an advertiser or to a website buyer if your one thousand visitors gives you a rank of 1-million. What matters is that you have one thousand visitors-- period. No one buys "rank" except someone who doesn't know better. Because in the world of advertising, you buy according to the "cost per thousand" not according to the "rank" of a website.
By the way, Alexa.com used to have an open forum where users could post questions and discuss problems. There were so many complaints about the Alexa system that Alexa removed its forum.
There is another 'problem" that I asked Alexa about that they would not answer: Alexa's ranking system is based on users who have the "Alexa Toolbar" and use it. Alexa will not reveal how many toolbar users it has. It is possible to use the Alexa toolbar on one browser of your computer for looking at your own website, while using another browser for looking at other websites, and you can conceivably influence the Alexa results.
And if you happen to look at the top searches on Alexa you will find that many of the searches would be those that website owners and operators would make. For Example, right now as I write this, one of the top searches is "Adwords" which I am sure refers to Google Adwords and that is not something that the general public is likely to search for on the web. So if Alexa's ranks are based on its toolbar users, it just might be giving too much influence to website owners.
You could in fact give your own site a boost by installing the Alexa toolbar on your office and home computers and instructing your staff and asking your friends and relatives to click on your site often using only the Alexa toolbar -- and look at other sites with another browser that does not have the Alexa toolbar installed.
I heard of a web cafe owner who installed the Alexa toolbar on a dozen or so computers with the home page of a particular website set to always display on those computers. Which website is displayed? Well, it's the website that pays him to have it displayed.
Last edited by Alan Mendelson; 11-22-2011 at 08:21 AM.