There were many critiques on the Alexa Rank, resulting in a major Alexa Rank update recently. In the past, some looked at its flaws and still, some noted its potencies. Which side ARE you on now?
What is Alexa Ranking?
The new Alexa Ranking is aimed to provide a better traffic estimation for all sites on the web. It works by collecting data (reaches and page views) from millions of Alexa Toolbar users. Those data are needed to perform a geometric mean by averaging them over a period of three months. Beside of those two measurements, the new Alexa Ranking takes in various traffic data sources as well. Where they are anonimously computed to present the traffic rankings shown as the Alexa Ranking. The three-month change is obtained by matching up the current rank with its rank from the previous three months.
- For example, on July 1, the three-month change would show the difference between the rank based on traffic during the first quarter of the year and the rank based on traffic during the second quarter.
Reach is defined as how many unique Alexa users (people with Alexa Toolbar) visit the site. Webmasters or blog owners will see reach as a percentage of Alexa users visit their site/blog.
- Alexa’s one-week and three-month average reach are measures of daily reach, averaged over the specified time period. The three-month change is determined by comparing a site’s current reach with its values from three months ago.
Page views represent how many pages viewed by Alexa Toolbar users. However, multiple views on the same page by the same user on the same day are counted once.
- The page views per user numbers are the average numbers of unique pages viewed per user per day by the visitors to the site. The three-month change is determined by comparing a site’s current page view numbers with those from three months ago.
Finally, the site having the most result in the computation will be ranked number one. On the contrary, the one ranks in millions can be considered having next to nothing in traffic.
How accurate the Alexa Rank is
According to the World Internet Usage Statistics News and Population Stats, there were 1,319,872,109 Internet users around the globe on 2007. Even if the precise quantity fell below the statistic, Alexa Toolbar users only composed 10% top of the whole internet users population. Here’s from Alexa.com’s Help Section:
- The traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach).
Moreover, still 4.5% of the web surfers were using browsers unsupported by the Alexa Toolbar and the ones do (94.5% of the 10% of the internet users) and install the toolbar are mostly only webmasters and internet savvies. Most of the world’s web surfers aren’t knowledged about web rankings and traffic.
However, with the recent update that now Alexa comprises other, diverse traffic data sources in determining a site’s rank, it is expected that Alexa’s measurement will be more accurate than it was.
Another progress from Alexa is now they’re trying to make exceptions for blogs or personal home pages, if they’re able to be automatically identified from the URL. Although…
- the Web hosts www.msn.com, carpoint.msn.com and slate.msn.com are all treated as part of the same site, because they all reside on the same domain, msn.com.
The last thing Alexa intend to fix is the bias problem for a better ranking calculation. The normalization they perform incorporates these factors:
- the geographic location
- the demographic distribution
- the amount of users who might not use the toolbar
If the update didn’t come out as expected, would Alexa Rank have any good at all?
It DOES! Bigger than you think, in fact. Doesn’t care how much people say how imperfect Alexa Ranking is, there are way more who rely not only to Google’s PR to determine the value of a website and they will keep that way.
Before we go into finding out who are those people, let’s observe how you can exploit the benefits instead of being misled by its flaws.
Spy on your competitors
With the old method of Alexa Ranking, it made sense to watch for your competitors in the same industry, since the bias problem occured when analyzing your traffic stats applied also to your competitor.
Now, after Alexa released its update on the ranking process, we can still use Alexa Ranking to make a better estimation of other players in the industry. For example, if a site went down on Alexa Rank after the update (getting worse), we can tell that they have more visitors with Alexa Toolbar installed. And if a site went up in ranking, most likely they have less visitors with the toolbar installed because Alexa now counts “other factors” outside their toolbar users data. Back to the analysis, who are the people usually install the Alexa Toolbar? Webmasters are one example. So we can figure out our competitors’ readers segmentation this way.
Another advantage we have from Alexa is, the ranks contain facts that mostly invisible for public (reaches and page views). The information provided by Alexa Rank about websites is valuable that is not usually presented for free. This time, Alexa Ranking provides you an immediate view of you and your competitors’ performance comparison.
Even though Alexa hasn’t disclose where they source their “various traffic data”, we can still expect a better accuracy and comparison result from Alexa Traffic Stats.
More believers than naysayers
The other fine reason to start gaining advantages of Alexa Rank is more of your visitors are getting alerted of the Alexa Ranking. When visitors came to your site for the first time and they saw your site ranked in millions, they would think that they’re the only one visiting the site and very few else did. This can affect their thoughts that your content wasn’t so interesting and before they even scroll through your main page, they left your site. On the contrary, having a significant Alexa Rank can provide another reason for your visitors to trust your content.
Beside of your visitors, most of the advertisers and networks you plan to monetize your site with, examine you Alexa Rank before determining your site’s marketing prospective. They prefer to look at these stats since the information is usually not available publicly. So, if you’re charging a 125×125 ad space, $50/month for your #5,987,123 ranked site, advertisers won’t fall for it and it’ll be easier to sell a 10 pages ebook of “I Earn $10,000/month Pressing Keyboards” for $500.
Any other reasons?
The Alexa Rank becomes more and more regarded as a measurement of how well known a site is, so you can take an advantage of the progress by:
- Having the Alexa Ranking supports your inclined success story.
- Having the Alexa Ranking as your bargaining tool for getting a better advertisement offer.
- Having the Alexa Ranking presents you and your competitors’ position in your niche/industry.
- Having the Alexa Ranking as a “Lie Detector” of a so-called “SEO Master” with 20,000 visitors per day but ranked in #6,000,000 in Alexa’s.
- Having the Alexa Ranking tells you that your site begins enjoying quite good traffic once your site make to the top 100,000. The reason is the more Alexa users visit your site, the lower your rank. So if you get into the top 100,000 instead of millions, it means more people visit your site and the information provided will be more accurate.
So, with all the points above, it is much less matter now what’s your judgment about Alexa Rank. If you need your visitors and you want your site to earn you well, maybe it is the time to consider reaping some benefits of Alexa Rank’s existence, before your competitors do.