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BroadVision Marketing Blog

Alexa or No Alexa--That Is the Question

Posted by Jaco Grobbelaa on Sun, Sep 11, 2011 @ 07:28 PM

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="203" caption="Image via CrunchBase"]Image representing Alexa as depicted in CrunchBase[/caption]

What do you do to see how your website is doing? I have read about Google Analytics, various ROI statistics and Alexa numbers. I don’t remember who suggested using Alexa numbers, but I liked the idea of simplicity. So without too much research I got an Alexa toolbar where the Alexa number of any website shows up and I began collecting data for five websites.

In general the sites’ Alexa numbers reflected the work done on the site in a predictable manner, but one site repeatedly did not keep to type. I wanted to know why. I had to learn more about Alexa numbers in order to know that. Even then I am not sure I have the answer.

First I didn’t find too much written recently about Alexa statistics. It was a more common item several years ago when it was new. Here’s some of what I learned.

Alexa.com is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, providing information on traffic levels for websites. The Alexa rank is measured according to the number of users who visit a website having an Alexa toolbar installed on their browser (This is an important fact. We will get more into it later).

Here is Alexa’s definition of the Alexa Traffic Rank:
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). As a first step, Alexa computes the reach and number of page views for all sites on the Web on a daily basis.

The main Alexa traffic rank is based on the geometric mean of these two quantities averaged over time (so that the rank of a site reflects both the number of users who visit that site as well as the number of pages on the site viewed by those users).

The way you read the rank is that the higher the rank, the lower the number; and who doesn’t want to be number one? So beyond that incomprehensible definition, what’s the catch?  There are two big ones. You are going to have to decide for yourself whether these things bother your or not.

You have to be a “member”

The first is that the Alexa ranking only counts people who go on your websites if they have their own Alexa toolbar. Not everyone does. In fact websites targeted to webmasters and web designers have better ranking than sites about other niches, like social media or real estate, because they know the game. Remember that the more people with the toolbar who look on a website, the better the website ranks. This means that all the people who visit your site but don't have an Alexa toolbar aren't counted.

Movin’ on up artificially

That brings up the second catch. People can improve their ranking artificially. Previous years’ blogs suggest such things as, first of all, adding the Alexa button to your toolbar. You visit your site often, right? Why not count your visits? You could even set your blog as your homepage and get points each time you open your computer. Second, encourage everyone you know to get the toolbar. Third, participate in Webmaster Forums or, last, write a blog about Alexa numbers (blush—I didn’t write this with that intent).

Now I am going to make a suggestion that might make you mad. Remember my second artificial trick? Even after knowing what I know about Alexa numbers not being a good indicator of the number of people visiting your site, I am going to suggest you get the toolbar. If you are using Internet Explorer, visit this page and download the Alexa Toolbar. Go to Toolbar for the Alexa Toolbar for Firefox.

The reason I am suggesting you do this is that in certain foreign countries where more people have the Alexa Toolbar, they are beating you to the good Alexa numbers. Here are two facts from the past. At one time a Singapore website with 10k visitors a day ranked 60k in Alexa.  An Indonesian site with just 1k visitors a day ranked 30k in Alexa. You need an Alexa toolbar, so you can compete.

I still don’t know why the one site I’m watching is working double time, but at least I have some good ideas.

What are you using to get a quick view of how your site is going? Have you used the Alexa toolbar? Are you still using it? Why or why not? Please leave a comment  in the box below.
Jaco Grobbelaar, owner of BroadVision Marketing, helps business owners and business professionals put marketing strategies in place that consistently secure new clients. He can be reached at jaco@broadvisionmarketing.com or 707.799.1238. You can “Like” him at www.facebook.com/broadvisionmarketing or connect with him on  www.linkedin.com/in/JacoGrobbelaar.

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Topics: Alexa Internet, Alexa Toolbar, WWW, Internet Explorer, Google Analytics, Toolbar, website, clients, Marketing Plan, Social Media, Marketing Principles, Blogging

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