Alexa Ranking hardly matters

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Rishi Kashyap
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Alexa Ranking hardly matters


While Alexa ranking may be an internationally accepted, publicly available, amazingly popular, website ranking system still ALEXA RANKING HARDLY MATTER !

Recently one of my friend started an investment Blog and told how his 1 year old website is ranked 200,578 (22,772 India) against mine 7 years old Merchant Navy Website whose Ranking is 391,293 (61,103 India). In our talk about SEO, Google Analytics and Making money online we both came to know that my website traffic is actually 5 times more than his !

I informed him that if he was only interested in measuring competition Semrush might be a better choice ! Anyways where is Alexa going wrong and how are Alexa ranks calculated ?

Alexa Ranking

How are Alexa Ranking Calculated ?

In Alexa's own jargon
Alexa's traffic estimates are based on data from our global traffic panel, which is a sample of millions of Internet users using one of over 25,000 different browser extensions. In addition, we gather much of our traffic data from direct sources in the form of sites that have chosen to install the Alexa script on their site and certify their metrics ...
Our global traffic rank is a measure of how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months. The rank is calculated using a proprietary methodology that combines a site's estimated average of daily unique visitors and its estimated number of pageviews over the past 3 months. We provide a similar country-specific ranking, which is a measurement of how a website ranks in a particular country relative to other sites over the past month.
Sounds Geeky ! While nobody accurately knows how they calculate Alexa Rank, few things worth mentioning
  1. Alexa Toolbar and browser plugins
    Alexa collects data from users who have installed Alexa's toolbar to get notified of their website and other website Alexa Ranking ! So if 25,000 Users in this world use Alexa toolbar and 5000 of such user visit my website then my Alexa Rank will be much better than your's website whom only 2000 of such user visit. Note here that I am NOT considering general web users but only Users with Alexa toolbar installed ! This means that even though your Website may get 10 times more traffic than mine, just because Alexa specific users visit my website more, my Rank is better !
  2. Alexa analytic code script or Alexa Widgets (Certified Site Metrics)
    Alexa wants you to use their Alexa analytic javascript code (Alexa Widgets) for BETTER estimate of your website traffic and thus Alexa rank. Alexa then marks your website traffic data to be "Certified Site Metrics"
  3. Alexa Crawlers
    Alexa initially was a popular Search Engine and they still use their crawler with User-agent: "ia_archiver" for crawling the internet. Alexa crawler scans for keywords in your site and check if you rank in popular Search Engine for particular keywords. Number of Search queries done for those keywords are anyways publicly available by Google.
  4. Alexa Ranking is an estimate
    Alexa nowhere says of accuracy, it says "Alexa's traffic estimates and ranks ...." that's like saying ... hey ! Do not get too serious about Alexa Rank its just a wild guess !

How to Improve Your Alexa Ranking ?

Since we too can estimate how Alexa Ranking is calculated , its actually quite easy to control and improve your Alexa Ranking just by these simple efforts like
  1. Use Alexa Analytics Script or Alexa Widget !
    While Google Analytic code is much more than what your website may need, but if you are obsessed with Alexa Rank just copy paste their Javascript code on every page of your website. Now your website will directly send your website traffic data to Alexa and will help them narrow down in their wild guess.
  2. Install and Use Alexa Toolbar
    Install Alexa Toolbar and keep visiting your website again and again. Alexa may increase your pageviews for your website. Request your friends, beg to your relative and order your juniors to install the toolbar and visit your website with Alexa toolbar installed to improve your Alexa Ranking !
  3. Do not block Alexa robot
    If you want better Alexa Rank, allow Alexabot "ia_archiver" to crawl your website and know what keywords your website is all about. It will start to make more wild guess and if you exist for some keywords in top Google SERP, your Alexa rank will automatically Improve !
  4. Write Tech and SEO content on Blogging !
    Think about it who uses Alexa Toolbar, who needs Alexa Widgets and who understands robots.txt and detects Web Crawlers, its Bloggers ! Obviously bloggers have all these in favour of them as most bloggers think similarly !
    While Alexa may say that they are not biased, Alexa Rank certainly is biased towards tech related, SEO, website or internet based blogs ! Such websites are ranked less than 100,000 even with low traffic of 200 to 300 visitors / day !

Why Alexa Ranking Hardly Matter

While occasionally I do check my website for Alexa Rank, but have never done much to improve my Alexa Ranking other then writing good content which my Blogs is all about ! In fact I specifically block Alexabot in my robots.txt ! The reason is simple that ranking hardly matter, is vague, absurd and rarely correct !
  1. Alexa themselves admit that your Alexa Rank may decrease even though your Website traffic may increase and believe it or not they have valid reason for it !The short answer is that any ranking system ranks you relative to others. The Alexa Traffic Rank ranks your site relative to all other sites in the world.
    A good analogy is running a race. Let's say that yesterday you finished the race in 3rd place. If you race again today and have a faster time, you could still finish in 4th place if 3 other people run faster than you. Even though you ran a faster race, your 'ranking' got worse because other people ran even faster.
    So Alexa compares your ESTIMATES with other website ESTIMATES (guesswork with another guess work) and they rank these ESTIMATES relatively (another guess work), which neither YOU nor YOUR COMPETITOR understand ! Great !
  2. There are large variation in traffic estimates specially for websites with Alexa Rank greater than 100,000.Estimated global traffic ranks of 100,000+ are subject to large fluctuations and should be considered rough estimates. Global traffic ranks of 100,000+ should be regarded as rough estimates, as the data used to calculate these ranks is sparse.You can read here and here to know more about it ! So according to them there ESTIMATES are worse for 100,000 and above ranked websites. No wonder my friends website with 1/5th of my website traffic has better Alexa Rank !
  3. Alexa keyword and traffic estimates are crappy too ! According to Alex almost 50% of my traffic comes through keyword Flipkart Affiliate. Trust me its BS and others have experienced such crap too ! While I have written some affiliate marketing article like Affiliate marketing problems and do rank for some affiliate related searches too but most of the website traffic comes because of Merchant Navy related blogs !
    It is no wonder now, that my Alexa Rank too improved in last 6 months from over 2000,000 to 300,000 as I started ranking for such blog posts ! I won't be surprised if I rank for "ALEXA Ranking" in SERP then my rank may very well go under 50,000
Since I realized that Alexa Ranking is completely nonsense, I removed those crappy Alexa widgets. To my surprise removing them improved my Google ranking as webpage load time reduced with less javascript on page and less DNS lookup !
I also blocked Alexa crawler completely to prevent them wasting my website bandwidth for no reason at all. This also helps me prevent my website competitors getting few details about my website through Alexa !
While I may have my own opinion about Alexa Ranking but naive advertiser still ask me about my Alexa Ranking, still most bloggers think that their Alexa ranking is lower than they drive more traffic compared to my website and still they try to judge my competitive advantage through Alexa !
My personal advise is that if the choice is only of knowing your competition and judging who is doing better and in which section then I highly recommend Semrush, which, to me is far better than Alexa ! Do let me know your views and experience about Alexa ranking.  

Rishi Kashyap | | EDIT | REPLY