There is a lot of misinformation floating around the Internet in regards to how Alexa tracks traffic, how Alexa rankings work and how they impact your SEO rankings (or don’t). I want to add some clarity to this situation so within this upcoming thread I am going to be walking you through Alexa, how it works, and help you decide whether or not it serves any importance towards your online campaigns and success.
So if you are ready, I am going to get right into the inner workings of Alexa.
How do Alexa Rankings Work?
Alexa rankings display several metrics. These include Alexa traffic rank, Traffic Rank in US, Sites Linking in, and, within their charts, you can see the different fields that you can graph out your website history (see example chart below)
BIG QUESTION: But where does Alexa get their data from and is it reliable?
Alexa gets their rankings from the Alexa Toolbar, which people install into their browsers and it basically tracks their activity around the Internet, the websites they visit, and how often they visit.
This is where they get most of their data from, so they really do have a minute set of data to work with as only a small fraction of people actually have the Alexa toolbar installed (guestimates say around 15-20 million downloads…many of these no longer active), with a good deal of these being people that are Internet marketers who want to track their Alexa rankings.
Along with that, they claim to get data from “other” unknown sources as well (yeah…).
Another concern is the fact that the toolbar is considered to be “adware” by MacAfee while Symantec another major anti-virus program considers the toolbar “trackware” because of the nature of how it works (it tracks and stores all of your web activities). If you have it installed, you can best bet that all of your activities are being tracked and the data you are using it for really is deemed quite useless, because it is not real traffic data.
How to Increase Your Alexa Ranking?
If you wanted to”game” Alexa, it is actually quite easy (I will get to that).
But first, the most obvious way would be to get more website traffic to increase your Alexa rankings right?
Wrong. More traffic does not equate to higher traffic rankings in Alexa. In fact, in late 2012 I personally ran some tests and comparisons between two completely independent websites just for peace of mind and to validate all of my assumptions about Alexa over the years (that it was more of a gag site than anything).
In my test, Website A was getting 20,000+ unique visitors per day, and Website B was getting just over 1,000+ uniques per day. In other words Website A was getting 20 times the traffic of Website B, yet the Alexa rank had Website B getting double the traffic within their reporting!??
Completely bogus. Alexa ranking data is completely bogus. The obvious, but ineffective way to get higher Alexa rankings would be to get more traffic to your website but this is simply not the case. The correct way to get higher Alexa rankings is to get more people to visit your website that have the Alexa toolbar installed.
I am not going to go into details, but based on my first point there are very few data triggers that Alexa has to work off of that are not publicly available. They have no access to ACTUAL website data (only the owner of a website has access to actual traffic stats).
The traffic data they use is based on their toolbar, so naturally the more people that visit your site that have the toolbar installed will improve your Alexa rank (hint, hint).
How to Check Alexa Rank?
Many of you are probably wondering where to go to find out your Alexa rank. You can actually do this directly through their website, or you can install their “adware” toolbar (not recommended).
Again, take your ranking with a grain of salt. It won’t benefit you in any way knowing your Alexa, nor will it be a sound indicator of how your website ranks compared to others out there. The reason. They DO NOT have this data!
If you are interested in finding out where your website ranks in Google, an important metric when determining your SEO effectiveness there are tools that can scan Google’s search results and tell you where you are ranked (what page you are on) under specific keywords.
If you want to find out what page you are ranked on in Google, I recommend that you use Jaaxy.com for this.
Alexa Ranking Package, Is it Worth It?
On the Alexa website you will notice there are many different services they are attempting to sell you. You will see something similar to this within the Alexa sidebar when you are on their site…
I also have personally tried these services (Get Certified Metrics) for testing purposes and can honestly tell you that you are buying into an empty offer.
The “Get Certified Metrics” is a service where you have to pay to give Alexa your accurate data. Shouldn’t they be paying you for this? You will see absolutely no value from doing this and if you are even remotely interested in taking advantage of this, please do save your money.
Does Alexa Rank Have Anything to Do With SEO?
Recently it appears that many folks have been vastly misinformed as to how Alexa works and what the purpose of Alexa is. There are folks going around the Internet touting an Alexa score as some sort of indicator as to how well a website ranks in Google or how it reflects website success.
However, Alexa rank has no correlation to SEO or how well a site gets indexed. So if someone tells you that Alexa means something and tout it as a reason to join their service, you may want to head the other way.
Secondly, Alexa offers Web Analytics toolkits for $149 per month. This service is a complete redundancy if you have Google Analytics (which is free) and in fact, the Alexa Advanced Plan will offer you inferior data to that you can get with Analytics and Webmaster Tools, both free services offer by Google.
So Alexa will not efficiently or accurately track your traffic and they will not be able to serve as any sort of indicator in respect to SEO. If you want to get SEO help, the best thing you can do is to learn about it yourself and there are services out there that can help you out with this. If you want to get help with your rankings in Google, you can get up and running know with some REAL education. Get rolling here!
I hope this has added some clarity to the whole Alexasphere and if you do have anything in addition to add, any Alexa experiences or any questions about any of this content, drop me a note below and I will be more than happy to discuss.