Among certain circles online, Alexa is one of the most important possible metrics. Among many others, it’s a curiosity at best. What’s the problem with Alexa, and why should you take what it says with a hefty grain of salt?
Alexa, owned by Amazon, is a third party analytics company that tracks a lot of information about a website, selling access to that information as a business model. The main draw of Alexa is detailed access to competitor information, as long as those competitors are within the top few thousand websites online. Alexa’s ranking is primarily focused on the top 100,000 websites in the world, as ranked by Alexa itself. While this sounds like a lot, remember there are over 30,000,000 websites monitored by Alexa, and millions more besides.
Alexa’s information comes from one source and one source only: the Alexa toolbar. Users who browse the web with that toolbar installed are feeding data about the sites they browse to Amazon and Alexa. Other users who do not have the toolbar installed do not affect Alexa ranking at all. In effect, Alexa is trying to draw conclusions and detailed analytics out of what is effectively a sample, rather than the full data, about individual websites.
Nevertheless, Alexa has a not insignificant number of people using the toolbar and feeding them information. Statistically, the sample size is reasonable, and the data Alexa provides is not entirely off base, though it is somewhat inaccurate, particularly for smaller sites.
Alexa’s biggest problem is that source of information, the toolbar. The Alexa Toolbar only works for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Users of any other web browser, such as Opera, Android, Safari, Blackberry or Lynx are all left out. They can’t use the toolbar, and thus they can’t feed Alexa data.
Wait, Android? That’s right. Alexa has no toolbar functionality for Android’s version of Chrome, or Apple’s browser, or any other mobile browser. This means, for one thing, that 30% of all traffic – the mobile traffic share in 2014 – is ignored. It also means that significant groups of users, those who use alternative browsers for one reason or another, are also ignored.
Additionally, toolbar adoption is very geocentric. Some countries lack data because there just aren’t enough users in the country in question to provide any actionable data.
Numerous studies have been performed on many popular sites, including Moz, comparing the veracity of Alexa information and the accuracy of Google Analytics, along side other free analytics services such as DoubleClick, Compete and Quantcast.
As inaccurate and skewed as Alexa is, unfortunately a large number of marketers still find it useful for some reason. That means many webmasters still want to figure out how to improve their Alexa rank and associated metrics. To support that end, here are some tips for improving your Alexa rank.
Okay, so that’s not really a useful tip. If you really must continue, try these:
Growtraffic.com is the leading pop-under traffic network.
Get thousands of targeted visitors for wholesale prices.