So what exactly is Alexa? Well, Alexa is currently owned by Amazon and it is known for its traffic ranking statistics at its dot com website. Nearly all guides about website promotion demonstrate the need for higher Alexa rankings which is usually associated with higher website profits. Any owner of a website should understand some important facts about the Alexa rankings.
Alexa monitors three main areas in its reporting system these are reach, page view and overall rank. Reach analyses the percentage of all internet users that actually visit your website. The reach is usually measure in ‘reach per million users’, this would mean that if you website has a reach of one then this would mean only 1 person in every millions users would be visiting your site.
The page views actually measures the average number of pages any visitor clicks to when searching through your entire website. Websites with lots of relevant content and targeted visitors will generate a much larger number of page views. The overall rank in Alexa is a measurement that combines the reach and page views stats, and having larger numbers in both of these categories will produce a low site rank. A lower rank on Alexa means that the website has some authority and is of a high quality. Alexa collates all these figures into day, week and three month averages and the overall change over a three month period.
Every single day Alexa collects valuable statistics on the visitors and page views for every website that currently resides on the internet. To be honest, it does not have relevant data for all sites; in fact the data is only collected from web browsers that have the Alexa toolbar installed. When one of these visitors lands on a website, the toolbar will send these visitor details to the Alexa server. So this means that only websites that are visited by visitors with the Alexa toolbar installed will have any type of data collected.
Subsequently, because only a small number of visitors actually have the toolbar installed, any ranking given is an average that is not a true indication of the actually quality or the numbers of website traffic. Those websites will a smaller number of visitors will receive inaccuracies in rankings and unless in the top 100,000 on Alexa will not get true indication of how a website is performing. Also the Alexa toolbar is only compatible with the Internet Explorer browser and though this browser is the most popular, it’s a problem if the majority of your traffic uses the alternative browsers available.
From a statistical and ranking aspect any rank shown on Alexa cannot be classed as unbiased in its data collection methods. The range of people used by Alexa for collecting ranking data is not a varied cross-section of users, but is more biased to visitors who use Microsoft Windows and their pre-installed Internet Explorer and anyone who happens to install and use the Alexa toolbar. If your visitors are privacy conscious and not prone to installing toolbars and sharing their browsing habits, don’t expect your Alexa rankings to be accurate.
So, if you want true ranking accuracy when it comes to monitoring your visitors and pages views then you are much better off using some alternative kind of analytical software, such as Google Analytics. But, some advertisers will use Alexa rankings as a third party estimate of a websites overall popularity, and will use the data to determine how much advertising space is actually worth on each of your web pages. If you are in the higher regions of the Alexa rankings then your website could benefit greatly from this kind of information, but if your website does not then you will probably not find it much of a problem.