Alexa Traffic Ranking. A Flawed Measurement

Business web traffic growth

This morning I turned on my laptop to see a reply to a post I made on an Adsense event posted on a Google+ Community. “Your website Alexa ranking isn’t high enough to justify your Adsense earnings.”

Alexa Traffic Ranking, It’s Just a Number.

The reply to my post about my tourism niche Adsense earnings was as follows;

Needless to say I rolled my eyes to the sky and explained to the IT Expert from India that Alexa is just a figure. It’s an indication that a small percentage of users with the Alexa browser toolbar installed, had visited my website.

I use Google WMT and Google Analytics to monitor my web traffic accurately. In plain simple English (or language of your choice) you can view how many people visited your website; regardless of how they got there.

If you are new to SEO and online marketing, please take a little time to read up on Alexa and understand its pros and cons.

Telling me that my Alexa ranking is too high to justify my Adsense income makes you look like a fool. I have the facts in front of me, you just have a number from a tracking browser extension.

Using Alexa as an accurate measurement of website success is deeply flawed, it’s akin to those tv cosmetic adverts where 95% of those surveyed are happy – then you read the small print… 95% of 200 people asked!!

That’s not many people is it. Alexa relies primarily on data gathered from their own toolbar; I doubt many people in my tourism niche have the Alexa toolbar installed – in fact I’d bet my Adsense earnings on it.

So the next time an Online Marketing Expert tells you that your Alexa ranking can be improved for $250 a month – run away to the hills. They are clueless.

Alexa – Opinions From IT Experts

The quote below is from an expert in IT and online marketing;

The sad thing about Alexa rank is that I have heard stories about media buyers in large corporations attaching great importance to it. It is largely irrelevant to any marketing operation yet people place great relevance on it.

I am involved in 3 main niche markets – Food, Health (primarily weight loss at the moment) and Internet marketing.

The weight loss site has the most traffic of all of them yet it has the worst Alexa rank. The internet marketing and the food site get roughly the same level of traffic. Yet the IM gets a much better rank than the food one.

The reason is of course that the IM site attracts visitors who are using the alexa toolbar to monitor the competition while the others are getting people who dont give tuppence about a sites rank.

Look closely to see that the higher reaches of Alexa are over-populated with technology, internet marketing and SEO sites. It’s no surprise really because these are the kind of people who will have the toolbar installed.

Like you I mainly use WMT an Analytics to track my site traffic even if they arent always 100% accurate. Follow Ian Dixon on Google+

 Alexa Traffic Ranking, Misleading For Business?

I researched Alexa years ago, when it first started to become popular on various SEO / Webmaster forums. Anything that says install our custom toolbar makes me head for the hills as an internet user. Your average search user will NOT have the Alexa browser toolbar installed, that I guarantee.

I use my 61 yr old Mum as an example; she’d happily use Google search and visit my tourism website, she’d happily use Google search and visit food and health niches. She certainly would not ever install willingly a toolbar by Alexa.

There lies the issue with Alexa as a ranking tool. You are only ever going to get an indication of your business website popularity from a small percentage of Technology/IT savvy internet users. The results are slewed severely.

The various discussions online about Alexa being popular with the male IT crowd sums it up. My tourism niche web visitors are mainly female with families or holiday cottage owners. They are not 20 yr old somethings working full time in IT, so my Alexa site ranking will not reflect my high popularity within my tourism search niche.

The rise in Alexa popularity once again, I believe, is directly connected to the rise in young IT Experts from developing countries who naturally are going to install all sorts of browser extensions that allow them to track and monitor their own IT niches and competitors.

What the SEO Marketing Experts completely fail to understand is that website traffic needs to be broadly measured; across as wide a spectrum as possible. You cannot rank a site in popularity based on a tiny proportion of global population.

It’s like saying my website ranks #1 for men in Ireland called Malcolm Oakley. IT sites rank very well on Alexa because people working in IT use Alexa.

Google WMT and Analytics serve my needs. I can easily monitor my monthly traffic trends (tourism sites don’t do so well in the summer obviously – as eveyone is already on holiday). If you want to measure the popularity of a website, I would suggest asking to view recent Analytics data, at least that way you are viewing traffic trends from as wide a demographic as possible.

Author by Malcolm Oakley


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