How reliable is Alexa in measuring your site’s traffic rank?

Alexa Traffic RankingEven to someone like me who enjoys browsing over site statistics and testing the accuracy of the resulting metrics, understanding an Alexa traffic rank is not an easy task.

Except for the fact that the Alexa traffic ranking system is based on information generated from Alexa toolbar users and that “A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of Reach and Page Views” plus some kind of “data normalization” which also are not explained, there is not much information about the Alexa ranking system.

In its FAQ, Alexa also stated: “Alexa’s traffic rankings are based on the past three months of global traffic according to our diverse data sources, and are updated weekly.”

Given this minimum traffic tracking period, I wonder how a blog like mine ~ although barely two weeks old ~ was able to attract a traffic ranking. Is it because my blog is hosted by WordPress.com, and Alexa is biased to WordPress.com-hosted sites? I don’t think so. I know of other sites hosted by WordPress.com which have been online for many months now, yet they are still showing an Alexa “No Data” status. I am certain that some people are visiting those sites. (Note: The small Alexa image on this page shows “No Data” for Alexa which we could only surmise that Alexa did not like to make its traffic ranking public.)

I think I will stick to metrics like unique visits, page views and the like in gauging site traffic performances. At least, these figures are easy to understand, and I can explain the figures to other people.

But I cannot say the same thing with Alexa’s traffic ranking. After all, according to Alexa, if a site traffic ranking is beyond 100,000, the figures are statistically meaningless. For a site traffic rank to be statistically meaningful and reliable, a site should be close to the top rank. Quite a tall order, isn’t it?

Alexa’s statements read as follows:

Sites with relatively low measured traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa. Our data comes from many various sources, including our Alexa users; however, we do not receive enough data from these sources to make rankings beyond 100,000 statistically meaningful. (However, on the flip side of that, the closer a site gets to #1, the more reliable its rank.)

With many websites that are not even close to the top 1,000 or even 50,000 (let alone #1), I wonder why advertising placement agencies even bother to look at a website’s Alexa traffic rank!



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6 responses to “How reliable is Alexa in measuring your site’s traffic rank?

  1. How does the Alexa rank system consider itself to be reliable versus google? I mean if googles pr is based upon seo and good content and inbound links and so on how can alexa be reliable if it really only measures a sites popularity when someone clicks an alexa button or graph that MIGHT be on the site or if the visit the site and just happen to have the alexa toolbar installed? My current alexa rank is in the mid 450,000 and my pr in google is 0. I need to raise my google pr. And I can’t do much of anything else on my site in terms of seo. Any advice?

    • Hi Dave

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Firstly, I am not an SEO expert and I don’t claim to be one, so I am not in a position to give advice on SEO matters.

      But here are my thoughts on Alexa and Google’s PR.

      On Alexa: I totally agree with you. I have been asking the same question. That is why I don’t place reliance on Alexa in measuring the popularity of a site for the same reasons you mentioned. And that is the gist of my post. I don’t rely on it, full stop.

      On Google’s PR: I understand that Google has already removed PageRank in Webmaster Tools with one Google analyst reported as saying that people “shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much… We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it…”

      If at all, PageRank should be looked at as “a good indicator of a site’s behavior in Google’s index.”

      So where does that leave us?

      I am not sure yet. My concern is to generate, and maintain, a respectable traffic size and quality visits for my sites, something that will attract advertisers.

      It’s nice to know what my sites’ Alexas and PRs are, but I am not very much concerned about these numbers. After all, my advertising clients do not care about Alexa or Google PR. They are more interested in basic information like unique visits, page views, site demographics, and other similar useful information which can easily be fetched by a good analytics program.

      Is there a composite index or ranking system to capture all these metrics? I don’t know of any. Even if there is one, I will not rely on it if it does not have access to a webserver’s log.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Yes it does help. I just logged into webmaster tools and didn’t see anything related to page rank just like you said. So maybe now I should just focus on content and traffic. Im not really worried much about advertising revenue. I am interested in just increasing traffic. I just started this site last Febuary and have went from 10 to 1,000 visitors per month to 10,000 and 13,000 in the last 4 months. So I am definatley improving. Thanks for the advice. Maybe we will get lucky one day and someone will develop a recognized tool for reliable website and url stats that measures all of the important things in REAL time. Thank you Romy!

  3. Pingback: TEXT CAFE » How reliable is Alexa in measuring your site’s traffic rank?

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