I remember back in 2004 or so installing the Alexa toolbar, and forgetting about it but Alexa seems to have grown in perceived importance over the years. There’s also a lot of questions surrounding Alexa, how they rank, how to increase your traffic ranking, does it impact SEO, and other issues we’re going to dive into today.
Since this is a common topic or question that bloggers often ask, it seems fitting to write about this in Day 2 of the 31 day blogging challenge.
What Is Alexa Ranking?
Alexa was acquired back in 1999 by Amazon. It’s basically an algorithm that calculates or estimates a calculation of a website’s traffic.
According to Alexa, the rankings are calculated based on total reach of a website, with page views and total visits to the site. They used to gather data from the toolbar back in the day but it seems to have grown in sophistication since then using third party sources for their data collection.
So to put it in simple words, they rank sites based on total unique visitors and how many pages they visit over a 3 month period.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Income Bully income reports, you will notice I keep track of Alexa rank growth and many of you have asked me why. The only reason I’m tracking it is because it’s a fun metric to track. It doesn’t have a huge amount of importance to me. For example… if I hit a plateau in traffic, but my alexa rank continues to increase, what good does that do for me?
So Does Alexa Rank Really Matter?
There are a lot of metrics out there that try to gauge the importance of a website. Alexa isn’t alone in that area, you see it often with Ahrefs URL rank, Moz’s Page Authority and Domain Authority, you still see people using PageRank as a metric even though it hasn’t been updated since 2013.
Even Alexa says there is a wide variance in reporting for sites ranking above 100,000 so if you’re tracking the success of a website based on Alexa rank and you’re ranking in the millions then it probably isn’t going to be very effective in telling you how successful you are.
While it may not be entirely accurate, it could be useful for some bloggers that are selling advertising on their blog or site, and it could also be useful for those looking to BUY advertising space on other sites.
HARO (help a reporter out) is a service that’s pretty useful for those in the media and those looking for publicity. Many reporters, bloggers or journalists will require those that respond to have a certain alexa ranking for their website. HARO itself used to require anyone that submitted an inquiry to be in the top 1 million of Alexa ranking in order to be able to have a submission. Not sure if they still do that, it’s been awhile since I’ve used it but it’s an example of it still having a certain level of perceived importance.
For internet marketers doing the whole “make money online” thing with CPA networks, may care more than the normal person about their Alexa rank since some of those networks require a certain level of traffic and ranking with Alexa before you get accepted. I guess they think the higher Alexa rank, the higher quality the traffic would be.
Those that flip sites, will also care about Alexa rankings.
Does Alexa matter though? In general, no. There are a few cases where it matters but it’s only because of misinformation by those that are in a position of influence.
If you’re a blogger or webmaster, not monitoring important metrics could lead to failure, but Alexa Rank is not one of those metrics!
(Side note: I once lost out on a potential high paying client because my Alexa rank was lower than the company they chose. No amount of convincing that Alexa wasn’t important mattered. He was gauging the ability of a company based on Alexa Rank. How many other people are out there that believe that nonsense? Craziness! )
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Does Alexa Rank Impact SEO At All?
So we already talked about whether Alexa rank mattered, in general and the answer was basically it depends. It depends only because of the ignorance of some influential networks and people out there. I’m sure you already know what I’m going to say about Alexa and SEO, right?
There are so many people on Yahoo Answers, Quora, Forums and even what some would consider “high authority” blogs that talk about Alexa and how Google uses it as one of it’s factors. There are a lot of myths in marketing and SEO and this is definitely one of those myths.
First of all, why on earth would Google use Alexa as a ranking factor when Alexa’s analytics are based on just a small sample size using data normalization? Google is the epitome of big data. They have Google Analytics, Android, adsense, webmaster tools, Chrome, and countless other properties that give them ALL the data they need.
Instead of using logic, these “authorities” are using correlation, and we all know correlation does not mean causation. I understand why some people can be confused though.
It can be confusing to some because a lot of popular sites have pretty good rankings, and they also have pretty good Alexa rankings to go with the SERPs but it doesn’t mean THAT is the reason why they’re ranking in Google. Google will never base their business model on another company, especially Amazon!
The only thing that Alexa can do for you from an SEO standpoint, is to provide you a backlink to your website.
Still not convinced whether Alexa rank is important or not?
How To Improve Your Alexa Rank
If you really care about Alexa as a metric then I guess I can give you these tips to improve your alexa rank. For the rest of you, these tips will show you how easily you can game the Alexa ranking algorithm and why it really shouldn’t be important for ANYBODY out there.
To improve your alexa rank you can:
- Go to fiverr… $5 and you can send yourself some spam traffic with the Alexa toolbar installed and skyrocket in the rankings.
- Install the toolbar for yourself, and visit your site multiple times a day, going through each page on your website.
- Install the Alexa widget on your site (which gives them a backlink as well, by the way)
If you want to legitimately increase your Alexa rank, don’t focus on it. Focus on growing your traffic instead. As your traffic increases, chances are the sample size Alexa uses, will frequent your site more and grow your ranking naturally.
Some other blogs out there on this topic, suggest creating awesome content, building backlinks, do guest blogging and all that other stuff. Obviously that would be good advice in general to increase your traffic but it surprises me that they are suggesting that specifically to increase your Alexa rank instead of just increasing your traffic.
Judging by the keyword data on this topic, it seems that a lot of people are searching for answers. I never would have thought this would be a topic that there’s a lot of confusion on but there is.
I hope this cleared up any confusion for those of you reading this or finding this from the search results.
And to those of you that will surely come back and tell me that the analytics Alexa provides makes it worthy tool of analyzing your website or your competitors, you can do better by installing Google Analytics and Bing Webmaster tools, along with using other 3rd party analysis tools out there.