How important is a good Alexa ranking?

alexaBasically an Alexa ranking is not important. Having a high or low Alexa ranking does not help a site one bit, unless you want to use it to impress people who are impressed by this sort of thing, but do not understand it.

Alexa have a toolbar that can be installed in web browsers. Alexa collects data on the sites that users of the toolbar visit to rank sites based on the traffic to them. They do combine this with some other data, that they have not specified, when they do give a rank to a site. Millions of users have the toolbar installed. A low Alexa ranking means that a site has more visitors from those with the toolbar installed. They do publish the rankings of sites.

The whole concept of an Alexa ranking is flawed because:

  1. Even though a few million people may have the toolbar installed, those who have the toolbar installed, are more likely to be technologically savvy and more likely to be webmasters interested in their Alexa ranking. This means that the sites that these people tend to visit are more likely to have a higher Alexa ranking.
  2. The best way to improve an Alexa ranking is to install the toolbar and just visit your own site a few times a day (and even better if you can get a friend to do the same) and then watch the big improvement in the site’s Alexa ranking. Make sure you do not visit your competitors site, as just visiting them will improve their ranking! This makes a mockery of the Alexa rankings.
  3. There are a number of services that you can pay to improve your Alexa ranking.

Some do like to claim that Alexa is more accurate for sites ranked in the top 1000, but even that is still biased by the technically savvy population that use the toolbar.  Some claim it is a helpful way to keep an eye on competitors (but your competitors ranking may be very dependent on if they have the toolbar installed or not!). Some also claim that it is useful when trying to sell advertising on a site or sell a site as it gives the buyer some idea of traffic. But the only buyer that is going to be impressed with that are those that do not understand the Alexa ranking (eg the seller could have just have got a lot of friends to click on the site with the toolbar to improve the ranking just prior to the sale).

The Alexa ranking is what it is. It is just some entertainment for webmasters.

And for your entertainment here is the widget from Alexa for the ranking of Forum Doc:

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One Response to How important is a good Alexa ranking?

  1. Ben Bland April 6, 2011 at 3:33 AM #

    I’m debating including Alexa ranking in some competitor reserach for a client and after reading this post I’m not convinced that it would be unhelpful to do so.

    In this particular case, all the competitors have popular websites and have fitted the Alexa toolbar. So a few clicks by friends wouldn’t make a significant difference to ranking, right? And I don’t need to worry about any competitor sites that don’t have the toolbar fitted, as there aren’t any in this competitor set.

    Just something to consider. Your points are still valid and helpful (thank you!), but there may be cases where they’re not applicable.

    Ben

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