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Alexa Rankings Suck.

– Posted in: SEM (Search Engine Marketing), Traffic Strategies

I am no longer using Alexa rankings in any serious way when I analyze a website. I used to love Alexa rankings, and checked the cool little Alexa bar on the bottom of my Firefox browser every time I went to a site. But unfortunately, it’s just not very accurate anymore. Whether it ever was, I don’t know, but I can prove, without any doubt, that it is COMPLETELY inaccurate.

If you aren’t familiar with Alexa, it’s a company that claims to rank websites by how much traffic they get, the lower the number, the more traffic- for example, as of this writing, Google is number 1 on Alexa, Facebook is 2, Youtube is three, and this blog is 222,964, meaning there are (supposedly) 222,963 sites out there that get more traffic. But I don’t believe it, and neither should you, and here’s why:

Here’s a screen shot of two of my websites, taken directly from Google analytics:

The number on the left is the total traffic in the last 30 days, the next column shows time spent on the site, then bounce rate, and goal conversions. Not that any of that matters for this post, other than showing one site is really new, and has very little traffic or goal conversions yet, the other is established and obviously gets much more traffic.

Now, here are screen shots of the Alexa Rankings on each site:

Alexa Rankings for the other:

First of all, wouldn’t you expect a much bigger discrepancy between the two sites, one getting 547 visitors in the last 30 days, and the other 147,000? Secondly, and here’s the kicker: The site with 547 visitors has an Alexa ranking of 193,218!

So the lesson, dear reader, is obvious. As the title of my post states, Alexa rankings suck. As an alternative, and to get a lot more, and better information, I recommend and am now using semrush, which gives tons of great stats, including a more accurate traffic guesstimate, than Alexa..

Comments on this entry are closed.

pozycjonowanie warszawa July 24, 2010, 4:18 pm

Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this also – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get anything done… Regards

website traffic generator July 28, 2010, 10:06 am

This is really fantastic news. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

Hermelinda Shanno August 5, 2010, 2:54 pm

This site is so great that i will honor it with my comment 🙂

Franklin August 6, 2010, 3:47 am

Hi Dave,

I have been receiving lots of cool marketing stuff from you lately, and I must admit I love them. You are one of those IM whom I didn’t opt out from their lists, the other Kim Roach.

With regards to your post on Alexa as not reliable as others thought it is, here’s my thought.

Your site with a lower traffic that ranks higher in Alexa probably has a lower competitor in that niche compared to the other, thus it ranks higher….

I don’t know much about internet marketing much so analysis because I am still learning, but that is how I see it…

What do you think?

Dave Sherwin August 6, 2010, 7:16 am

Thanks! You made my day!

As for Alexa, I am pretty sure I know what the problem is. The site that ranks higher is visited by marketers who are more likely to have the Alexa toolbar on their machine, or other analysis software that includes an Alexa widget. So it over-calculates visitors because of the higher frequency of “Alexatized” visitors. They need to find a better way of gathering their analytics.

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