Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data and ranking. It was founded as an independent company in 1996 but was acquired by Amazon in 1999. It 2009, it became a purely analytics-focused company and based on a website’s popularity, started to provide a website ranking system. For example, it currently ranks Google as # 1 website in the world and Facebook as # 2. What it means IS that as per Alexa, Google is the most popular website across the globe followed closely by Facebook. The big question here is how does Alexa ranking system work?
When I started this blog, I used to refer to how Alexa was ranking my website, to the extent that I used to check every other day if my ranking improved. This is when I started noticing that something was not right. Number of visitors to my website was constantly going up, numbers of sessions was increasing which means that my website my getting popular so the ranking should have improved but surprisingly, my Alexa rank pretty much remained the same over a few months. Rather, Google Analytics would show the number of sessions going up and Alexa would show my website rank coming down. So I did a little research to find out how can I increase my website’s rank and was completely surprised of what I found out.
Alexa ranks its websites based on the data collected from Alexa Toolbar.
Alexa offers a toolbar that people can install in their browsers. This toolbar tracks the user’s internet activity and sends the data to Alexa. Based on this data, Alexa ranks the website. So in short, more the number of visitors to a website with Alexa toolbar, better a site’s rank would be. They do claim to be getting their data from other resources as well but do not mention what those resources are. This claim might be valid but the fact remains that Alexa toolbar is their primary source of data.
Problem here is that not many people have Alexa toolbar installed. Rather, people would prefer to not have a toolbar installed at all as it is just a useless addition to your browser and quite capable of slowing it down. It would also eat a fraction of your bandwidth while it stays connected to Alexa database. Biggest problem however is that major antivirus companies like Norton, Symantec and McAfee consider Alexa as “adware” or “trackware” and for a pretty good reason. This is a clear breach in a person’s privacy. Who would want that their internet habits be tracked and then sent to a company for analysis? Because of this, Alexa’s data is severely limited, only a very small set of numbers which cannot be capable of reflecting an accurate picture.
Problem occurs when several major ad companies like Google itself refer to Alexa’s rank in order to determine a website’s popularity. The better a website’s rank more the chances of people interested in placing their ad on its pages. Due to this reason, some people particularly remain concerned about how their website is performing in Alexa world. If you want to find out the Alexa rank for your webpage, just log on to Alexa.Com, type your site’s name and hit enter. You will also notice that on their pages, they have paid services as well but please do not fall for it. They have nothing to offer that Google is not already offering for free through webmasters tools and Google Analytics. In fact, Google free services would offer you a more accurate and better data than Alexa’s paid services would. Sign up with them, pay a hefty sum of money each month and you see you ranking improve which kind of shows how biased they are.
There are several ways to cheat Alexa ranking. The easiest one is to install an Alexa toolbar in your browser and run a bot from your own computer. Another way is to use their redirection service or write an article about them on your website. I have not tried either of these methods so cannot really guarantee anything but this is what I read over the web. In fact, If you googled it, you will find several other articles with more information on how Alexa ranking is completely bogus.