Shubham is an aspiring clinical psychologist, who also happens to be a blogger for corporates and startups.
Is Alexa traffic rank a relevant metric to see how your business is performing online? Is the tool enough to guess your SEO efforts? Read to know more
- Alexa is a basic analytics toolbar that provides you with your keyword data, daily users, and the average time spent by users on your site, making it a good KPI for benchmarking and competitive analysis.
- Alexa ranks websites based on popularity, irrespective of the quality of traffic a website receives.
- While Alexa ranking seems pretty straightforward, there are many ways these rankings could be manipulated, making it an unreliable analytics tool.
- Alexa is not as advanced as Google analytics, and therefore is not to be relied upon solely.
Whichever kind of digital marketing strategy your business follows, it will be practically incompetent if it doesn’t align with SEO algorithms. And since the lack of a proper SEO strategy prevents search engines from discovering you, people cannot discover you either.
As being in the good graces of every ranking tool seems like a viable option, many webmasters are competing on all kinds of ranking platforms to top the ranking leaderboards.
So, where does your Alexa ranking on all search engine platforms mean?
You have heard people talking about how vital their Alexa traffic rank is. You’d have seen multiple websites proudly displaying their Alexa ranking banners.
But the fact is…...
The Alexa traffic rank is one of the most debated ranking factors among webmasters, with its ‘relevancy’ being the center of the debate.
While some people believe that the Alexa website ranking has a significant emphasis on discovering your website in the SERPs, most of them wouldn’t worry about it at all.
And if you are in the middle grounds, unclear about which side to partake with, this detailed explanation of the Alexa traffic rank is going to clear up things for you.
1. Alexa Ranking - What is it?
Your site is probably listed on Alexa.
And yet, to your surprise, you haven’t even installed their tracking codes on your website at all. So how does Alexa provide you with your website analytics?
The answer is that it records visitors using the Alexa toolbar.
Alexa has been popular in the website analytics industry. The users install the Alexa toolbar extension in their web browsers, which helps them determine their websites’ popularity.
Image source - Google
Boiling down its functionalities, it lists as many domains as recorded to date along with their recorded traffic in the past three months. The more traffic your site has, the higher your site ranks in the database.
And while it gives you a good idea of how your website is doing traffic-wise, there's no way it could replace a potential web analytics tool that monitors your site thoroughly to examine the different portions of your traffic.
Alexa rank is considered essential by some site owners who want to analyze their website quickly. Why? Because it provides you high-level data with basic important details like your website analytics, the popularity of the multiple keyword opportunities, that you might need at that moment.
But certainly, this is not enough.
2. How is an Alexa Rank measured?
As claimed by Alexa itself, the website ranking is calculated by putting together two elements:
- The estimated average daily unique visitors on your site
- The number of page views your site has received over the last three months.
Remember these two factors, because they have a lot of significant impact on how the data is presented to you.
This data collected by Alexa is taken from a sample of millions of internet users with one of the many browser extensions installed with Chrome, Firefox, or any such browser that allows extensions.
The data is also gathered from websites that have the Alexa script installed, along with a few third-party sources.
Altogether, this data is accumulated to determine your Alexa score. The site with the highest combination of the two factors mentioned above receives the number one ranking.
3. How to check your website’s Alexa Rank?
Contrary to popular belief, hundreds of thousands of webmasters are ‘just interested’ in checking their Alexa traffic rank. It doesn’t hurt to look at all as well.
And why not? After all, it’s as easy as performing a Google search.
All you have to do is to visit the Alexa Rank Analysis Tool.
Enter the domain you are interested in looking up, and you will be displayed with all the information you need from this tool.
Surprisingly, this tool provides you enough information to get a rough idea of how your site is potentially performing. Over the years, there has also been an addition of certain useful features, that include:
- The top keywords your site is ranking for
- Multiple keyword opportunities that you have
- Similar sites, based on the audience overlap
- Average time spent by users on your site
- Other important comparison metrics for your site
Even though hundreds of free tools could do the same kind of analysis for your site, Alexa seems like a reasonable option. It’s free, has a lot of features, and is ‘somewhat’ reliable.
4. How reliable is the Alexa Ranking System?
At a time where we have advanced web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, it seems a little negligent to rely on Alexa to understand your site’s analytics.
But for those who care about its authenticity, there are a lot of webmasters that are shown completely different reports and data on the Alexa rankings as compared to their actual analytics.
And if you are wondering how accurate is Alexa ranking, you need to understand that these reports come from a tool that provides you a report based on the unique visitors on your site.
Remember the two factors that we talked about above that are used to measure your Alexa rank?
Mind you, your Alexa rank ‘cannot’ determine the quality of your traffic or the sources you receive this traffic from.
So if you are really observant, you can figure out that there are a few core problems in the Alexa traffic rank system.
Core problems with Alexa traffic rank system
- The data that Alexa gathers isn't from every user, obviously. It only monitors a part of your traffic. This makes it apparent that it will certainly display inaccurate results since there's no chance that everybody has installed any such browser extension that will help them provide the most accurate results.
- Apparently, it's evident, even accepted by Alexa itself, that the only two factors used to calculate the Alexa rank is the combination of average daily unique visitors and the pageviews on the site over the last three months.
- As it records only the people that visit your site using the toolbar, it could easily be manipulated. Out of the millions of visitors on your site, only if 5000 people use the toolbar, it will seem that that's the only traffic you receive. And on the other hand, if a competitor has significantly lower users on his site but somehow his users use the toolbar, they will still rank above you on Alexa's list.
5. Does the Alexa Rank matter?
Here’s a fact - Some people are obsessed with improving their Alexa Rank, yet it barely matters to most of the webmasters. Mc Siegler from Techcrunch mentions that Alexa seems more of a landing page for advertisements now rather than being an analytics tool.
In the long run, you need to sustain and expand your business. For this purpose, you need to understand your audience better, evaluate the demographics, and most importantly, analyze the user behavior on your site.
Such kind of insightful data is something that Alexa can’t even provide at all. This means you again have to resort to Google Analytics to get such insights.
But does that mean Alexa is totally useless? Apparently, no!
Most webmasters need to know how their website has been performing recently and how their traffic is looking like. For this purpose, Alexa gives you a pretty clear idea of what you are dealing with.
Knowing how your website is performing, what is the average traffic on your site, and what keywords you are potentially ranking for is also pretty valuable for business owners. And in this regard, Alexa could be a potentially useful tool to help you compare your data against your competitors.
But as we talked about before, the Alexa traffic rank isn't accurate at all, since it only considers your average viewers and your daily pageviews. Furthermore, there's no such factor considered as the 'quality of traffic', making it an expendable tool.
And since the rankings are significantly influenced by the use of the toolbar extensions, as mentioned above, you can safely skip past the need to stress about your Alexa rankings and try to improve them.
6. What influence does the number of visitors to a website have on the Alexa ranking?
When you look at the list of sites in the Alexa database, it contains hundreds of sites with details such as:
- Daily time on site
- Daily Pageviews per visitor
- Percentage of traffic from search
- Total sites linking in
The list of websites at the same time is long. The best places take up a good portion of the traffic.
Towards the middle of the list, the high density of the places means that they could potentially rise through the rankings if they have an increased number of visitors.
But at the same time, the higher you rank in this list, the harder it becomes to improve your rankings.
Does the Alexa traffic rank impact your SERP rankings?
Businesses are crazy about their numbers being high as it appeals to a massive audience and potential clients.
The Alexa ranking tool in itself is pretty good to evaluate your website, find the keywords you rank for and identify how much traffic your website is generating as compared to the rest of the pages.
In short, Alexa could be considered such a tool that could be a go-to tool for quick analysis of a website based on its numbers.
What you should also realize is that often such inexact numbers could be taken at face value. This makes Alexa suitable for predicting the possible trends, especially when the data is based on the last three months.
On the contrary, if your SEO approaches are very detailed and you want to monitor (and understand) your traffic regularly, Alexa is not a suitable option at all. There are hundreds of other tools out there that are more effective, more accurate, and show way more personalized data than Alexa.
This ultimately begs the question - Does the Alexa traffic rank impact your SERP rankings?
It seems to not!
The only possible answer to this is that the impact Alexa has on SEO is that it can help you extract valuable insights about your website. This same data could be used to improve your SEO rankings.
Even though Alexa even has paid plans that could give you access to detailed reports for your site (along with SEO audit tools), what it offers is pretty basic as compared to the rest of the SEO tools available.
Here are some of the Alexa alternatives you should rely on.
7. Alexa Alternatives
As we mentioned, there are a lot of great tools on the internet that help you estimate your traffic and other important stats.
If you are in the market for the long term, you need an effective SEO tool to help you with your SERP rank tracking, keyword suggestions, and backlink monitoring.
Here are a few tools that you could definitely settle for if you need regular detailed reports about the metrics of your website:
- Moz Pro
- Raven tools
- SimilarWeb Pro
While most webmasters fret and follow specific methodologies to improve their Alexa rankings, you should know that it will naturally improve as your traffic increases and the quality of your website improves.
However, since you have a website that wants to flourish, you need a dedicated analytics tool setup, rather than a basic tool that just provides you roughly estimated data.
You can rely on Google Analytics. Not just because it's free, but also because it's very detailed and provides all the insights you need about your traffic. As per a report by Builtwith, more than 28 million websites globally use Google Analytics.
Even though Alexa does provide some valuable insights, there's really no need to be solely dependent on it to analyze your website.
And most importantly, don't use tools that provide estimate data, not especially to inform big decisions.
We hope this guide about Alexa Traffic Rank helped you understand this tool better and come to the decision that you really don’t need to worry about these rankings much.
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