Everything about Alexa Traffic Rankings



Alexa traffic ranking is a useful tool to measure the success of your website. To determine the rankings, Alexa collects traffic data on a daily basis from millions of Alexa toolbar users as well as from other sources. The data collected is sorted and a complex mathematical formula is used to arrive at the rankings.

 What is traffic rank?

In simple words, Alexa traffic rank is a measure of the popularity of a website. Alexa traffic rank tells you the performance of your website compared to all the other websites over a period of last three months. The reach and page views are the two main parameters used for calculating traffic rankings. The reach is the number of Alexa toolbar users visiting a website on a given day. Page views refer to the number of times a particular page of the website is viewed by Alexa toolbar users. Therefore, the rank of a website is a reflection of the number of users on a website and the number of pages viewed by those users. To arrive at the rankings, the data is collected and computed for the past three months. The current rank of the site is then compared with the rank of the site three months ago.

 What are sites and web hosts?

For the purpose of determining the rankings, the sites are defined at the domain level. To illustrate this point, we can take the example of the popular web portal yahoo.com. The web hosts yahoo.com, finance.yahoo.com and sports.yahoo.com reside on the same domain (yahoo.com), they are not treated as separate sites. This rule applies to all the websites, the only exception being blogs and personal home pages. Also, two different sites with the same content are not counted as separate sites.

 What is Reach?

The reach is basically the number of users coming to your website. It is expressed in percentage. Continuing with the above example, if yahoo.com has a reach of 40% (assumed figure), it means 40% of global internet users visit yahoo.com. The current month’s reach of a website can be compared to its reach three months ago to find out any increase or decrease in traffic.

 What are page views?

Page views are an important parameter upon which the Alexa site rankings are based. Page views are basically the number of pages internet users visit before they leave your website. If a user views a particular page of your website multiple times in a day, it will be counted only once. Again, site’s current page view numbers can be compared with those from three months ago to gain an understanding of an increase or decrease in page views.

 How are traffic trend graphs calculated?

The purpose of Trend graph is to show a three-day moving average of the website’s daily traffic rank, charted over time. The daily traffic rank uses the data for a single day to reflect the website traffic. On the other hand, three months of aggregate traffic data is taken into consideration for calculating the main traffic rank.

The websites that experience sudden high traffic can benefit from daily traffic rankings. Three-month traffic rankings, on the other hand, are more useful for the websites with consistent traffic over time. The websites should strive for achieving regular and consistent traffic. The purpose behind using the daily traffic rank in the trend graphs is to allow businesses to see short term fluctuations in the number of visitors and page views.

Three-month traffic rank is used to represent the success of a website as consistent traffic is considered a better indication of website’s popularity. A website may achieve higher rank by receiving high website traffic on a single day. Bust as they say, it’s the slow and steady that wins the race. A website that receives good traffic consistently over a period of time is likely to succeed in the online industry.

What is Data Normalization?

There are many factors that can influence the ranking of a website. The ranking methodology of Alexa has been designed in such as way that it corrects many potential biases that can provide an unfair advantage or disadvantage to the visitors. Be it biases in demographic distribution of site visitors or in the data collected from toolbar, Alexa’s ranking methodology corrects all biases and presents an accurate picture of website’s performance.

What is movers and shakers list?

The websites on movers and shakers list are listed on the basis of changes in average reach. The average reach of the current week is compared with the average reach of previous weeks. The greater the change, the higher the website will appear on the movers and shakers list. If the change is insignificant the site will appear lower on the list.

The percentage change shown in movers and shakers list should not be confused with the reach or page views shown on Alexa toolbar. The traffic rankings shown on this list are weekly traffic rankings. The ranking shown on Alexa toolbar, on the other hand, are three-month traffic rankings. The list can be a useful tool for conducting market research.

Alexa’s Disclaimers

Alexa toolbar is used to collect traffic data of websites. This may not accurately represent the global internet population. The actual traffic coming to a website may be more or less than the traffic estimated by Alexa for the purpose of arriving at the rankings. Alexa’s sample of users may also differ from the set of all internet users.

The ‘site’ definitions used by Alexa may adversely affect the traffic data in some cases. The automated procedures used by Alexa to determine which hosts are serving the ‘same’ content may not yield accurate results. Also, the determination of domains and home pages may also be inaccurate.

Alexa mainly relies on Alexa toolbar users for collection of data. However, due to the immense size of the web and high concentration of the users on the popular websites, it becomes difficult for Alexa to determine the ranking of sites with low traffic.

Posted in News, Search Marketing

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