What Is It?
Alexa.com tries to rank all websites on the internet in terms of popularity.
A site with an Alexa rank of 1 means that Alexa.com perceives that site to be the most
popular website on the internet. On the other hand if a site has an Alexa rank of 50,000
that site is perceived to be the 50,000th most popular site on the internet.
Notice how I keep mentioning "perceive" - there is a reason for this, which is that
Alexa traffic rankings are not very accurate. This is due to the fact that Alexa.com
makes all it's assumptions using data collected by the Alexa toolbar, a toolbar which
some internet users have installed on their browsers. This toolbar collects information
such as which sites they visit, how many pages they view etc...
Why Is It Inaccurate?
Some of the various factors that make the Alexa traffic rank inaccurate are listed
- Only a small proportion of internet users actually have this toolbar installed,
which means that sampling data is somewhat limited.
- A large proportion of these Alexa toolbar users seem to be in specific groups.
An example of one of these groups is webmasters. Now imagine 2 sites, 1 of which is
a webmaster resource site like this site and the other a golf lessons site. Even if
the 2 sites had exactly the same number of unique visitors a day, the webmaster
resource site would be ranked above the golf site as more people with the Alexa toolbar
would visit it.
- A webmaster with the Alexa toolbar installed could repeatedly visit his own
site to artificially improve his Alexa traffic rank.
The Alexa traffic rank is a very vague measure of traffic to a specific site. It
should never be relied on too heavily as it is so easy to manipulate. However any
site with an Alexa traffic rank of better (less) than 10,000 could be assumed to
have a good amount of traffic.
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