Many people access the Alexa.com website regularly in order to gain analytical information pertaining to their websites. A lot of people put a great deal of stock into the Alexa rating system. While it may be a useful tool in determining how some of your visitors access the site, is it truly a representative of how well your blog performs?
Those that install the Alexa toolbar are the most prominent sources of the rating system. Every website these users access is recorded in the system in order to provide a list of the most popular sites. Unfortunately, there are a few aspects of the system that can skew the results making it less than ideal to use as a way to gauge performance such as:
- Tracks all activity of the root domain
- Alexa toolbar users are the primary source of information
- Installing the toolbar yourself can inflate the rating
1. The Root Domain
Any access to various parts of your website impact the root domain in Alexa. This means that if you have subdomains within your site each with a separate blog or different subject material, all of the visits will be displayed under your primary domain name. For instance, visits to boating.123abc.com and daycare.123abc.com will combine to give an overall rating for 123abc.com. If you need statistical information separating those two subdomains, Alexa is not the tool you want to use.
2. Alexa Toolbar/Extension Users
Those using the installable toolbar or browser extensions from Alexa are the primary methods of collecting information. This means that users that do not have the toolbar installed are not reflected in Alexa’s data. While the toolbar itself is used by a wide variety of individuals, the data is still incomplete in order to justify the rating system.
3. Your Own Toolbar/Extension Installation
If you install the toolbar yourself and frequent your own website, this could inflate the rating to make the site look more appealing. Unfortunately, it also provides you with a false sense of security that your site is performing well. If you use Joomla, WordPress or any other content management system that utilizes an administrator panel for submitting content, the Alexa toolbar will record that visit. Even if you’re not trying to inflate your rating, it can still happen simply by accessing the admin panel of your website.
Are there Benefits to Using Alexa?
Although the rating results can be completely skewed by your own activity, Alexa can still provide decent information pertaining to those users that access its pages. While this list of information is centered around Alexa toolbar users, it can still be valuable to further engage those individuals by showing:
- Keywords used by those visitors to find your content
- Basic biographical data of the Alexa users
- Basic demographic data of user locations
- Daily time spent on your website
- Bounce rate percentage
Coincidentally, all of this information is also available in other free tools such as Google Analytics which bases information regarding all of your visitors and not just those with a toolbar installed.
For what it is, Alexa can be beneficial to give you an overall sense of your blog’s potential. However, the numbers are greatly misleading as there are too many ways that the rating can be modified. Although your blog may look popular according to the Alexa rating, that doesn’t mean you can start planning for your retirement.