Alexa Ranking

Much has been written about the accuracy of Alexa traffic rankings. While there is SEO consensus that Alexa rank is getting harder to game, there is still plenty of evidence that Alexa rankings are often innaccurate. As well as plenty of grumbling webmasters.

I am on Alexa’s side. Alexa is the internet’s most accurate free traffic ranking tool, and arguably about as accurate as Nielson ratings or Gallup polls (as judged by the size of Alexa’s statistical sample). Granted, the Alexa toolbar is only available for Internet Explorer, thereby negating the votes of surfers savvy enough to use Firefox 😉 . And granted, Alexa measures impressions which unfairly favors click-factories like MySpace over websites that only require one pageview. And granted, Google Analytics is probably a harbinger of an awesome Google-style Alexa site that I imagine is being developed as I type. But Alexa is currently the best traffic comparison tool we have, and is proven to be at least marginally accurate. Quantcast.com may be an interesting site when it gets out of Beta, but is currently less accurate than Alexa. So much like Democracy, Alexa is the least bad system we’ve got.

How This Relates to ValueWiki

The reason I bring this up is that ValueWiki is finally out of the Google Sandbox and now appears to be in some sort of Alexa Sandbox. ValueWiki traffic is experiencing a nice hockeystick chart now that Google has indexed more than 17,000 pages for the “valuewiki.com” domain and 5,600 pages for the “www.valuewiki.com” domain. A Google search for “ValueWiki” now returns over 100,000 pages. Meanwhile, it seems to be taking Alexa a while to register the new traffic jump. Alexa only checks our internet-reach once a week, and the results often leave Zach and I scratching our heads. The internet is full of disturbing anecdotes like Forscene.net which has claimed to have millions of daily impressions and no Alexa ranking.

Whether or not Alexa is reliably accurate, it is a benchmark for Silicon Valley VC’s and pundits and a badge of street cred in the Web 2.0 universe. So despite the supercilious stares of the SEO world, I will most likely continue my morning routine of checking my email, checking my stocks, and checking my Alexa ranking…

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7 Responses to Alexa Ranking

  1. […] are occasionally dubious. I agree the system is not perfect (I blogged about Alexa accuracy here), but it’s the least bad system we’ve got. BobsAdviceforStocks made number 1 on my list […]

  2. Your comments are interesting….I have found that that alexa is very inaccuate…sitemeter is not much better. We just had record traffic on our server the past week/10 days and our alexa rank went from 550k to 2.2 million…what a joke.

    But you certainly set off a shitstorm…from my limited view of blogstreet (2-4 months now) the world of wall st blogs is sleazier than the real street…a number of sites link to each other in a pathetic attempt to pad page views…and a cabal of VC investors and some high profile bloggers favor linking to sites that they have a vested interest in. Many of these sites are boring at best, and highly inaccurate at worst. Who needs em?

    The most blatant offenders kiss MSM ass…it is funny to read though.

    Maybe everyone should focus on value added content…the real street is inundated with research. Some sites want raw numbers…others target a narrow audience.

    Blog street is like high school…a pathetic popularity contest. Shut em all down and just read Ritholtz!

    SJ

  3. fyi…a post from jason calacanis

    Alexa is 100% wrong and you can game it with as few as three machines–or so I’ve been told.

    Alexa does not work at all and we should not even recognize it as valid anymore from what I’ve learned.

    You can game Alexa with as few as three machines running the Alexa toolbar.

    http://www.calacanis.com/2006/11/24/alexa-is-100-wrong-and-you-can-game-it-with-as-few-as-three-mac/

  4. Jon says:

    StockJockey,

    I’m the first to admit Alexa isn’t perfect. Here at ValueWiki, we’re constantly scratching our heads over rankings.

    However, Calacanis saying “Alexa is 100% wrong” is not true either… 100% of websites don’t game the system! Maybe only 1%.

    For the record, many SEO geeks have performed Calacanis’s experiment and proved it invalid. Alexa isn’t run by a bunch of monkeys. They assign every toolbar an ID. From what I’ve read, if one ID is refreshing 100’s of times a day, that triggers the Alexa algorhythm to stop counting it. This is easy programming for Alexa; it’s like how Google Adsense knows if one user’s clicking all the ads!

    There may still be ways to game Alexa. But in my opinion it is still a valid tool for traffic comparison, particularly for larger sites. Anyway, you’ve raised an interesting topic; maybe I will blog about it next week.

    Jon

  5. Nice work…appreciate the time you put in the alexa series. I have been checking out quantcast…did not know about it until you mentioned it. Keep us up on developments in web analytics etc if you have the time.

    I will go to work soon and try to pick up a benjamin…

  6. Samuel L. says:

    This is very up-to-date information. I’ll share it on Facebook.

  7. Only want to say your article is brilliant. The lucidity in your post is simply spectacular and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with future post. Thanks a million and please keep up the sound work.

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