In Defense of Alexa Ranking
As I pointed out in my first Alexa post, the internet is filled with webmasters grumbling about Alexa rankings. After I posted the Top 60 Finance Blogs by Alexa Ranking, blog reader StockJockeyutc pointed out the Jason Calacanis blog post “Alexa is 100% Wrong.”
Why Jason Calacanis Can’t Game Alexa
Jason Calacanis founded Weblogs and ran Netscape, so he’s obviously no dummy. In his post, he attempts to “game” Alexa by encouraging his blog readers to download the Alexa Toolbar and refresh his homepage every ten minutes. The problem is, Alexa is not run by a bunch of monkeys.
“Multiple page views of the same page made by the same user on the same day are counted only once.”
Everyone in SEO knows that once upon a time, you could game Alexa in this manner. But it’s 2007 and Alexa’s algorhythm has long since closed these loopholes. Every toolbar assigns a unique ID to each IP. So if everyone in your web company downloads the toolbar, Alexa immediately matches your IP’s and cancels out your votes. Any webmaster who thinks they can game Alexa by simply refreshing their homepage probably thinks they can make money by reclicking their google ads. The internet has moved past this.
Alexa Critics are 92.3% Wrong!
So it would appear that Jason Calacanis’s post “Alexa is 100% Wrong” is itself 100% wrong! Okay, okay, I apologize for my snarkiness. If I’m being harsh on Jason, it’s only my frustration with this internet fallacy that “Alexa is worthless.” Even if Jason could game Alexa, it’s still intellectually irresponsible to post “Alexa is 100% Wrong” considering that only a tiny fraction of websites would even attempt to manipulate their rankings.
Note that Jason has never posted the results to his November experiment. Nor has he posted a retraction. It seems a little unfair that accusations like Jason’s can get a front page Digg, but you never see retractions or apologies. As a result, more people than ever falsely believe “Alexa is 100% wrong.” This is irresponsible blogging.
All this being said, Alexa is far from perfect. But it’s better than you think. It has to do with the mathematics of probability sampling. I’ll explore the nitty gritty in Alexa Ranking – Part Three.
*You can download the Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox here*