A website’s Alexa rank is based on visitors who also have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser. A lower Alex rank means a higher level of traffic (the site with an Alexa rank of 1 is the most visited website in the world, according to Alexa). So how accurate is Alexa’s traffic data?

  • Alexa obviously can’t record people visiting sites without the toolbar and for this reason isn’t a 100% accurate measure of a site’s traffic (their data is just a sample).
  • An Alexa ranking can be spammed by simply installing the toolbar and browsing around a single site over and over again.
  • Alexa’s data is skewed towards web savvy and tech related people, as they’re the ones most likely to have the toolbar installed, so site traffic sampling is further inaccurate for most web sites non-tech related.
  • It’s difficult to compare two sites in two different industries using Alexa simply because of the bias in traffic data.

Do search engines care about your Alexa ranking?

I haven’t seen any indication that search engines use alexa rank in their algorithms, since the engines are after relevancy a 3rd party traffic sampling isn’t always going to paint a good picture for every site. Besides, search engines are able to record outbound traffic from their serps, so they know who navigates to which site after doing a search query – and sites’s that use Google’s Analytics show much more data than Alexa ever will. Also of note, the engines place less weight on external factors and give more weight to on-page factors as competition decreases, so even if Alexa data was being used it would likely have a very small impact on searches that query the majority of your site’s deeper, information rich content 🙂

What is an Alexa ranking good for?

  • If anything, a search engine might use a site’s Alexa rank rate of change as an indicator to watch a site more closely for spam, but I doubt it.
  • People that have the alexa browser toolbar installed are probably more tech savvy, more likely to be webmasters and more likely to be people who are able to blog about or link at your website – so a link from a tech related site might be a worthy consideration in terms of traffic alone, which brings me to my next point…
  • Alexa is good for a rough, relative traffic comparison between two or more sites. You could also dive a little deeper and use compete.com’s traffic sampling against Alexa’s if you were looking at a site that you didn’t own. For your own site you could use your own alaytics data as a reference and see how accurate Alexa really is.

Just like Google’s Page Rank, Alexa’s data should be taken with a grain of salt when being used as a measure of website traffic.


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Anonymous • 10 years ago

Alexa is a very important benchmark to determine the rankings and traffic of sites. Google is placed at the 2nd position as per Alexa rankings and www.alexa.com/data/details/main?url=www.fortunehotels.in traffic rankings and is facing tough competition from Live.com and of course Yahoo.
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E.Karnika Yashwant • 10 years ago

Ya that seems to be right. Then why does every where in the web we see that alexa rank is important for google. I know there are some spams in the web like forest fire spread. May be this the one of them. May be we need to escalate this issue deeper. I thanks the author for his help.

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Mary Ann Garson • 10 years ago

to get the most accurate results of Alexa , you simply just exclude your ip address via analytics from tracking your own visits when you have alexa toolbar installed, to make sure that all pageviews were from your visitors.
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