Alexa Traffic - what is the Alexa rank and Alexa Toolbar?
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Alexa Traffic - what is the Alexa rank and Alexa Toolbar?

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Alexa, well known by website developers and search engine optimisers, is a California based subsidiary of the giant Amazon Corporation - the USA's largest online retailer.

They provide a toolbar for your web browser which collects information on browsing behaviour, which is then added to a database in their website and analysed. This information is then used to create traffic reports and ranking figures for websites around the world. Please note that the Alexa Toolbar is considered malware by Microsoft, and in fact cannot be installed on Windows Vista.

Alexa Traffic The Alexa Traffic Rank should not to be confused with Google PageRank, which provides an indication of the number of sites (and their importance) that link back to your site.

The Alexa ranking can give a comparative guide to the amount of traffic a website receives, the visitors' countries of origin, traffic ranks for individual countries, and other useful information.

However, this is where it gets tricky. For example, from January to June 2009 justweb™ received 94,005 unique visitors. At the time the 1/2 year report was created, justweb™'s Alexa traffic rank was (approximately) 209,000, with the top four contributing countries being India (34% of all traffic) Australia (31% of all traffic), Pakistan (9% of all traffic) and the United States (8% of all traffic).

If you check the justweb 2009 interim traffic report, you will see that the top five countries were:

Total unique visitors: 94,005

1. Australia 63,817
2. United States 10,474
3. India 2,894
4. United Kingdom 2,346
5. Canada 2,043

From this accurate Internet traffic report, we can see that India only provided a little over 3% of total traffic (not 34%), and Australia provided just under 68% of traffic (not 31%).

In the report, Pakistan sits at #14, with only 353 visitors - less than 0.4% of the total visits - not almost 10% as stated in the Alexa report.

SEO Enquiry This doesn't tell us that the Alexa traffic report is intrinsically wrong - but what it does tell us is that many more visitors from India and Pakistan have installed the Alexa toolbar. In fact, most Australians have probably never heard of Alexa. So even though less than 3,000 visitors came from India, the majority of those visitors would have the Alexa toolbar installed.

In fact, the only figure that comes close to being accurate is the result for the USA, probably because of the popularity of the Alexa Toolbar in that country.

Again, as an indicative statistic, the Alexa rank is very useful - but don't rely TOO heavily on it for accurate results. The only way the figures it provides would be truly accurate is if EVERYONE installed the Alexa toolbar. For example, at the time of writing, some Alexa ranks are:

justweb.com.au: 206,860
bhp.com.au: 7,107,722
news.com.au: 430
adobe.com: 58
blackmaxmedia.com.au: 993,145
whitepages.com.au: 7,253

So we can see from the above that it is LIKELY whitepages.com.au and news.com.au receives many more visitors than justweb™, but justweb™ receives many more visitors than bhp.com.au.

Alexa can also be a good indication of a sudden drop (or rise) in traffic to a website. For example, a potential client called last week after their website was re-designed several months ago. They were worried about the search engine optimisation. Rightly so - I could immediately tell (through Alexa) that their traffic had dropped over 80% in the space of three months. They confirmed that indeed their business had dropped, and that their visitors had dwindled.

So, be warned: if you are thinking about a re-design of your website, make sure the developer you choose understands how NOT to have a negative impact on your current search engine results (SERPs).

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Rob - JustWeb

11.07.2009


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