Thoughts on Alexa data

I saw my first Apostolos Gerasoulis commercial tonight, and it reminded me that I meant to check on Alexa’s traffic data for Ask. Then I threw my site in too. Here is what I saw:

Alexa traffic graph for Ask

I take two lessons from this graph: First, the TV advertising isn’t jolting Ask’s traffic. The biggest spike was when they dropped Jeeves at the end of February. TV advertising didn’t seem to benefit MSN much last year either.

Second, there is some serious webmaster skew in the Alexa data. There is no way that I have 1/4th the daily reach of Ask. I think my site gets a little boost because tons of SEOs install the Alexa toolbar.

147 Responses to Thoughts on Alexa data (Leave a comment)

  1. Dave (Original)

    I would believe in the tooth fairy before Alexa stats. I can’t believe they publish such utter garbage!

  2. Harith

    No serious SEO use Alexa for anything, trust me. Alexa figures doen’t represent the real world. And its easier to manipulate Alexa, compared to Google for example :D

    Having said that, still think Alexa is good as light reading during vacations ;)

  3. Tell us a story about Gigablast, Matt.

    Alexa is old.

  4. Brian

    Maybe the commercials are indeed working? :)

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=www.ask.com%2C+matt+cutts

    P.S. The communists have made their way to Columbus…

  5. Cons

    I gave up believing anything Alexa reports, when I saw my girlfriend’s website in the top 100 000.

  6. I think much of your Alexa boost is due to a nifty little Firefox plugin called SearchStatus, that displays Google PageRank and Alexa ratings in the bottom right corner of you Firefox window.

    http://www.quirk.biz/searchstatus/

    It gives a huge bias to sites popular among webmasters and SEOers, since many of us use it.

  7. It is my belief that alexa stats represent more technical/marketing oriented people and not the general public. hence the lack of impact of the commercials on the stats in alexa VS google trends as well as the fat the your site ranks nearly a 1/4th of ask’s traffic.

  8. Wonder what that spike is for your site? I wonder if it has anything to do with the number of indexed pages on sites who’s webmasters have the toolbar installed? :)

  9. I also find Alexa stats largely innacurate and somewhat useless for gathering info on site traffic, compared to tools such as Hitwise, the graphs that Alexa produces can be somewhat erratic.

    I usually prefer using Hitwise but even this offers no better insight into recent Ask traffic. Hitwise insists on using the URL http://www.askjeeves.com when graphing/reporting on ask, which just shows a massive slump in early feb (presumably when they stopped using http://www.askjeeves.com and started using ask.com.

    I recently saw some chart which showed ask.com’s share of downstream traffic from Google (ie; people visited ask.com straight after google.com) really increase over the last month or so and (at the time) assumed it was down to tv advertising – maybe it wasn’t?

    From a personal point of view, I know that if I don’t quite find what I’m looking for on Google (which is very rarely) I would previously have tried the same search on MSN or Yahoo! however just recently ask.com has become my prefered second choice. I don’t know whether this is TV advertising or just the general hype thats surrounding ask at the moment.

  10. panini

    great post, nice to see the weakness in alexa data illustrated so well. I believe it does have it’s uses though, if you understand these weaknesses (for example, showing little benefit from tv ads)… just like the much slated pagerank and the latest media favorite, google trends….

  11. I’m amazed at how easily Alexa stats are influenced. When I had access to IE with the toolbar, just a little bit of quick browsing for a few minutes could heavily influence low-popularity websites. The graphs are still interesting none-the-less, even if they don’t represent an accurate view of internet traffic. And it didn’t stop me from making my Alexa widget :)

    http://www.google.com/ig/directory?url=http://andrewhitchcock.org/gwidgets/alexa.xml

  12. yeah – I know that comparing my own sites that my sites that are read by webby types come up much higher than other topics even though the other topic’s get a lot more traffic.

  13. I was looking into Alexa rankings some time ago (between Sep 2004 and May 2005). They’re absolute crap IMHO!

    Just by using the Alexa IE toolbar, I managed to get a NON-EXISTENT website (i.e. a random domain which wasn’t even registered) to rank around 1,500,000. (It entered at around 3,000,000 and took 2 weeks to climb to 1,500,000.) That might not sound like much, but it’s a higher ranking than most people’s personal home pages and plenty of “serious” company websites!

    During the same period, my personal website jumped from a ranking of 1,800,000 to around 300,000 in just one month. After another two months, it was ranking at around 100,000! (Today it’s ranking around 480,725.)

    I’m not sure if it’s still so easy to sway their results, but I certainly can’t take them seriously after discovering all that!

    [Reposted from the Google Blogoscoped forum:
    http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/24539.html

  14. Yeah Alexa figures are way out, shouldn’t you figure out some cool way to use Google Trends ;)

  15. Alexa changed how they measure traffic in mid-April (that’s probably why you see a traffic jump there Matt). They seem to like sites with lots of repeat visitors now for whatever reason.

    Here’s a *really* funny Alexa chart… I get more traffic than ask.com. haha whatever.

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379&h=216&r=6m&z=&y=t&u=digitalpoint.com/&u=ask.com

  16. The problem is, Alexa is where marketing companies like adbrite look when pricing links on your site. Adtegrity and Valueclick use it as well, as a method of choosing whether or not to be accepted as a publisher. How do you get higher ratings on alexa?

  17. Shawn,

    DP get more traffic than ask.com without TV advertising? Plus-point! Wow! :)

  18. Alexa rank is good to impress suits.

  19. Alexa data is worthless, it’s been worthless for a long long while. How many “regular folks” do you know that have the Alexa toolbar installed? Let me answer, NONE.

    The only thing it measures is traffic from people in the business, website owners, webmasters, designers, markers, etc. Not even close to any kind of real traffic figures.

  20. I got a call yesterday of a consultant of a large german bluechip, who is doing a competition analysis, using alexa as well… i told him to stop it! The blur of data is already huge in your case, now think of the picture, german traffic gives! can not be!

  21. Matt,
    What do you think of the ads?

    I think they are missing the whole point of why Google is what it is.

    Paul

  22. With that kind of traffic Matt you should team up with Ask to form a super site – “AskMatt”. Instead of PR you could use MR (MattRank). However, I see some scaling issues unless you add a lot of Adam’s.

  23. Yeah, I wouldn’t trust alexa rank. Some of our internal applications protected by .htaccess here at work have an alexa rank..

    it is also possible to trick alexa.. things like reporting a visit to your site even if the user doesn’t have the toolbar installed.

    However, the alexadex.com game is very fun and addicting.

  24. Companies DO reference Alexa’s data and base online advertising dollars off of it. I’ve experienced more than a couple companies not advertise on my sites (not Oiskas.com) because they used Alexa data.

    One company didn’t care that my site ranked in the top 5 on Google for a specific search query they wanted to advertise on. They said my site’s traffic wasn’t high enough to meet their advertising guidelines based on Alexa data. OUCH!!!! It cost me several thousand dollars!

    As I stated above, this happened with several companies which DEPENDED on the Alexa data to base marketing decisions.

    Any suggestions Matt?

  25. Michael

    Hehe, not related at all but thought you might get a kick out of todays Dilbert Matt;

    http://www.dilbert.com/

  26. screw additional toolbars. i have 1 toolbar on firefox: Web Developer.

  27. I also have a question. Is there another website besides alexa.com that has a proper ranking system? Until this day, our company has based a lot fo analysis on the alexa-given data. Now it looks like it’s not reliable anymore. Are there any other websites to be recommended? On google we can see our rankings on certain keywords or keyphrases, but what about something “like” alexa?

    I convinced my boss Alexa is the best; now…are there other alternatives for alexa (on which I have to dwell as to study them in order to re-convince my boss about them)?
    10x

  28. Jarid

    I forget where I read this, but someone wise once said:
    “Alexa is like horoscopes… Kinda fun to look at, but completely useless.”

  29. I’ve heard on Webmasterworld (or somewhere) that Alexa toolbar is easily to fake. There are programs which automaticly “vote” as users of Alexa toolbar. Somebody mentioned few sites which obviously have faced Alexa rating.

    There are other sites like Alexa but all of them have the same problem with fakes. As I have heard – even more.

    Since Alexa toolbar is not common I would suggest to Google (Matt) to consider to publish their information collected from Google Toolbar about traffic. It would be very interesting.

  30. TV commercials don’t help websites? Well there’s something I haven’t been telling people for years…offline media can only act as supplementary traffic at best.

    Matt: in the case above, I’m not totally sure the Alexa data is biased in your favour. Yes, it’s true that you’ll end up with a higher Alexa rank because your site is based on a topic that is of interest to the webmaster community, However, Ask.com is also such a site since they are a search engine and therefore will receive at least some traffic from SEO-types who run the toolbar as well. So it may well be, if not totally accurate, reasonably close.

  31. My favourite skewed example of Alexa:

    My private testing IP address (which I don’t make public for obvious reasons) is in the top 600,000.

  32. TV advertising isn’t targeted at webmasters or SEOs so naturally Alexa data isn’t likely to relfect any traffic changes – how many regular users will actually use Alexa?

  33. Toolbar data is NOT reliable. It’s very easy to fake both a pagerank and an alexa rank, and to have yoursite signal alexa that it’s a legit “vote” every time somebody visits.

    Even if none of that were true, it still wouldn’t be reliable, as toolbars aren’t standard, and are implicitive of a certain subset of users: the tech savvy. Your typical 14 yr old myspace user doesn’t have toolbars installed. Neither does your 50 something year old retiree, so you’ll find that tech saavy websites rank a lot higher than non techincal websites in alexa.

    Example, one of my SEO related sites has an alexa rank of 150,086 … however I can guaransheed (go pistons) that it only gets about 15 unique visitors / day.. it’s right there in my stats log. It just so happens that all 15 or so of those visitors are SEOs, thus my ranking goes up.

  34. joe

    I had the office personal delete the alexa tool bar because it was causing sites to get indexed when they were still in the building phase. Even though the traffic is better than ever our alexa ranking was droping like a rock.

    Our owner asked us all to reinstall the dumb thing after the myspace big deal. he figured if they used the alexa ranking as a buying tool he might as well do the same thing even though he knows it is worthless, but who can define worthless when they paid millions based on the alexa ranking and page views.

  35. Matt,

    This is going to sound somewhat left-fieldish, but with the toolbar already in place, why not make your own version of what Alexa does? You’ve already got the user tracking mechanisms from AdSense/AdWords, the toolbar is right there…why not join them together?

  36. I have a webmaster site with a better Alexa ranking than another site of mine that gets 300x more traffic. Its just as you surmised, webmaster skew from more of us having it installed than the common man.

  37. You can use alexa to detect if companies use spam emails,. :)

    That´s when you see sudden bursts in traffic that fade away the next day or so.

  38. I stopped using Alexa data long ago. One of thier stats gave the game away! The second most visited section of our site was listed as the development server I use to proof pages before they go live. Only about 5 people in the world know the URL. And all those had Alexa loaded. If you’re still basing decisions on this stop now.

  39. It is of not any use except to impress the client with figures.

  40. CJK

    Alexa rank = Page Rank

    Both are generalized numbers based on a perfect world. Alexa samples and adjusts their data based on their own algo just like G credits toolbar PR..

    I use them both as a first glance at a sites overall “worthiness”. Alexa is great for trending overall traffic to a site. Key thing to remember is that the numbers are pro-rated based on the ratio of toolbars installed * the market segment popularity to get a “approximate” feeling for how many real surfers hit a site.

    I too had a brand new domain which I had password protected from launch and managed to bump its Alexa to ~160K just by using the toolbar while building/setting it up through the cms.

  41. CJK

    For Matt *NOT* Blog:

    The alexa traffic rank stats too are very easily spoofed by using client side scripting and passing the correct data back to them. Ethically its questionable; but its programmaticaly trivial to simulate the alexa toolbar is installed on every surfer who has js installed.

  42. Dave

    Hi matt,

    Please read my post at Search Engine Roundtable where I will debate with anyone who claims the effects from PPC advertising can be measured accurately. (They can not)

    http://forums.seroundtable.com/showthread.php?t=714

    As far as I can tell, quite a bit of the ROI results from PPC are what I would call a “False Positive” result where much more ROI is attributed to the ad than should be if any.

    Transparency of advertising effectiveness with Google is only wishful thinking at this time.

    I would love it if you or someone at Google could prove me wrong because I love search and believe search is effective. but the fact is that is that it simply can’t be proven. I don’t think you will be able to overcome the simple logic, and obvious facts of the matter.

    Search is no more accountable than any other form of media. You should not imply that it is.

  43. I suspect you may be correct about getting better Alexa rankings. But, I’ve looked at a lot of data and I can confirm that Ask.com is not competing very well.

  44. Why doesn’t Google become less “evil” and opens up their toolbar data. It must be possible to produce charts like Alexa with high accuracy from data collected with the Google toolbar.

    If that information was open publicly, then the whole Internet industry would have better benchmarking metrics. That would really help all of us to understand what is working and make less mistakes, therefore progress faster!

  45. Matt -

    Interesting observation and comment about both TV advertising and Alexa:

    1. TV Advertising – take a look at buy.com’s stats over the last year:

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=1y&size=medium&compare_sites=&y=r&url=buy.com#top

    After the launch of their TV and printed media (although that probably did not amount to anything significant) campaign, their traffic almost tripled – you can see their commercial at:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7447594710455835717&q=buy.com+commercial

    The difference being that buy.com sells commodity products (which everyone wants), compared themselves to Amazon (whom everyone knows) and were genuine (using their CEO as a spokes person and showing that they have a real premises) whereas Ask.com simply showed some new features that people don’t even know that they need.

    Clearly from the Alexa traffic stats (and buy.com’s FWP) TV advertising can work to drive traffic (and in their case, customers) – if appropriate to the audience.

    2. Alexa – in the history of X10.com, we employed a number of media buyers that made use of Alexa – and certainly, that offset the Alexa stats as Alexa would indicate that one of our intranet sites received a huge proportion of the traffic to the http://www.x10.com domain. The truth was that our media buyers made use of the intranet site and this was logged by their toolbar – whereas few of our visitors/customers had the Alexa toolbar installed – hence our media buyer’s traffic was highly significant in Alexa’s view.

    - Jim

  46. The spike in Ask traffic was from the Rebrand/Relaunch at SES in New York. This proves Matt’s theory: Alexa data is heavily skewed towards SEO/SEM types.

    it also proves that if you keynote the convension and spend enough cash sponsoring a memorable launch party, SEO/SEM types will spend a few minutes on your site.

  47. http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?q=http%3A%2F%2F192.168.0.1&url=192.168.0.1

    A 5-star site with no traffic. I hear it’s the must-see website of the summer.

    People who are interested in http://192.168.0.1 also bought:
    Panasonic TH-42PX60U 42″ Plasma HDTV by Panasonic

    Sony KDL40S2000 40″ Bravia Flat Panel LCD HDTV by Sony

    Samsung HP-S4253 42″ Plasma HDTV by Samsung

    So anyone who has visited a common internal IP likes big TVs. I KNEW it! I just KNEW it!

    And this is even funnier.

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/main?q=192.168.1.1&url=192.168.1.1

  48. Mark

    I agree, Google Trends is probably a better indicator at this point, and it does suggest that the ads are helping them in traffic. From experience, users often do search by domain names (don’t ask me why).

    http://www.google.com/trends?q=ask.com%2Cmsn.com%2Cyahoo.com%2C+google.com&ctab=0&geo=US&date=all

    google.com seem low here, but I’d attribute that to people being wiser enough not to search for google.com in google.com. :)

  49. Ok, we’re all going under …. Matt is using Alexa for his marketing research :-)

  50. ALEXA is not to be taken as measure of general traffic

    ALEXA is Great for comparing SEO sites against EACH OTHER

    and the added bonus is comparing Google TRENDS against ALEXA for domain name searches

    here are examples

    alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=max&size=medium&compare_sites=&y=r&url=mattcutts.com#top

    google.com/trends?q=matt+cutts&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all

  51. MarketLeap.com http://marketleap.com/ is great for various free SEM tools, my favorite is the keyword verification tool.

    I’ve also been using URLtrends.com http://www.urltrends.com/ for trend reports and visual graphs.

    I’m new by the way… first time posting, but (fairly) long time reader.

    Oh, and one final thought for alexa.com; when my web (analytic) stats showed my traffic increasing for one of my sites, my alexa ranking plummeted 3.5 million!!! Not very intuitive!

  52. lots0

    Alexa data is what it is… Surfing patterns of the people that have installed the Alexa tracking software.

    If for some reason, you want to know what sites the people that have installed the Alexa toolbar have been to, its great.

  53. I like Gigablast, JohnMu. :) Plus a guy named Matt runs it. (Matt Wells)

    Shawn, you beast! :)

  54. Paul

    Matt,

    Wow. It’s just so freaky. I just can’t imagine what it might be. Let me think a second…

    I don’t suppose the spike in traffic could have anything to do with the Big Daddy update erroneously wiping hundreds of thousands of websites off the face of the planet could it?

    It couldn’t be that loads of Webmaster’s have the Alexa Toolbar installed and that loads of them are visting your blog looking for some sign that Google give a damn and are trying to fix the problem?

    That was hard wasn’t it? You really are in cloud-cuckoo-land aren’t you.

  55. Dave (Original)

    RE: “I don’t suppose the spike in traffic could have anything to do with the Big Daddy update erroneously wiping hundreds of thousands of websites off the face of the planet could it?”

    In a word, NO! For each page that falls (or drops out) another takes it’s place. You statement would only hold true IF every Google searcher clicked on EVERY single link in the search results EVERY time they searched.

  56. Dave (Original)

    Oh, and each of those searchers would need the Alexa toolbar running.

  57. lots0

    >>>For each page that falls (or drops out) another takes it’s place.

    That is one of the most ridiculous far fetched statements about search engines I have ever read.

    Don’t know much about search engines do you Dave?

  58. About time someone said the truth about Alexa!

    Thanks

  59. Randy Charles Morin, but I just heard Apostolos’ son Eli tell me on national TV that Google isn’t better. That’s what got me looking. :)

    Paul, actually Shawn’s data graph seems to support that Alexa recalibrated stuff.

  60. Dave (Original)

    Lots0, look at the SERPs of Google and will ALWAYS see 10 pages on page 1 to page n

    If you have PROOF to the contary, please show me :)

    RE: “That is one of the most ridiculous far fetched statements about search engines I have ever read.”

    LOL! You should read your own statements then, 1 for example.

    LOTSO SAID:

    “The only interesting thing I have seen in the guidelines in years and years is the fact that google has finally admited that a link FROM a ‘bad’ neighborhood can hurt your rankings.”

    Care to point out where exactly you read this???

    BTW, I did ask you this 3 times in the post you stated this but I guess you have trouble with reading don’t you :)

  61. Dave (Original)

    Oh, and you might just want to read the statement below from Matt :)

    “It’s funny, because most people understand that on a SERP there are 10 results, and if one webmaster is unhappy because they dropped out of the top 10, then some other webmaster is happy that they have joined the top 10″

    You crack me up Lots0 :)

  62. That is one of the most ridiculous far fetched statements about search engines I have ever read.

    Don’t know much about search engines do you Dave?

    Actually, while I do find his posts a tad syncophantic at time, he’s mathematically correct. In order for a page to drop out of the top 10 in a SERP with greater than 10 results (i.e. the first page), something else has to take its place.

    That’s not ridiculous at all. It’s simple math.

    The problem is that a guy like Matt will almost never hear a good word from someone who made the top 10…he’ll only hear bitching from those who dropped out and think their sites are the second coming of Jesus.

    If I were Matt, and I had to put up with 1/10th of the bullshit he does (and I’m sorry, but that’s the best possible word to describe it), I’d have gouged my own eyes out with a dull, rusty razor blade by now.

    Seriously, Matt, how do you deal with it without ending up on top of the TransAmerica building with a sniper rifle yelling “SPAMMER!” *pow pow* “BLACKHAT!” *bang bang* “LINK FARM THIS YOU SONOFABITCH!” *bang*

    You know, when I look at that last paragraph, that’s a cool mini-series idea.

    Matt Cutts…is…SPAMHUNTER, with Tommy Chong as his loyal sidekick (dude’s gonna need work now that That 70′s Show’s last episode is going on the air tomorrow).

    Matt: “This Viagra site is keyword stuffing. Let’s do this.”
    Tommy: “Okay, man, but bring some of the drugs back and we can party!”

    If you do this, I get unit production manager credits.

  63. Oh yeah, and I get a cut of the royalties too. When that bad boy goes into syndication and season DVD sales, Imma be one rich bastige livin’ large and in charge in Margaritaville!

  64. When trying to install alexa toolbaar I get promted by our anti-virus. IE also seem to be highly aposed to the instalation of the toolbar. The result is that the average Joe will probnably not install it. It is only people with a bit of techie knowledge that will persue it further. So at the end of the day, Alexa’s road is getting tougher and tougher to deliver reliable results, not to mention the software you can use to spike your Alexa stats.

    The truth is however that Alexa are being used by many companies out there to determine if advertising on certain sites are worthwhile. My opinion is if you keep in mind the factors that can influence Alexa’s stats, you can use some of it’s information. Especialy with industry specific comparisons.

  65. Paul

    Dave (Original)

    I think you misunderstood the majority of the words in my comment. If not the words, then the sentences. If not the sentences, then their meaning.

    In short: What the heck are you talking about?

  66. Paul

    Matt (and Chronies),

    What do you have to say about:

    http://www.webworkshop.net/google-madness.html

    Seems like a nice summary of what I and a few others have been trying to tell you for several weeks now. Do you have an answer to all of those who say that Google’s latest de-indexing strategy is just plain wrong: wrong for Google’s users, wrong for online services, wrong for the future of the Web, and, most importantly, wrong for Google?

  67. lots0

    Matt said;
    >>>Paul, actually Shawn’s data graph seems to support that Alexa recalibrated stuff.

    You think so Matt? Got some inside info? ;)

    If that were the case, it would explain why most sites I have checked on Alexa seem to have received a jump around the middle of April. Of course, I don’t check a LOT of sites with Alexa, for me it would be a waste of time, I have no need to know what sites people with the Alexa tracking software are going, I don’t market to webmasters or SEOs.

    As far as the un indexing of URLs in google goes.
    I don’t think Matt will comment on that here, at least for a while. Although, it would be real cool if he did… hint hint

    **

    For those not educated about the search engines amongst us…

    (SEO 101) Being dropped from the index is NOT the same thing as dropping out of the top 10 SERP.

    When a URL is dropped from the index it can no longer be found in google.

    When a URL is bumped off the top ten in the SERP, it can still be found in google, just not on page one default.

    I despise explaining very basic SEO… to those that should already know this stuff before posting in Search Engine Engineer’s blog.

  68. Google has the data to do an accurate version of Alexa, right?

    A great 20% project.

  69. Reg

    >As far as the un indexing of URLs in google goes.
    >I don’t think Matt will comment on that here, at least for a while. >Although, it would be real cool if he did… hint hint

    Matt commented on this a couple of days ago. To summarise, Matt seemed to be satisfied that there was not a problem. Every effected site he looked at, could be explained (he said) by insuifficient inbound links or innapropriate in or outbound links.

    Matt did not comment on how he went about identifying the number and quality of each site’s inbound links. If he used Google, then he would not have been able to notice the bug that many of us have long suspected they have. He would have had to look on Yahoo or MSN to see the “real” state of each site’s inbound links, and compare it to Google’s faulty version.

    Even if there isn’t a bug (which I strongly suspect there is), is it right to erase so many sites, simply because they haven’t dedicated most of their to the pursuit of so-called “natural” links? Rank them low if you like, but to delete them from your index is both evil and dumb.

  70. We find that Alexa does not represent actual site traffic well, although it is nice for rough comparisons. Nor do we see ASK bringing a lot of traffic, indeed an signficant traffic increase, to the many sites we manage. I do think that Google Analytics gives you a much better way to create an Alexa-type site, although data privacy might be an issue.

  71. lots0

    >>>Matt (and Chronies)

    Matt has Chronies…. Oh No… That sounds bad, real bad, maybe you can get the Doctor to give you a salve to get rid those… :)

  72. I think if google done something like this it would be much better. The alexa data is far too easy to manipulate, all you would have to do is say have 50 sales reps with laptops on the road, all whom had an alexa toolbar installed.
    If they were accessing the internet every day, then that’d be an additional reach per million of at least 50.
    I think there should be a couple of things google need to bring out
    1. An overture style search facility where you can see what is being searched upon.
    2. An alexa style traffic ranking system, which is no-way as easy to manipulate as the current version from Alexa.
    3. Add these items to the toolbar.

    Anyone agree?

  73. Alexa lies… ;)

    I got some data from them about my site, and I go under rank 100º sometimes, but I don’t know why… my own logs & statistics don’t show nothing special in this alexa-peaks …

  74. All this traffic ranking debate is making me stressed – I sure could use a guinness stress ball; http://www.stressballsuk.com/food.htm, or better yet the real thing!

    But I do agree with Stress Balls, we do need a reliable and viable traffic ranking system online to know where we stand against competitors.

  75. I agree with comments, that people having Alexa FireFox, plug-in affect Alexa ranking a lot. As it notify Alexa each time you visit the site. Hence introducing an error for low volume sites.But I think that is true with any sampling algorithm. Even Google Trend may not be good for low volume key words.
    I have seen one of my site getting 300k position in a week, of course it was used by other users. As it is source code browsing website for xoops, xoops.info. Later when I uninstalled the plugin value went down.

  76. “I take two lessons from this graph: First, the TV advertising isn’t jolting Ask’s traffic. The biggest spike was when they dropped Jeeves at the end of February. TV advertising didn’t seem to benefit MSN much last year either.”

    Yes Matt, we all know TV advertising doesn’t help as much as being the default search service in all AOL browsers.

    Nevertheless, those ASK TV ads have introduced another competitor in the race against Google. That’s just the start.

    Also, the Vista launch is only months from happening. It’s nice to know that finally all those AOL browsers with Google as the default search service will get some nice competition.

  77. Dave (Original)

    RE: “That’s not ridiculous at all. It’s simple math.”

    Yeah, It looks like Lots0 has problems with math and well as reading. Just for you Lotso :) What I said was

    “>>For each page that falls (or drops out) another takes it’s place”

    Now, unless the page that drops out is the very LAST page for that search term, ALL the others move up.

    How about having a go at explaining your other funny statement, that is;

    “The only interesting thing I have seen in the guidelines in years and years is the fact that google has finally admited that a link FROM a ‘bad’ neighborhood can hurt your rankings.”

    Oh Lots0, you brighten my day each and every day. Whatever you do, don’t stop posting :)

  78. Paul

    [quote]RE: “I don’t suppose the spike in traffic could have anything to do with the Big Daddy update erroneously wiping hundreds of thousands of websites off the face of the planet could it?”

    In a word, NO! For each page that falls (or drops out) another takes it’s place. You statement would only hold true IF every Google searcher clicked on EVERY single link in the search results EVERY time they searched.[/quote]

    I repeat. What the heck are you talking about Dave O? You know we’re talking about traffic to mattcutts.com right?

  79. I still wanna see this guy’s supergreat search engine he’s mentioned before. Come on, lots0, bring it out.

  80. lots0

    Dave when/if you ever get a point (any point), I am going to go off the wagon after 23 years and have a Scotch…

  81. lots0

    >>> Reg said:
    Matt commented on this a couple of days ago.

    Do you have a url, I did not see where Matt talked about this.

  82. stop me before I kill a moron

    Come on Matt, Please stop this high school crap.

  83. Dave (Original)

    Oh come on Lots0, please don’t take you bat and ball and go home.

    Speaking of URL’s, do you have one for your statement that Google “admits a link from a ‘bad neighborhood’ can harm your site”?

    Oh and your super duper ultra secret search engine URL would be nice too.

    Ok enough fun. I wont post anymore to this thread Matt. Thanks for your patience.

  84. lots0

    Dave you’re an idiot babbling.

    I am tired of you wasting my time.

    Can’t hold a decent discussion without your moronic off topic ranting about things that are obviously over your head.

    Matt please please delete this and any or all of my posts in this thread. I’ve had it with being attacked and flamed by some jerk every other post.

  85. lots0

    I should not do this, but I am going too, I know I’ll regret it, but I just can’t help myself. ;)

    Dave you really are a dumbass, I was being sarcastic when I spoke about the google guidelines, too bad your too thick to “get it”… most everyone else did. I was going to let it go on, but you just would not back off and it stopped being funny.

    As far as my search engine, if you had any knowledge in of the field you are so willing to tell everyone your opinion about (SEO), you could figure out which one it is in a matter of seconds, here I’ll even give you hint it is a nitch search engine that deals with gambling. Like I said before not a site that would be appropriate to list here.

    Why don’t you list your sites here, I would love to take a close look at them…. :)

    Now why don’t you shut up and let the grown ups have some pleasant discussion.

  86. lots0

    Awww come on Matt, at least publish my last post… Before you bann me.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me post as long as you did, it was fun while it lasted.

  87. Glad that’s over – Smelled like Teen Spirit in here.

    Anyway, back on topic… For those of us who *have* lost advertising revenues to moronic advertising execs who rely on such a miserable and pathetic excuse for a ranking system, what can we do?

    My site gets nearly 10X the traffic (uniques) than my main “competition”, yet, they’re ranked more than 100K slots HIGHER than us in Alexa.

    So, what the heck – Let’s see some strategies for “screwing the screwer”, so to speak…. With our resources, shouldn’t be hard to do.

    Gotta have SOMETHING to keep me busy while Google systematically dismantles all I’ve built because it can’t index anything it perceives as “supplemental”… :(

  88. I think its the one of the most if not the most accutate tool on the web offering a service like this.

  89. One of our clients actually used Alexa data to judge how successful her marketing campaign was.

    She called and complianed that her Alexa stats were down. I asked how sales were going and those had doubled. Dumbfounded I then asked what was more important. The obvious answer was sales and the lightbulb went off for her and she no longer looks at Alexa stats.

    But, gosh, they are fun to look at.

  90. They definitely re-calibrated in mid-April in that they give more weight to sites with repeat visitors with lots of page views.

    There is a thread about it here:
    http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=78305

    But a quick example… take 5 sites from the same general industry… 3 being forums:

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=405&h=280&r=3m&u=digitalpoint.com&u=webmasterworld.com&u=wordtracker.com&u=seochat.com&u=sitesell.com

    The 3 forums (repeat visitors with tons of page views) had a huge boost. digitalpoint.com seemed to get a higher boost than the other 2 forums. I’m guessing because our webmaster tools (keyword tracker and keyword suggestion tool especially) see forum-like traffic patterns as well (tons of page views, but mostly repeat visitors).

  91. I never trusted Alexa data. It’s very skewed and it depends on people installing Alexa toolbar. Be better off installed clicktracks, etc. individual programsfor your own websiter and check the ranking for other sites for evaluation.

  92. Alexa is good when it comes to other detailed info, like age of the site or contactperson, thumbnail pictures.

    Don’t use it for your rankings.. perhaps the first 1000 – 2000 are for real.
    If you let all your friends install the alexa toolbar you get from 5000000 to 150000 in little time. There are also several little scripts to boost your traffic rank.

    Like in normal life.. take a look at all of them and pick up what you can use.

  93. Those stats are just to iffy for my taste. I would not rely on them.

  94. Alexa should never be used as a tool nor guide, it’s just a plot to make one more domain name have a use and stick advertising all over it. IMO.

  95. The alexa data is a joke. I have seen the Alexa data manipulated by using multiple dial-ups and then changing the Alexa keys every few days. If someone has a site and they want to use Alexa to sell something it’s easy to trick. Personally, I would rather work really hard at building a good site first and not worry about these little tricks, but loads of folks do it.

  96. Yeah, I personally don’t worry too much about it. I like to have a lower ranking so it makes my site appear better, but it’s not critical to my operations or anything. I don’t use those scripts or anything, I just installed the toolbar so it will boost all the sites I visit a little bit. It’s a pretty worthless ranking system though.

  97. That’s old thing… I never believe in what Alexa Ranking displays. Alexa toolbar is not used by the good sample of Internet users population. I only need to visit my website for a few times and I am awarded with quite good Alexa ranking… that’s ridiculous. However, the pity is that I can’t think of any better method of estimating the website traffic of someone else’s website…

  98. Alexa is THE stats in China. Anyone doing deal with China sites will tell you that the stats they show is Alexa.
    Talk to them and be amazed. They will claim that is is a independent third party audit.

    I often wonder in disbelieve how Alexa could get such a clout in China.

  99. I never acutely knew about alexia ranks being falsified, that’s quite bad. How does it affect your ranking in google? I never really learnt to much about it.

  100. mac

    Google Alexa Ranking Falls How?

  101. Just to throw my $.02 in, Alexa rank is being used to sell links as much as page rank is being used for that purpose. There is a large market on E-Bay, link adage and such, and I know the purists sniff at it. It is an efficient market nonetheless, whether we like it or not. Are people getting conned by Alexa rankings? Absolutely. One of my “prospective” clients(who I refused to work with, by the way) and who will go nameless, wanted us to help him manipulate his Alexa ranks. He told me that he needed it to raise capital for expansion and also that he could charge a higher rate for his ad’s based on Alexa ranks. Really sad how these numbers are being misused. Google PR is no better by the way. There are these companies that are buying links to get a high PR. They are then propagating PR to numerous sites and selling them off. It’s an arbitrage–not quite what the Page and Brin had in mind with their backrub algo.

  102. Matt,

    It’s also interesting to note that your spike in mid-May is almost exactly the same time you wrote a post titles, “Thoughts on Alexa Data,” http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/thoughts-on-alexa-data/ — everyone must have scurried to Alexa to view your rankings which must may have contributed to that spike. Also interesting and kind of cool to note that people who visit your blog, supposedly visit CelebPoker.com — you play? Are you considered a celeb.? W-rated celeb. for Web? ;)

  103. I have few sites which show a steady increase of traffic of about 80%. However when I check the alexa ratings, they are either not changed or dropping considerably. I guess Alexa collects data from computers which has Alexa toolbar installed and hence such anamolies are possible – expecially if the viewers are not from English speaking countries.

  104. I have stopped trusting Alexa ranking. What is the use of ranking which can be easily manipulated by the so called Alexa ranking boosters ? Alexa should think of some different technique to gather the popularity of a website other than its toolbar.

  105. I think alexe ranking is not absolute value. So i dont think important for advertisement. May be users dont use alexa toolbar which have viseted my web site.

  106. People use Alexa because it’s free and available. Webmasters need a way to see their site’s rankings vs. another site, and Alexa does that (warts and all).

    Give webmasters some good alternatives that won’t cost them – and they’ll flock to it. Google Sitemaps, Analytics, etc. are fine (and free to those who wnat them) but they don’t help you see how your site is doing relative to another site.

    Google toolbar gives a very rough view (PageRank) but that’s nearly useless as a day-to-day or weekly/montly comparison tool.

  107. I think that readers of this thread might be interested in this project: AlexaSucks.com. Also, at the time of this posting your Alexa score is 1,304…Congrats!

  108. I do find alexa useful for identifing sites that have low levels of traffic or have only a weak presence on the internet.

    I so often speak to customers who claim to have sites that are far more established than they really are.

    Its easy to fake good results on Alexa – but why would you fake bad ones?

    Adrian

  109. You are absolutely right. It’s a very skewed date depending on who installed the toolbar.

  110. Alexa should lay out all the facts before they consider their data is reliable.

  111. ROB

    As my server logs show an increase in traffic, my Alexa rank goes down. I attribute this to an increase in real customers and a decrease in idiots with the Alexa toolbar installed. And sales are way up; thx Alexa!

  112. While Alexa cannot be considered an accurate method (because of Alexa Toolbar, and nowadays websites can install “show alexa ranking” which will probably affect on it to some extend.

    But even then it can provide some *rough estimations*. Sites with rank near 1,000 compared to sites with rank 50,000 or 100,000 quite likely have difference in traffic as well.

    Bottom line: I agree with what you said, but Alexa can be used as a “rough guideline” with some other tools.

  113. I like alexa because it constantly changes huge #s for me. Like last week i was 800k and now i’m 700k :D It gives me motivation to improve.

  114. I think webmasters are addicted to Alexa stats much like they are addicted to Google’s PR.

  115. If the only requirement is to install a toolbar, then why not. Just in case! :)

  116. Dan

    Great. Ten thousand people telling me to not use Alexa. Fine, WHAT TO USE then? Alexa stats might suck, but what else do we have?

  117. I agree that Alexa is waaay to inconsistent and subject to tampering, but there isn’t much out there to easily compare site traffic.

    Google PageRank in the toolbar gives a good general idea of how popular a site is links-wise, but again, that’s just a general idea.

    I just wish there was a consolidated (and accurate) tool that measured both traffic and link popularity. Or maybe that’s what search engine results are…or should be.

  118. We have released AlexaAutoSurf.com – an auto-surf site that only allows users with the Alexa toolbar to join/surf. Take a look at it, most of the sites in the network have already jumped from 7-8 million all the way close to 100,000. It’s a great way to receive thousands of hits daily and you’ll see the results on Alexa!

  119. Are there alternatives to Alexa? Also, is there a way (perhaps a firefox extension) that allows your to see the site’s alexa but not report your surfing habits to Alexa?

    BTW: How accurate is Alexa? Can’t you use like 1000 bots/agents to inflates a sites ranking quite easily?

  120. Alexa has long been a bug-bear of mine.

    The stats seem to be incredibly subjective, but everyone treats them as though they are gospel. I run on of the leading Forums on IDN at [url]dnlocal.com[/url] and of course we are interested in this kind of data for a number of reasons.

    The experience to date shows that any site that is skewed towards Web Techies and particulary the US will have high Alexa scores, whereas other sites just seem to fall off the Radar.

    Much depends on installs the Alexa Toolbar. I could immediately boost our site ranking by installing it myself, but frankly I have enough problems with Spyware without installing more.

    From an International perspective it is difficult to understand how they cobble stats together. Unlike Google there is not an Alexa site for each country or language. Whilst they report by country, they do not actually reach out to any of these countries. It would seem to maintain any kind of credibility they must do some kind of balancing out, but my guess is that most of their traffic in foreign countries actually comes from expatriate Americans. How can you reasonably factor that to be representative of the browsing habits of the general populations in those countries, unless your country of origin is Cloud Cuckoo Land?

  121. Alexa data are so complicated to normal people. Like Google PR is simplified we just need simplefied of Alexa. I used Alexa toolbar and I was not satisfied.

  122. I don’t belive at all to statistics data I install 3 web monitoring and also put on sedo. And all statistics show another data. Alexa is showing another data.

  123. SEO marketers can’t trust to data from third party. In our business we install on server our webmonitoring and we see data before and after our monitoring.

  124. Yes it is true it hard to get more relevant data!

  125. One must remember that Alexa ranking is just between you and the rest of Alexa’s users and that’s it.

    There are 101 websites out there that doesn’t use Alexa. Most company websites don’t use it, it doesn’t make sense to have company website to have an Alexa widget hanging around somewhere.

  126. Goldfries: maybe I am wrong but I always thought that Alexa Ranking is based on the results of Alexa Toolbar rather than on some widget hanging on the website. Am I wrong?

  127. We started to use Google analytics to get relevant data.

  128. I believe they use some random data generator to create this reports ;-)

  129. My website’s traffic has gone up dramatically in the last month or two, according to Google Analytics (from ~25K visits/month to ~40K, with similar increase in unique visits and consistent pageviews/visit). Over the same timespan my Alexa rank has been dropping, and Alexa competitor compete.com also shows my traffic declining. My site’s focus, for now at least, is mainly in the NY/NJ area. I suspect there may be regional biases – i.e greater use of the toolbars in CA and other tech centers.

  130. Do you knoow any page where can I check GPR and ALEXA for all my subpages?

  131. I recently saw one of my legacy sites (from 1996) drop in the Alexa rankings. Last few years it was around 18,000, then plummeted this past year down into the 300,000+ range. The site averages well over 350,000 *uniques* per month, mostly from Google search of our evergreen content. As mentioned throughout the above comments, advertisers and investors both ask about Alexa rankings as if they are somehow “official”. I never paid attention until this past year, when our rankings dropped and advertisers squawked. I finally installed the Firefox Alexa extension on my browser and watched my Alexa ranking climb up to 150,000 or so within a week. I asked my partner to install it and now we’re in the 90,000 range.

    Geesh! I guess I’ll ask my family to start using the damn thing…

  132. Better is to use more than one statistics, then just only Alexa, but even thought its hard to get accurate data.

  133. MNS

    Isn’t a page handicap, if it isn´t visit more from dbrowsers with Alexa toolbar?

  134. It is sad that large amount of people, base Alexa traffic stats for their business marketing. Alexa doesn’t even support Vista users and with the big push that computer manufacturers are making for Vista for Business, that really hurts a lot of us.

    Alexa, I rather believe in the tooth fairy.

  135. Everyone knows Alexa data is far away from accuracy since they depend fully on the sample space of internet users who have the alexa toolbar installed or any firefox plugin like SearchStatus. My alexa rank shot up from 1,373,556 to an awesome 261,641 in just a month and half after installing SearchStatus plugin on my firefox.

    However inaccurate, many people are using their alexa rank for pricing advertisements… at least I know someone who was utterly disturbed because AdBrite wanted to remove advertisements from his site because his alexa rank dropped. Not sure if this should be believed.

    I have put both SiteMeter and Google Analytics on my website. The stats given by Analytics and SiteMeter are grossly different… looks like a jungle of stats, counters, analytics… and so on. Is there anything that is truely reliable?

  136. I don’t think that anybody really trusts Alexa stats. We use google analytics, and other 7 stats just to give us an indication of what is going on, not to rely on statistics.
    Anyway the sales are important, not stats.

  137. I help manage a government website http://www.govbenefits.gov – we’ve seen our site traffic decline over the past two years which is consistent with the “Reach” data I see on Alexa, I’m wondering from the group if there is any sense if the “reach” data is at all accurate. Since we don’t advertise ranking is not so important. My fundamental research question is, over the past five years has there been a decline in site traffic to .gov domains? I’m having trouble find a reliable source of data to answer that question. When I put in four or five other large .gov domains like epa.gov, hhs.gov, and ssa.gov it would appear that there has been a decline in reach. Any help is greatly appreciated.

  138. How important is Alexa?
    In Germany, Alexa is not so well known,
    How important do you think the Alexa rank really?
    Greetings from Germany
    Werner

  139. I really do not believe in Alexa stats but there are many who do. From my experience, it still seems that many consider it when purchasing a product or service from a website.
    I have a large amount of my visitors which use Vista and there isn’t a Alexa toolbar doesn’t support Vista. So, my Alexa stats are not accurate at all and does have an impact on directory submissions for Madmouse.

    As long as people believe in the tooth fairy, people will still believe in Alexa..

  140. Tuke

    When it comes to alexa you have to be careful not to just take the numbers as is just like with any other statistic.

    First anything that has a rank number of 100K or higher (as in 200K not 10K) is about as accurate as blind person taking a shot after being spun around a few times.

    Now as for the ones between 1 and -100K? you have to compare LIKE sites to get any meaning thus comparing ask.com with mattcutts.com on alexa is about as useful as comparing a freeway to a country. This is for the obvious reasons of skewness which many users here have pointed out already. Finally if the numbers on the sites you are comparing feel wrong then maybe it is because one of them is using techniques to ramp up their ranking, thus any ranking on site you suspect is doing that is meaningless and you should ignore it.

    As for the government (.gov) sites having a declining reach, think of it this way. All the time more users are coming online in the world. Most of those new users today are not in US as the penetration of internet in US is relatively high compared to the rest of the world. The users who use the internet from those other countries are not generally speaking as interested in any information on us government sites as US citizens, thus the more of the world comes online the less the reach of the .gov sites should be.

    I am a technical person and I do give alexa ranking some value as it gives me an easy way to see how my competition is doing compared to me, but I always apply the principals above before just going “oh my gowd this site is…” fill whatever you want.

  141. I agree with the comment above about the plugin in Firefox. Alexa is useful
    for the quick graphical indication on the browser. Other than that I also
    find that their data is out of date and often off by orders of magnitude.
    OK tool, but not as good as it could be.

  142. Both Alexis Ranking and Google page rank are entirely worthless. The only value either has is when ignorant people pay someone as a result of either. The only person who wins is the person who is selling the illusion. The only thing Google uses page rank for is to ding bad websites with a PR of 0. Our page rank has gone up and down from 2 to 7 and back to 3, yet our sales has continued to rise and our search engine placement has never changed by more than 1 or 2 placements for our important keywords. We have seem other sites rise up in Google quickly and then months later just disappear, as Google constantly gets smarter to the tricks.

  143. Until I got my own domain this month I had never heard of Alexa. Now I have the tool bar and the button on my site but before that I didn’t have a clue. I feel like the numbers don’t give a full representation but they seem to be important if you want to advertise so we have to do it their way. There’s also a bit of satisfaction when moving up the rankings! I’m still unrated, not sure how long it takes.
    Jade

  144. Alexa data is at best good for visualizing the broad-range traffic pattern on a website. Its traffic volume is totally unreliable.

  145. Hi..good article here..indeed Alexa is not showing a 100% real data but i think is doing a good job,ranking our stuff on the web market.
    This is just my opinion.

  146. Alexa data is not accurate because many people, who are a webmaster, installed alexa toolbar. They are interested in your SEO website that caused your Alexa traffic rank increased hugely.

  147. I actually thought Alexa had some value. Shows how little I know of seo.

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