We all love to compare and measure the success of our websites; there’s something addictive about checking to see how your website is doing versus your competitors. Your Alexa ranking is one way to achieve that.
Alexa (owned by Amazon) is an analytics company that provides free and paid tools for webmasters, including keyword research, competitive analysis, and site audits. One of their free resources is the Alexa Traffic Rankings, which rank websites according to their authority.
Alexa compares a website’s popularity over the last three months with other websites, using that data to assign it a ranking. In the rankings, a lower number is better, with rank #1 being the top sport. Low-traffic websites often rank in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
The current top five are Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu, and Wikipedia.
How Is Alexa Rank Calculated?
Alexa can’t see every visit your site gets. Instead, it takes a sample of traffic from internet users with specific browser extensions (including the Alexa toolbar). Originally these were only individuals with the Alexa toolbar, but Alexa now partners with other tools to receive data from their users. By getting traffic from other sources, Alexa can increase the accuracy of its results.
When these users installed these tools, they agree to have their browsing tracked. The tools then forward this data to Alexa where it uses it to calculate its rankings.
First, however, the information is put through an algorithm. This is an important step because the demographics of the sample of users who download these extensions may not exactly match the demographics of all internet users.
For example, if the proportion of Chinese users tracked were relatively small, the raw results would suggest that some key Chinese sites don’t get much traffic: this would be wrong. The data must be weighted and modified so that it is a fair representation of overall internet traffic, and to ensure websites don’t get overlooked because of sample bias.
Once the data has been normalized, Alexa calculates at the rankings. This is done by looking at the Reach (number of users using the site in a day) and Page Views (number of pages the average visitor sees in the day). The ranking is based on the last three months of data and is updated regularly (typically daily for sites ranked above #100,000).
Can You Improve The Accuracy of Your Alexa Rank?
One of the main criticisms people have about the Alexa Rank is that because its based on a small sample of internet users, the rankings and traffic estimates aren’t always accurate. This is particularly the case for websites ranked below #100,000; higher traffic websites tend to be more accurate.
Alexa does offer a premium service called Certified Alexa Ranking, which enables websites to install code on their website which will check all the traffic they receive is counted. However, this comes with a monthly fee (starting at $19.99 per month).
How Can You See Your Alexa Rank?
Easy! Go to Alexa.com/siteinfo and type your website (or any other website you like) into the search box. You will see result pages showing your Alexa traffic rank (global and local), a graph of changes in rank over time, and a map showing where your main audiences are.
Further down you may see data on bounce rate, daily page views per visitors, and daily time on site, as well as information on what other sites are linking to your website. Some of this information is hidden for some sites unless you sign up for a Premium plan with Alexa.
Why Should You Care About Your Alexa Rank?
There are three reasons why you might care about your Alexa rank and want to improve it:
1. Correlation with Search Engine Rankings
An improved Alexa ranking correlates with improved rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs), which means taking steps to improve your Alexa rank can improve your Google rank as well. Having said that, Google’s algorithm is unknown, and it is impossible to know for certain either way.
Some advertisers still look at a site’s Alexa ranking to estimate site quality, authority, and traffic. This is less common than it was a few years ago (Google Analytics is king for traffic data now) but it still happens.
3. Personal Interest
Let’s face it, we all want to be #1. Ensuring your Alexa rank is above that of your competition is a satisfying experience.
How Can I Improve My Alexa Rank?
Your Alexa Rank is a measure of the authority of your site based on the number of page views it gets. The best way to get your Alexa Rank higher is to increase your traffic!
Methods of doing this include:
1. Create high-quality content
Google loves high-quality, original content. The more and better content you have the more traffic you’ll get from search engines, which will boost your Alexa rank.
2. Search engine optimization
On-page optimization helps search engines to find and rank your sites for appropriate keywords.
Links from other authoritative sites builds your authority, which increases the chances of Google sending you more traffic.