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The current page rank on my home page is 6, but most of my traffic is distributed among ~500 pages which are typically 3's and 4's, a few 5's. Average unique visitors per day for January was ~5,100. The Alexa rank today is 68,818 and my visitors skew young. The best rank I've had during the last 12 months was ~49,000.
Several years ago when my site was getting ~300 uniques/day I installed an Alexa toolbar and visited my own site several times a day in the regular course of my work. The rank went to ~36,000 proving that not only is manipulation possible it is extremely easy--I did it by accident.
While the day to day Alexa figures are very inaccurate and swing widely I find the graphs covering the past one and two year periods are remarkably similar (in shape) to my actual graphs. edit added a few words for clarity
[edited by: andrea99 at 5:46 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2006]
Yes, there is. Check Google Page Rank and you will have a better understanding how popular / valuable is a site.
The Google page rank bears no relationship to a site's popularity with people.
Similarly, people claim (I have never tried it) that the Alexa page rank is easily manipulated. The Alexa page rank is certainly only relative among users of the Alexa toolbar, whoever they are!
Better to judge your popularity, should your ego require it, by the number of pages requested each month. And if you are in business, by the amount of profit made.
...but doesn't your ranking have something to do with how many people who have the toolbar visit your site?
It has everything to do with that, visits by toolbar users is the entire basis for the ranking. Alexa toolbar users tend to be younger, tend to be newbies. The toolbar slows your computer, uses resources and is considered spyware by many.
For reasons no one, not even Alexa can explain, the toolbar is very popular in Korea and Korean sites rank higher for that reason.
"Why do you think it is an important indication?"
Because we live in a competitive world, and some of us love to know how they perform and are eager to compare their performance with others.
Tragically, Alexa ranking is just not a usable ruler. Why? The answers were given above: Easy to manipulate and the Bar is in no way soziodemographically (no expert on this at all) distributed properly to use the alexabar sufers as a sample.
I do not understand, why many people just dont understand this. Even some Domainers take a Alexa Rank as one of the factors to assess the value of a domain. Ridicilous.
If we want to know how we perform, its simple: Check your OWN stats for your traffic.
If we want to know how we perform compared to others, take your keywords and see your ranking in the SERPS.
At the end of the day, that is what it is all about.
BTW... Alexa Ranking will be kaputt the same day G starts to publish a ranking based on the Google Bar. At least we can then expect better algos. ;)
(sorry for my bad english)
edited for clarity
[edited by: acersun at 11:35 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2006]
The only ranking I care about is the balance of my checkbook.
If you factor in the demographic skewing the ranking does give you some idea about how your site compares to your competition, and if one of your competitors is gaining on you at your expense this can signal you to try to figure the cause before it actually begins to affect your checkbook balance.
Ranking provides motivational benefits, watching your progress can spur you (and your employees) to continue the good work. It is a validation of work already done.
If these aren't enough I would suggest that anyone who really cares about their web site certainly has some curiosity about how others view the rankings, flawed though they may be. If all you care about is your checkbook you should go shopping. Shop at my place it's cool and popular! :)
how your site compares to your competition
I'm in a very unique position. Rather than sell merchandise that I have to buy from a distributor, I created sites that generate income through subscriptions. In one sense I don't have direct competition (at the moment) but i expect it to develop eventually.
In my case I am not concerned about people finding me through SEs because I chose a more traditional marketing approach - I advertise and exhibit at trade shows relevent to my product. Anyone who finds me through a SE is gravy.
However, when I'm looking for parts for my vacuum cleaner, or need to order a certain product, I rarely click beyond the first two pages of the SERPS. For those folks, I would imagine, page rank is very important.
But, with billions of web sites out there, and programs like oCommerce and other quick start stores available, the "science" of page rank seems like voodoo to me.
I have a friend who recently started an online pool supply sales catalogue. Like dozens of others. Because he is small, and new, he can't buy the parts in enough quantity to sell low enough to compete.
Yet, I encouraged him to continue. there are more ways to drive traffic than price. People will pay more for a better value. If he provides more value to the visitor beyond the commodity sold, he will grow and prosper. A high page rank will help, but it won't be the reason for success.
It all comes down to Apple's sales pitch from a few years ago. Think Different. (differently is more grammatically correct as my son pointed out to me).
People post here about not being found by G or others after being on line for a few months. I usually respond with my sugar packet wisdom about whispering down wells vs. climbing trees and hollering.
For me, in my opinion, SEs will find you as your business grows. As more people find you and recommend you to their friends, as you advertise more, as you climb trees and holler, your business will grow.
As for my competition growing, that's actually a good thing. The market is big enough for all. We both can be successful. As for their ranking by an arbitrary marker, I really don't care. I can tell by the buzz in the industry if they are doing something right and I am doing something wrong.
Personally I don't have the alexa toolbar installed, but I check the alexa ranking every month to see how my website is doing. I remember my site was ranked in the 2 million in the first year, then 800k in the second year, and now it is in 100k range. The ranking is relatively accurate to the growth of my website. It also tells me how well my site is doing as compared to a few leader in my industry.
In case if you are interested, the average daily unique visits of my site over these 3 years are: 300, 1200, 4000
Currently, only 1 (one) visitor out of 100 on our sites has installed Alexa toolbar!
It does not matter how many of your visitors have installed the toolbar. It is a statistical measure of the percentage of internet users who have installed the toolbar. While the stats may gear towards the people who frequently visit Amazon.com, this pool of people can somewhat represent the general behavior of internet shoppers.
I have several sites under 10k in Alexa, so I have a pretty good beat on how accurate the numbers are. It's also the only way I can tell how my competitors are doing since my visitors have the same chance of having the toolbar installed as their visitors do.
Also, at any given time there are usually a few dozen website for sale on ebay that claim to have thousands of visitors daily or more. Having a daily ranking in the millions makes this highly improbable... which demonstrates another good use for the Alexa numbers.
I always see people bashing the alexa ranking. It is not totally reliable, but it does provide an easily accessable general overview of how popular a website is (provided that you don't try to manipulate it).
I'd agree with that. Alexa traffic rankings are ballpark estimates, and I think the rolling 3-month average is useful if a site is in the top 50,000 or so. If nothing else, a ranking of 500,000 or 4,000,000 will tell you that a site isn't a player in its niche.
My own site ranges (in thousands) from the high teens to the high 30s, depending on the time of year. (Right now it's at 22,289, which seems about right for its current traffic level.)
We need to remember that most site owners aren't Webmaster World members, aren't SEOs, and have better things to do than sit around clicking on different computers with the Alexa toolbar installed or devising software to skew the Alexa rankings.
I think the biggest problem with Alexa rankings is that the user needs to avoid comparing apples with oranges. Alexa ranks domains, which means that (for example) a little-trafficked site called widgetbaking.about.com would show an Alexa traffic ranking of 58 (About.com's ranking), while a far more successful site called www.widgetbaking.com might show an Alexa ranking of 20,000 even though it has 10 times the traffic. This doesn't mean Alexa is defective; it just means that, like any tool, Alexa is most useful in the hands of people who understand how it works.
I had a site that started 9 months ago, initially i had all my 20 articles on one main page and my Alexa rank was around 300,000 then my site grew and my popularity increased, so much so that 3 months ago i changed the format of the site and created 9 sub main pages, each of those sub main pages has numerous other pages from them.
Now my visitors bookmark internal pages, google directs people to inner pages of my site and my traffic is more spread out.
My traffic has trippled since 6 months ago, but my Alexa rank has gone from 300,000 to over 1 million.
By the way, I could easily manipulate my Alexa rank and get in the top 100,000 but it is of zero value to myself and any serious webmaster.