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PR vs. Alexa rankings

     
8:38 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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In a nutshell, our sites' homepage has a PR 6, about 6000+ on Alexa. But our two main competitors have PR5 homepages, but on alexa, they are damn near the top 1000th websites in the world.

I know there isn't THAT much difference between PR6 and 5, but this is contradictory in nature and seems odd to me.

3:12 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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A big concern, common to most sampling methodologies, is the range of estimate. Alexa gives a point estimate, of say 73,425 but it would be more responsible on its part to add the range of estimate too by stating something like: Estimated rank of 73,425 with 95% chance that the actual rank is between 9,123 and 2,345,675.

Personally I think Alexa is a useful tool, albeit currently its usefulness is limited to top 1000 or so (more likely 100) sites.

5:41 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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IT is good for some areas. Gameing, Korean, SEO.
6:10 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have Alexa installed, as does many webmasters. If this theory were true than _every_ site we visit on a daily basis would already be 66% closer to being ranked within the top 20,000? (Our hit, plus the webmasters own hit)

I didn't see any major jump in my Alexa traffic ranking after I installed the Alexa toolbar. Nor have I witnessed any dramatic changes on the occasions when I've been out of town for a couple of weeks and haven't used the Alexa toolbar. (I'm usually somewhere in the 30,000 range, having climbed there slowly but steadily from the 40,000s as my traffic has grown.)

In any case, even if someone could skew the Alexa rankings with a macro or some other trick, so what? Most publishers aren't going to bother. Also, the real strength of Alexa isn't its ability to show who's a player; it's the ability to show who definitely isn't a player.

Here's an example: Let's assume that a PR person is trying to decide whether to invite the editor of antarctica-travel-articles.com on a press trip to the Ross Ice Shelf. If antarctica-travel-articles.com ranks 100 in Alexa, that may or may not be proof that the site can deliver a significant audience for the PR agency's client. The PR person is going to have to use some judgment, just as he or she would have to do if Alexa didn't exist. But, if antarctica-travel-articles.com has an Alexa traffic ranking of 289,324, the PR person can be fairly certain that the site has relatively few readers--and that it shouldn't be included on the PR agency's short list for further vetting.

Bottom line: Alexa is just a tool. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be perfect--it merely needs to be useful, and it is useful for some purposes (such as the example I've just given).

6:31 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I didn't see anyone commenting on the relativity of the alexa toolbar. if you are looking at the alexa rankings as absolute numbers then you are not understanding what the rank numbers mean. each rank is simply relative to the sites above and below. you cannot tell the difference in actual traffic between ranks. for instance, the #100 ranked site might have 3 million pageviews per day while the #101 site could have 1 million pageviews per day or it could have 2.9 million pv/d. you cannot tell. all you know is one site gets more than the other. because of this, the alexa rankings are only useful to see trends against competitors. then you can sort of see if you are gaining or loosing ground, although you cannot tell by how much. its value is completely subjective and its information is absolutely relative. certainly, any assumptions gleaned from the alexa info should be corroborated with other indicators.
8:39 pm on Nov 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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> 1 ip once per day for a given site.

No - 1 ip per page view - not per site.

> agent: alexa

No, alexa does not id itself. Only certain partners that distribute the toolbar with their id have the agent=alexa moniker. You must specifically check for it with an activex construct.

Until google has the guts to release their own toolbar data, Alexa is the best measure of traffic on the web today.

2:20 am on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It could be the best "elephant spray" in the universe and it would still be useless.

Now you are getting close to understanding my point! Yes it is useless and yes it's the best there is. Just like Alexa!

John, Alexa can only rank sites by taking the info from those *using* their toolbar. You tell me what that % is of all people in the world that use the WWW. I bet it's such a low % the figures mean zip.

You can also explain to me how a site that gets 100 hits per day could be ranked around 10,000. If that does't ring any alarm bells nothing will.

To think their system is useful in analysing WWW makes you your own worst enemy.

Dave

3:16 am on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Brett_Tabke,

I don't know where you're getting your information from, but I've installed alexa many times on many computers, over several different versions of windows, and EVERY SINGLE ONE identifies itself as part of the browser string sent to the web server. I'm talking about the toolbar downloaded directly from Alexa.com without changing any properties or settings in the toolbar. Far as I can tell, it does this by default from the only place I know of to download the toolbar.

Example of my own browser hitting a website:

x.x.x.x - - [12/Nov/2003:21:52:24 -0600] "GET /img/d_s.gif HTTP/1.1" 304 - "http://x.com/" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; Alexa Toolbar; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

No doubt what Alexa does is far from being completely worthless, however any system that allows for a single user to change its ranking so greatly, you must always take what Alexa says with a grain of salt.

3:22 am on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Please forgive the text formatting, but here's a quick grep of my apache logs for the last few days showing other Alexa users on one of my websites:

4 "Mozilla/4.0(compatible; MSIE6.0; WindowsNT5.1; Q312461; YComp5.0.0.0; Alexa Toolbar)"
30 "Mozilla/4.0(compatible; MSIE6.0; WindowsNT5.0; AvantBrowser[avantbrowser.com]; Alexa Toolbar)"
33 "Mozilla/4.0(compatible; MSIE6.0; WindowsNT5.1; .NETCLR1.1.4322; Alexa Toolbar)"
<snip>

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 12:19 pm (utc) on Nov. 13, 2003]

3:41 am on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Alexa is only usefull if you are comparing Oranges to Oranges. I use Alexa to check my direct competitors. At least that way, you are baselining for geographic biases and other factors for your industy.

Also I generally look at long term trends. People that inflate Alexa results by having all their friends install the Alexa Toolbar, ussually get bored after a few weeks, as your Alexa Ranking has no impact other than boosting your ego. I rather boost my bottom line.

5:20 am on Nov 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Also I generally look at long term trends. People that inflate Alexa results by having all their friends install the Alexa Toolbar, ussually get bored after a few weeks, as your Alexa Ranking has no impact other than boosting your ego.

Exactly, and that's obviously one reason why Alexa says the 3-month average is the number to watch.

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