I have recently been asked by a client to explain what Alexa is, the ranking system and is it worth worrying about how you rank with them.
Lets start from the top, Alexa is a web analytics company and it’s rating system is based on how much traffic you get. Sounds very similar to the Google model, until to get down and dirty with the facts. Alexa uses a tool bar to help rank traffic. If a user does not have an Alexa tool bar installed then when they visit a site, the site’s traffic does not get reported to Alexa. The work around is to add a piece of code to the header of your website that allows Alexa to count a visit to your site. With regards to the ranking system the lower the ranking number then the better your site is doing.
So is it worth it? Personally I feel that Alexa is a bit communist with how they generate their rank. If the rank was based on ALL sites and All visits to said site, then I would say yes Alexa is part of the big three. However, the ranking number is skewed since you either have to have code on your site or a user has to have a Alexa tool bar installed on their browser. I personally do not have any extra tool bars installed and I think that the mass of internet users follow suite with that statement. So the mere fact that the web community entertains such partial data as a whole picture is erroneous.
In conclusion, I am not doubting the power that Alexa does have with helping make marketing decisions, but as in future news articles will show, to get a true picture you can not rely on one search engine/ analytics system, you have to rely on a few and make a traffic analysis on your own. The other option is to hire a firm like us that specializes in data and traffic models and builds a close to true picture of what traffic your really getting.