Alexa – traffic ranking
For a while now I’ve included Alexa traffic rank on my Blog at www.jasonslater.co.uk as a widget and I’ve been wondering whether it really serves any useful purpose (the widget not the Blog!). When I first started out Blogging I was interested in how I was doing and whether I was reaching the potential readership I was aiming for which is how it first appealed to me. Ranking tables often give a good indicator as to whether something is being pitched to the right audience and how many others are doing same thing – after all who wants to tread the same old ground?
These days I have Google Analytics installed so any time I want to check on the relative success of a post or topic I can refer to that so what is Alexa doing for me? I also use Technorati from time to time as another useful measure though I tend not to check these sites as regularly as I used to – as most of my time these days is taken up researching or writing the posts (Blog overhaul update … it’s all about communication!).
My thoughts about Alexa are usually triggered when I run an Internet security scan (Trend Housecall) as it will often appear as an infection when running various scans so what is it about Alexa that has these services so riled? Seeing Alexa appear as an infection during a scan can immediately send stirs of panic to a user especially when it is unexpected and the user takes security precautions whilst online. For example:
- F-Secure list Alexa as Spyware (F-Secure Spyware Information Pages: Alexa)
- Trend list is Alexa as Adware (during an online scan) and Spyware (SPYW_ALEXA.A)
- Symantec list Alexa as Trackware (Trackware.Alexa – Symantec.com)
There are plenty of sites that explain what Alexa does (What is Alexa Ranking?) and why it may be reported as spyware (Is Alexa spyware?) so I’m not going to go over the same old ground other than to say Alexa (whilst enabled) collects information about the web sites you visit and offers traffic and ranking information based on this and other collected information.
As Alexa is pretty much an opt-in program (whereby a toolbar is downloaded into the browser) is the information it offers really covering the potential readership a web-site is aiming for? I guess it depends on the web site. Alexa is often used as a popularity gauge (15% of a site score in the Blog Juice Calculator relies on Alexa) but as it requires an add-in to Internet Explorer I wonder who uses it and whether it is representative of a wide mix of the web community? Looking at the Global Top 500 list it is dominated by social networking and media sites which are definitely in vogue at the moment so it does seem to indicate that it is in touch with the current trends. A number of different views exist on Alexa include:
- Why You Should Completely Ignore Alexa Stats – PaulStamatiou.com
- 3 Reasons Why Alexa Sucks (And They Know It!)
- Slashdot | The Real Problem With Alexa
- Alexa: Why You Should be Using the Toolbar
- How Social Networking Makes an Impact on Alexa Rank | I’m Blogging …
- Google’s PageRank and Alexa Rank: Useful or Not? – E-Biz Booster Blog
- Alexa Ranking – what does it mean to you? « webmonkey
- Promoting Your New Web Site
Do you use the Alexa toolbar? What are your views?