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What’s the deal with Alexa rankings? April 30, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging.
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Traffic

I’ve been studying hard the last few days, meaning I’ve had to fight the urge to work on my novel (which needed a break anyway) and blogging.  Nevertheless, I figured since I’m not going to have a whole lot of time doing posts these next few weeks (because of upcoming exams), I might as well try and think of ways to drive more traffic to my blog.  Yeah I know, just a different way to waste the same time.

I’m virtually retarded when it comes to stuff such as Alexa, PageRank, Widgets, Buttons etc – things that have apparently been around for quite some time and yet I’m only just starting to find out what they are.  I even added buttons for stuff like Stumble, BlogCatalog and Technorati to my blog today (after much struggle) without really knowing what the heck they are supposed to do.

Why?

The whole point of this (apart from driving traffic in general) is that I’m trying to get my blog into in this top writers’ blog list that is calculated according to your Technorati Ranking, Alexa Ranking and PageRank.  Anyway, my blog has really spiked exponentially in hits over the last couple of weeks, largely thanks to my European travel posts (either that or this new stat system WordPress is testing).  Consequently, my Technorati Ranking has been steadily improving by a few hundred positions on a daily basis and my PageRank has improved too.  I started getting optimistic about my chances of getting into this list.  In fact, my rankings were good enough to rival some of the other blogs on it.

Alexa

Here's a sample Alexa stat graph I found online.  I doubt my one would even have a line.

Here's a sample Alexa stat graph I found online. I doubt my one would even have a line.

But my Achilles heel turned out to be my Alexa ranking.  I did a search and discovered that my Alexa ranking was only a tad over 4 million, which was just way over what I needed.  I know that this doesn’t mean much because Alexa rankings are supposed to be ridiculously unreliable, lagging and inaccurate.  It’s essentially a webmaster’s tool (I don’t even know what that is!) and gets manipulated all the time.  However, I still want to get on that list, damn it!

So I started searching for ways to improve my Alexa ranking, and man, there are stacks of them out there.  You can spend a whole week and you probably won’t run out of posts on this topic.  Most of them were way beyond my comprehension or too sophisticated for someone of my limited computer skills – or needed you to pay money or buy something (scam alert!).

The only things that I could do for sure were: (1) install the Alexa toolbar in my browser; and (2) get other people to do the same.  According to the tips, just doing these 2 things and visiting my website a couple of times a day will boost your rankings significantly!  So I downloaded the Quirk SearchStatus toolbar for Firefox and got my wife to do the same.  But then the weirdest thing happened.

WTF?

Since installing the toolbar a couple of days ago, my Alexa ranking has actually been getting WORSE day by day!  In just 2 or 3 days, my ranking has gone from just over 4 million to almost 4.2 million!  What is the deal?  I mean, my hits have been going up, so why is my ranking going down?

According to this page, it’s because Alexa is a relative score which indicates the popularity of a website relative to others visited by those with the Alexa toolbar installed.  Hence it is possible to be a victim of your own success if those with the toolbar visiting your site visit a lot more other sites, relatively speaking.

That doesn’t seem to make sense in my case.  With my ranking before, it suggested that very few people (if any) with the Alexa tooolbar installed were visiting my site.  Therefore, if my wife and I both added the toolbar to our browsers, that should mean 2 more Alexa users are visiting my site on a regular basis – considering there were almost none before, this should be a relatively significant increase.  But instead, no love from Alexa.  It has rewarded my effort by giving me a worse ranking!  Makes me wonder whether uninstalling the toolbar would stop the bleeding…

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Comments»

1. Alexander Field - May 1, 2009

Yeah I’ve wondered about Alexa myself…it’s a bit perplexing…but oh well! : )

2. pacejmiller - May 2, 2009

Yes, Alexa stinks but people still use it. One thing I finally discovered recently is that Alexa rankings are based on total views/visitors over the past 3 months. Might explain why there is such a huge lag in ranking changes.

3. Matt - May 3, 2009

i’m sure my alexa ranking is 10 zillion. sounds like your really getting into this stuff!!

4. pacejmiller - May 3, 2009

I just want to get into that top blog list!

I’m sure your Alexa ranking is not that bad – I have been visiting your site with the toolbar installed, hehe. Things are starting to look up a bit – last time I checked I was below 3.5 million…


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