December 12th, 2006 | Categories: networks, social media, trends

Alexa logoJust how accurate are Alexa rankings? Some live by them. Others mock at their very existence. I stand somewhere in between. Probably closer to the ‘mocking’ crowd, however.

This system has become very popular, more specifically within the blogosphere. It provides relative insight into site rankings and traffic statistics. Alexa has long been the household name in the area, but others such as Hitwise, ComScore, and more recently Compete are charging ahead at full speed. But even these new services are inaccurate - on a good day. Skewed is the understatement of the year.

Here are some interesting points to keep in mind about the Alexa system:

  • SEO sites and communities achieve unusually high ALEXA rankings because a large number of their users employ the toolbar on a regular basis. The same can be said for technology sites in general, as compared to traditional web properties.
  • As the rankings increase, they inherently become more accurate. In other words, the top sites are more accurately ranked, than say, the sites with a ranking of 20,000+.

In other words, Alexa ranks are not gospel. Many prospective sites should be ranked much higher than they appeared to be, while others a lot lower. I admire the company for trying to come up a solution to this problem, but it is nearly impossible to estimate traffic rankings without pulling actual site data from the various web properties.

I have to admit that I do use Alexa on an infrequent basis. It provides a ballpark picture of traffic stats and a general overview of where a site ranks. But more importantly, it shows where spikes and dips occurred along the way. These changes can usually be attributed to various marketing tactics and/or PR escapades. Subsequently, an individual can view this information to determine which scenarios worked or didn’t work for the company.

Though Alexa gets beaten down for its inaccuracy, I still do believe it provides some general direction and guidance into the world of traffic stats and ranks.

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