If you’ve subscribed to the One Spoon Newsletter and read the Website Traffic Kickstart Report you’ll know that I talk about the Alexa ranking of a website as an indicator to watch for when performing some of the traffic generating strategies in the report. (If you haven’t subscribed yet, here’s a big hint and a link to the subscribe page 🙂 )
I’ve had a couple of emails asking for more information on Alexa ranking and how you can use the information contained in an Alexa ranking for your online business.
So, What is A Website’s Alexa Ranking?
The Alexa ranking of a website is a guide to how popular that website is in the world. The most popular website in the world has an Alexa ranking of 1, the second most popular website in the world has an Alexa ranking of 2, and so on.
You can go to the Alexa website – at www.Alexa.com – and enter the URL of any website and get the current Alexa ranking for that website. There’s also some other date that can be useful in your online business strategies – such as keywords people are using to navigate to the site, back links to the site, demographics, popularity in different countries and more.
So you can get a feel for Alexa, here is the current top 10
How Do The People at Alexa Calculate The Alexa Ranking?
What they have is a downloadable toolbar that people just like you and me download and install as an add-on to their web browser, and Alexa track people’s web browsing habits using this toolbar.
The results of that tracking appear in the Alexa ranking.
So it’s no surprise that Google is #1. Or that Facebook is #2, or YouTube #3.
But What About The Alexa Ranking of ‘Normal’ Websites – Like Yours and Mine?
If you’ve seen the latest TRAFFIC REPORT, you’ll see that the Alexa ranking for this website is around 1,700,000 – and I’m pretty pleased with that.
And I use Alexa ranking as a simple metric to tell if my website is getting more ‘popular’ or not. Popular in the context of Alexa rankings means that your website is getting more visitors – and getting visitors should be one of the goals of every owner of an online business. (Here’s another nudge – don’t forget to subscribe to get access to the free Website Traffic Kickstart report).
When I started out back in September 2010 my Alexa ranking was around the 12 million mark – so I’ve made big strides in only a few months. And if you’ve read any of the Traffic Reports you’ll know that my goal is to get my Alexa ranking to below 100,000 by July 31st.
Is That All You Can Use The Alexa Ranking For?
I also use the Alexa Ranking of websites in determining some of my business strategies. Say for example you wanted to do some Forum Marketing, and there were four or five different forums in your market, you can use the Alexa ranking to sort those forums from Most Popular to Least Popular.
As a rule of thumb the Most Popular forum will have the most number of people visiting, and that’s probably the Forum you should be targeting first with your efforts.
You can use the Alexa ranking of blogs and websites in your target market in a similar fashion, and order them by popularity so that you can focus on the sites with a lower ranking (remember the smaller the ranking, the more popular the site is).
Now if you’ve got to work out the Alexa ranking of 40 or 50 different websites, blogs and Forums it will take a bunch of time to do that manually typing the URLs of those sites into the appropriate field at Alexa.com. However there’s a handy shortcut you can take, that makes it much easier to find a site’s Alexa ranking.
And that is to use a browser plug in.
Finding Alexa Ranking Without Being At The Alexa Site
No matter what Internet browser you use to surf the old Interwebz, there is a plug-in available for you that will display the Alexa ranking of any site that you visit. If you use Chrome or Explorer you can just use the Alexa toolbar itself – and become part of the whole Alexa experience!
To find a plug-in for your browser simply type a search like: ‘Alexa Ranking Plugin Firefox’ – obviously if your browser is NOT Firefox, then replace that word with whatever your browser is.
You’ll get several results – you should be able to find a result to suit you that’s easy to install and will allow you to start checking out Alexa rankings as you surf around the Internet.
If you DO use Firefox however, let me give you a quick tip. Search instead for the SEO Quake plugin. This has got a bunch of handy SEO features built in and can do some other cool stuff that’s outside the scope of this article.
How Accurate Is The Alexa Ranking?
You should take a site’s Alexa ranking as a guide. The people who install the Alexa toolbar tend to be ‘techy’ types – and consequently there’s an inbuilt bias towards certain types of sites.
That being said, even if the Alexa rankings in your market aren’t totally accurate in a real world sense, they are still accurate in a relative, market sense. So if your competitor is ranked at 500,000 and you are at 1 million you know you have a fair way to go to catch up.
The Alexa ranking is a metric you can use in your online business in several ways.
You can use the Alexa ranking of your own website – and plot it over time to measure how successful your efforts at generating traffic to your website are.
You can also use the Alexa ranking of websites, blogs and forums to ‘sort’ them from most popular to least popular – so that you can efficiently target the most popular sites for your online traffic generation efforts.
You can get a site’s Alexa ranking by typing the URL into the appropriate field at the Alexa website. A much easier way – and far less time consuming – is to install a plugin to your browser that automatically displays the Alexa ranking of every website that you visit.
Remember that due to how the Alexa ranking is determined that the results should be viewed as a guide only – but that guide is still accurate enough for refining and focusing our marketing efforts.