Alexa Rankings: You Can't Believe Everything You Read Online

I recently questioned a friendly competitor if the Farmer/Panda Google update had affected his traffic. I noticed his site's Alexa ranking had recently tanked. He reminded me that Alexa has its limitations, especially as a tool to evaluate ILS efficacy.

My own site’s current Alexa rankings prove his point. For example, one of my city-specific sites clocked 35,000 visits in the past few days. Its current 1-month Alexa ranking is about 900K. A site I just launched a few months ago had a couple thousand visits in the trailing 30 days and has a 1-month Alexa ranking of about 600K.

Why does this happen? Alexa makes assumptions about the popularity of websites using just a subset of all Internet users who have downloaded the Alexa toolbar. If people who download the toolbar either don't go or are more likely than average to visit sites like yours, your Alexa rating will be distorted.

My friend also reminded me that there are plenty of leads and leases being generated on third party sites, so it's theoretical to survive as an ILS with virtually no traffic to your site—but that's for another blog post. In the meantime, when you are looking at Alexa and other website traffic rating sites, just remember what your mother told you: Don't believe everything you read.