While people do not rely on it as much as they did in the past, the Alexa ranking of a domain is still a great way to measure the popularity of a domain name. It is a simple metric to understand too. If a domain has an Alexa Rank of 5,000, it means that it is the 5000th most popular website in the world. Therefore, a domain name owner will want to have their Alexa Rank as low as popular.
One of the main reasons why the Alexa Rank is not as popular as it was in the past is because it is not 100% accurate. Alexa Rank is determined by people who access a website using their web browser which has the Alexa extension installed. Since many people enjoy privacy, a lot of them are opting not to install the Alexa extension.
There are ways in which the Alexa Rank can be made more accurate. For example; Alexa has a service akin to Google Analytics where a tracking code can be installed on the website. It will register the information of website visitors even if they do not have the toolbar installed. It does cost money, but it guarantees that the Alexa Rank is as accurate as possible.
Owing to the importance of Alexa as a ranking tool, it was purchased by Amazon. Amazon, in turn, developed an API which allows developers to program functions to retrieve specific stats from the Alexa database.
- The current Alexa ranking for the domain name.
- Historical ranking data for the domain. Both this and the previous are only available for the top 100,000 domain names.
- The ability to search for data per country. Some countries are worth ‘more’ in terms of ranking. For example; a site ranked at number 3 in the USA is far better than a site ranked at number 3 in Ghana, all down to internet access.
- User engagement. It includes how long the user is spending on the website and their overall bounce rate. However, do bear in mind that this information will consist of data from the owner of the website. If you have the Alexa toolbar installed and regularly access your site, it will manipulate this data, and thus you shouldn’t rely on it 100%.
- What search engines are sending the data, as well as the keywords sending traffic to the website. It is not as accurate as the paid tools, such as SEMrush, but it works.
- Which sites are referring traffic to your website.
- The number of links pointed at the domain (Ahrefs is far accurate premium SEO analysis tool).
- Who your audience is. However, this is information that can only be gained from Alexa toolbar users. It includes information such as languages spoken, gender, etc.
The Downsides of the Alexa Rank
One of the main downsides of the Alexa ranking is that the data is very easy to manipulate. For example; since most of the stats come from Alexa toolbar users, multiple people using the toolbar can easily manipulate a website into the top million sites online, which may not seem like an excellent rank, but it is when you consider how many sites are out there.
Specific sites are more likely to rank higher than others by way of the people actually using the Alexa Toolbar in the first place, e.g. a webmaster is more likely to have a toolbar than your average user, which means sites dedicated to SEO and the like may rank higher than, say, a website devoted to food.
Generally speaking, you can assume that the better the rank is for a website, the more accurate it is, i.e. a site ranked in the top 100,000 is probably less prone to manipulation than lower ranks.