Friday, January 30, 2009

Why Alexa Web Rankings Don't Matter

There's a lot of interesting information available in the wild on the internet. One of the latest things that I came across last month was Alexa Web Rankings. It's interesting to take a look at how sites match up against other ones. For instance, this chart is really cool: it shows how WaterSki Magazine is kicking out butts.

Quick! Mann the cannon!

Oh well, I'm not worried about it. Especially because it just doesn't matter. Sure, I'd like us to be the #1 ranked site... which is Google... with 139,637,119 people on every day... but that's just not the case.

It's also worth noting that the way that sites like Alexa measure web traffic is by voluntary installation of web-tracking tools like the Alexa toolbar:

    There is some controversy over how representative Alexa's user base is of typical Internet behavior. If Alexa's user base is a fair statistical sample of the Internet user population (e.g., a random sample of sufficient size), Alexa's ranking should be quite accurate...

    The Alexa toolbar is regarded by many vendors as spyware. Symantec classifies the toolbar as Trackware. McAfee Site Advisor rates the Alexa website as yellow with a warning, "In our tests, we found downloads on this site that some people consider adware, spyware or other potentially unwanted programs," and the site has 67 user ratings of "Adware, spyware, or viruses" as of July 2, 2008. The toolbar is detected by McAfee as Adware-Alexa, a "Potentially Unwanted Program." Many other security vendors also detect and remove Alexa software.

--Alexa Internet Wikipedia

What this means is that having a higher Alexa ranking just means that more people visiting the site have this tool installed in their browser. Better yet, if this tool is installed on a "bot" computer that is harvesting a site for user's email addresses, this could increase a site's Alexa ranking.

This is a nitch industry and we are a nitch site. I'm much more thrilled with our google rankings, anyways.


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