Alexa rankings is one of those benchmarks that everyone mentions, much like your "klout" score in the social media world. But how is it really calculated and is it a true reflection of how your website traffic is tracking?
We have been guilty of stalking our Alexa ranking and celebrating when it jumps 1,000 places in a week or so. Being a fairly new site, we count this as an achievement in our books. However upon some further research I soon discovered that it does not really correlate with real traffic. Some other sites I manage have more traffic, but have a much lower Alexa ranking - so what gives?
After trawling around the internet I soon discovered that Alexa ranking only tracks traffic from users with Alexa cookies or toolbars installed in their browser, and this is the reason why it may not correlate into real world traffic stats.
How does the Alexa cookie or toolbar get installed?
If you have ever gone to the Alexa website chances are your will still have a cookie from them, unless you clear it regularly. The toolbar can also be downloaded from their site and has the benefit of telling your the Alexa ranking of the site you are currently visiting.
What does this mean for me?
Alexa rankings are a great benchmark for yourself, however it is important to know how you get the ranking. It isn't the be all and end of all rankings but if you are looking to commercialise your website and sell ads, it may be advantageous to have a better Alexa ranking.
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