Problems with Alexa Ratings
I've always found the website Alexa.com an interesting place to see how your website ranks against the rest of the websites out there. I knew it wasn't perfect but felt that it was still a fairly decent benchmark of how my websites ranked. Recent trends though are making me reconsider that view.
For those that don't know, Alexa is a company that attempts to rank all the websites in the world relative to each other. 1 is the highest rank and it goes down from there. They determine this rating based on the browsing habits of users who integrate the Alexa toolbar into their browser (knowingly or not).
The three most popular websites that I have are (in this order) Smooth Operator, EvilScale.com, and then this blog. Traffic wise, Smooth Operator is slightly ahead of Evilscale.com. KrisSteele.net gets slightly less than half the traffic of each of those websites.
If you take a look at Alexa though, you get a very different picture.
Smthop.com: 1,349,531 (3 months), 1,799,252 (this week)
EvilScale.com: 1,962,232 (3 months), 1,666,346 (this week)
KrisSteele.net: 867,118 (3 months), 426,990 (this week)
I should also note that traffic for Smthop and Evilscale have been higher in the past month than they have been in a couple months yet their Alexa ratings both took significant nosedives.
What I gather from this is that the users using Alexa's toolbar is not a fair representation of Internet users in general. Given the normally technical nature of this blog, it appears that Alexa users skew much more towards that demographic. This makes me wonder what other demographics skew their results too (perhaps vampire websites are hugely popular with the Alexa crowd for instance).
I'm not going to stop looking at Alexa because of this (mostly because I don't know of any place that does this better), but I certainly am going to put a lot less faith in its accuracy.
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