We simply love comparing … who’s is bigger, better, faster, nicer, sexier and all the ‘ers’ one can think of. It’s exactly the same when it comes to websites. We are continuously comparing sites, striving to have the most popular, followed, visited, liked and clicked on site.
One of the metrics used for website ranking is Alexa, which should indicate how sites are faring compared to other sites. I accentuate the word should because loads of people do not believe in the way Alexa’s rankings are defined and are very skeptical in accepting the accuracy of its listings. The way Alexa works is by combining an estimated average of unique site visitors together with an estimated number of page views. This is then tweaked through an algorithm which is supposed to normalise data and make up for any biases.
So why isn’t Alexa as accurate as we might have thought?
First and foremost, not all sites, clicks, visitors and views are accessible, so ranking is only based on a few million people and only a few different browsers. The fact that Alexa is not completely transparent in the way it collects data surely doesn’t help. According to what is stated on the site, and here I quote, ‘The rank is calculated using a proprietary methodology that combines a site’s estimated average of daily unique visitors and its estimated number of page views over the past 3 months.’ Not exactly a clear foolproof system I dare say.
Having said all this, Alexa, together with a few other online metrics such as Google Analytics, is a good indicator of popularity and for someone like me who works in the marketing industry, it is a tool that helps in planning and budgeting online marketing campaigns and in choosing the right sites.
So in my humble opinion, if the Alexa rank is being used for detailed statistical studies, I am a bit of a Thomas, questioning and doubting how exact these stats are. In other words, Alexa has a good idea of what’s going on, but she’s no flipping oracle!
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