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Alexa Is Nuts

Wednesday 10 November, 2004 (12:23PM GMT)

How the hell does Alexa work? How does it figure out which site is more popular than another site?

Day to day it certainly doesn't correlate to the HTML Dog stats. One day it's ranked 40,000, the next 400,000! Now, my reliable information tells me that there's not much difference between those two days, so I can only assume that suddenly 360,000 websites became incredibly popular all of a sudden. But they must only be flash-in-the-pan successes because the next day HTML Dog'll be back up to 60,000 or something.

Nuts I tell you.

The bigger problem actually lies elsewhere. Okay, okay, actually, I do know how Alexa works - the statistics are collected from those who download and use the Alexa toolbar (which doesn't explain the mentioned phenomenon - that's all just nuts). Being an Internet Explorer-only application, it instantly excludes traffic generated by Mac users and Firefox/Opera/etc. users, which, as one example, will adversely affect the results of (and therefore misrepresent) sites such as web design blogs who tend to have a disproportionate number of readers who don't use IE.

So until Alexa manages to collect data from all types of web users, these rankings, especially those in the lower echelons, are hardly accurate. Which is a shame. I love this statistics stuff.


Comment 1

Hey, count yourself lucky. If you look at the page for my main site:

You get a screenshot of my hosting provider's home page. That's also where it sends you when you click on the [Go to site now] button. "Nuts" doesn't come close.

So said Chris Hunt on Wednesday 10 November, 2004 at 1:53PM GMT.

Comment 2

You think that's nuts - When I looked up my domain ( it comes up with details for! I've tried to contact Alexa and get this resolved, but 5 months of emails and non-returned phone messages I've given up.

Does Alexa have any real bearing on SEO or overt relevance in the scheme of site placement anymore?


So said David Mead on Wednesday 10 November, 2004 at 2:15PM GMT.

Comment 3

Alexa ... is wack. My site dropped 3 million points. Since the last time I checked a couple of weeks ago. I put no stock in these ratings.

So said nixter on Wednesday 10 November, 2004 at 3:19PM GMT.

Comment 4

"There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics" ... attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Alfred Marshall, Mark Twain and a few other dead people depending on what you read (or indeed, if you read).

But then Bart Simpson once said, "People can come up with statistics to prove anything; 14 percent of people know that"

Nuff said ;)

So said theUKdude on Wednesday 10 November, 2004 at 4:44PM GMT.

Comment 5

Yay thank god for Firefox... Alexa cant find me now. I was getting sick of the Alexa tool bar installing itself on IE, since I've had Firefox I haven't needed Spybot Search and Destroy...Or Addaware...

Don't you have some kind of stat tracker You can use? Our servers are all connected to DeepMetrix and as far as I can tell it's reasonably accurate.

So said nathan on Thursday 11 November, 2004 at 10:43AM GMT.

Comment 6

Chris, that's because your host has only set up "" to point to your web site. "" (i.e. no host header / subdomain) points to your host.

So said Marcus Tucker on Thursday 11 November, 2004 at 1:12PM GMT.

Comment 7

And in addition to theUKdude's earlier comments, 47% of statistics are made up on the spot. :p

So said Marcus Tucker on Thursday 11 November, 2004 at 1:16PM GMT.

Comment 8

The fact that Alexa doesn't take into consideration traffic from Firefox or Opera has to dramatically skew the results. Websites such as this are technical related and most technical people stay away from IE when possible. Thus, I'm sure the Alexa results definitely undercut most techie websites due to popularity of browsers other than IE among the crowds they attract.

So said dmacatack on Monday 22 November, 2004 at 10:23PM GMT.

Comment 9

My theory on Alexa's insanity is that their sample size is so small that just one visitor on your site with the Alexa toolbar can cause your stats to spike. I think that Alexa is only useful to get a very general idea of traffic trends over several months.

So said ChrisR on Tuesday 23 November, 2004 at 6:12PM GMT.

Comment 10

Ups and downs represent a little sample computers who use alxea toolbar.
I test it by refresh.
When i use temporary user accounts from a XP, and switch between acounts and refresh.
Alxea rank rised the next day.
It done well.

How sharp.

So said Steven Tao on Wednesday 24 November, 2004 at 3:57PM GMT.

Comment 11

Yes, Alexa is weird.

I discovered that just by installing their bar and setting my website as homepage, I went from position 300 000 to position 80 000 .
So 1 surfer that visits a page very often is probably enough to raise the website a lot. I removed the bar because they allowed competition to post false accusations without any proof in the reviews list. My website went again over 100 000 ... without loss in my traffic :D .

So said [Anon] on Monday 20 December, 2004 at 3:53AM GMT.

Comment 12

Alexa... Damn that thing looks cool. Thanks for the link.

So said Ashley Portman on Monday 20 December, 2004 at 12:04PM GMT.

Comment 13

i hate alexa too.
but so many people believe that ,how can i do?

So said hanlun on Tuesday 28 December, 2004 at 4:55AM GMT.

Comment 14

I used to check our domains with Alexa but I prefer not to do it now and use some more reliable variables... Anyway, we have good traffic and good clients :))

So said Jane on Monday 17 January, 2005 at 9:14PM GMT.

Comment 15

I hate Alexa. Their website thumbnails are damned annoying. Screw the ratings! I judge how "popular" I am by Webalyzer and other server/FTP stats. I clicked in because I'm looking for a way to make those god-awful thumbnails go away! FF plug-in, maybe?

Go away Alexa! Let me surf in Peace! *shakes fist*

So said MsCantBWrong on Wednesday 26 January, 2005 at 6:49PM GMT.

Comment 16

I don't mind alexa so much. Sure it is a bit in accurate, but it is one more way of tracking stats and users. Use it for what it is and not all the things it could be.

So said ethan on Wednesday 20 July, 2005 at 1:06AM GMT.

Comment 17

I agree, Alexa has been going a bit unstable. Going up and down. But now mine is plunging slowly. I was just wondering if I drive more traffic to my site will that help raise my Alexa? I use to be hitting high until maybe I reached my peak. I hope they can tweak the Alexa program to more of a quality basis and also scan more frequently.

So said Daniel on Thursday 18 August, 2005 at 11:51AM GMT.

Comment 18

My Alexa ranking is also a strange animal. One day my free Mp3 site was at 2284 and three days later it was all the way up to 43971 then today I checked twice and it was different both times. Go figure. So I think that it isn't that accurate to say the least! And Why doesn't it work for Macs anyways?

See for yourself.

So said Mike B. on Wednesday 9 November, 2005 at 11:36PM GMT.

Comment 19

Is there any more sites out there like Alexa that do the Job better without having to pay for the Information, ABC rating is €3000 + software, bit steep for your budget...

So said Pat on Wednesday 7 December, 2005 at 11:26AM GMT.

Comment 20

If alexa was in the traffic ranking thing, would it show as higher than any other site on the internet?

So said Bradyok on Monday 26 December, 2005 at 5:30PM GMT.

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