Why Alexa ranking is important for your website and How to Improve it
A few years ago while attending a workshop on the right approach for Google Adsense with a website, I came across the term Alexa Ranking. The coordinator explained how one of the startups, that he had backed, went on to attain a very high Alexa ranking within 6 months of launch. A high Alexa Ranking, it appeared, was the holy grail of online world.
The situation is much the same, even now.
Critics have, time and again, attempted to write-off Alexa as a metric for measuring a website’s popularity. And each time Alexa has bounced back, much to the surprise of website owners when they talk to advertisers or investors. Why? Because at 6.5 million monthly visits, as of 2015, it is a resource virtually impossible to ignore despite its flaws.
Let us understand how Alexa rankings work and why, as a website owner, it is important to keep an eye out for these rankings.
To set the stage, a short background.
In 1996, Alexa was founded as an independent company and got acquired by Amazon in 1999. The company claims that it possesses information such as traffic stats and global rankings for over 30.0 million websites. (And that’s what makes it such a hard tool to ignore!)
How Alexa Ranking works
Alexa collects browsing data, pertaining to a website, through its toolbar. The toolbar transmits the data back to Alexa servers where it is stored and analyzed. Alexa Ranking is based upon analysis of this data.
Download Alexa toolbar here.
This effectively means that Alexa collects data for only those websites which are surfed via browsers on which this toolbar is installed. It also means that no browsing behavior is collected for those websites which are surfed via browsers which do not have Alexa toolbar enabled.
Firstly, Alexa toolbar is generally used by techies to track data for their own/client’s/competitor’s website(s). Thus websites which are frequently browsed on “Alexa” enabled browsers are found to have much higher rankings as compared to those which are not browsed on such browsers.
For e.g. consider that you have a website which publishes short stories for kids and grown-ups. Assume, majority of the traffic on your website comes via those browsers which do not have Alexa toolbar installed on them. Compare this with a website which shares SEO tips and is browsed by techies who have the toolbar installed. Now your website is bound to have a lower ranking than the other website which gives SEO tips. And this is because Alexa toolbar registers lower traffic on your website as compared to this other website. It does not differentiate between an educational website and a website offering SEO tips. So even though the traffic on your website might be huge, if it is not coming via browsers which have Alexa toolbar on them, your Alexa ranking will suffer.
Secondly, experts believe that these rankings can be manipulated by website owners by installing Alexa toolbar on their own browsers to access their website. Further, they can ask their friends and family to do so, thus pushing up their rankings. More traffic to a website via toolbar enables browsers result in higher rankings!
And that makes this whole Alexa ranking mechanism flawed.
But wait, can you still afford to ignore Alexa all together. Well, the answer is “maybe” and “maybe not”.
We say, maybe not.
Why you should care about Alexa rankings
There are plenty of factors which make Alexa rankings hard to ignore (not impossible though but hard).
A. It is the only publicly available comprehensive ranking system with a database of over 30.0 million websites.
B. Advertisers and investors still put a lot of weight behind these rankings. So Alexa ranking of your website becomes important if you are want to approach an investor or sell advertising space on your website.
C. Being an industry standard tool, it lends weight to your website. A high Alexa rank increases the trust factor.
D. Considering that Google has stopped updating its PageRank publicly (according to sources they still update it internally), a higher Alexa ranking gains importance.
E. Alexa is a good analytics tool as it provides insights about your own and your competitor’s websites. Though Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics still remain the best free analytics tools for one’s own site.
How to improve Alexa Ranking of your website
These are some of the methods that will help you improve your Alexa rank. Remember the golden rule of success – there is no shortcut to it. A better Alexa rank is no exception.
1. Produce original, engaging content that is valuable to your readers.
2. Post regularly on your website.
3. Get high-quality inbound links by writing guest posts for websites which have much higher authority than your website.
4. Interlink pages on your website to make them more engaging for the reader.
5. Optimize your content for the keywords relevant to your niche. While you optimize, keep in mind that you are writing for a human and not for the search engines.
6. Analyze your competitors and incorporate their best practices on your website.
7. Download Alexa Toolbar on your browser to closely monitor your progress. You can also install Alexa widget on your website to showcase your updated rank. Visitors to your site may click the widget which would help improve your rank.
8. Always go by the book when it comes to SEO (which is essentially rule no. 1)
9. “It pays to pay for paid traffic”. The more traffic on your site (whether organic or paid), the higher your rankings will soar on Alexa.
Recommendation: To get accurate rank on Alexa, it is recommended that you certify your website on Alexa. Learn how to do it. Certifying your site would provide a more accurate Alexa rank, not necessarily a better one!
Note: Earlier you could ask for a review of your website on Alexa which helped your rankings. But this feature has been discontinued.
Movement in rank
Initially, your rank will move up very rapidly as you gain traffic till you reach closer to 100,000 rank. Alexa rank <100,000 is an indicator that you are receiving serious traffic to your website.
Having said that, as you move closer to 100,000, improvement in your rank slows down. It happens because more visitors are required to move up your rank. See the images below.
Alexa rankings, though not entirely flawless, remains an important industry metric that is looked up by various stakeholders. Though you may not formulate a strategy to grow your rank, it is not advisable to ignore it outright.
Grow your website with valuable, genuine content. Share it widely and with time you should see continual improvement in your Alexa rank.
Hope you found this article useful. Do let us know if you plan to work on your Alexa rank.