What the Heck Alexa: Finally in the Top 100

Alexa LogoSo, I have been working really hard on increasing my rankings for this site so that I could break into the top 100 list at 45n5.com, and while my Technorati rank is looking good, my Alexa rank refuses to budge as much as I am hoping it will, and recently I saw my line dip so far down, I nearly had a heart attack.

I first started wondering if all my hard work been for nothing? Should I have spent more time promoting Alexa, and asking each and every one of you to use a browser with its toolbar while browsing this blog?

Should I have tried all the ridiculous tricks that bloggers seem to believe, like adding the graphic with my current statistic onto my site, or setting up some strange redirect in hopes that the user will get counted?

Or is this the natural movement that sites see as they grow, change and evolve? I really don’t know. Just like most ranking systems, Alexa, and its ranking system, is sometimes difficult to understand.

What I’ve Learned about Alexa

Alexa uses their toolbar as a major part of their system to track how many visitors a site gets, and how many page views they load on a single site. They take this information and compare it to other sites they track data on, and create a ranking system based on this information.

Here is a blurb about the ranking from Alexa:

The traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). As a first step, Alexa computes the reach and number of page views for all sites on the Web on a daily basis.

The main Alexa traffic rank is based on the geometric mean of these two quantities averaged over time (so that the rank of a site reflects both the number of users who visit that site as well as the number of pages on the site viewed by those users).

The three-month change is determined by comparing the site’s current rank with its rank from three months ago. For example, on July 1, the three-month change would show the difference between the rank based on traffic during the first quarter of the year and the rank based on traffic during the second quarter.

You can get that toolbar from their download page. Some people swear by putting the toolbar on their web browsers, as it can help give them data, and if you just happen to browse your own blog, you will be giving them traffic data and page view data about your own site.

Alexa Rank Graph

What You Can Do to Improve Your Rank

Improving your rank is fairly simple as there are really only three things you can do to get it rising. The first is simply to get more traffic. The more traffic you get, the more likely you will be ranked higher.

The only way your rank wouldn’t change with more traffic is if none of your visitors have the Alexa toolbar installed, so my second tip is to ask your audience to install the toolbar. The more people that use the Alexa tool, the more precise these rankings get, and if nothing else, in the short term it should help get your rankings up a bit more.

The last tip, isn’t really something you can do to improve your rank, but instead something you should consider if you want a high Alexa rank, you should target those that will use the toolbar. Many webmasters have the toolbar installed so they can keep track of the rankings of their sites. If you target webmasters, you might get a higher Alexa rank, than someone talking about cars, even if you both get the same amount of traffic.

Does Alexa’s Rank Matter?

For me that rank, no matter how unrealistic or incorrect it is, still effects how certain others perceive this site, and for me it is even more personal, as it effects my position on what I consider to be THE listing of sites in my niche.

While the ranking might not be exact, and its ability to judge sites is dependent on a toolbar that only certain groups of people will have installed, it still is worth it to focus on improving that rank. If you are going to sell advertising, or if you are going to promote yourself as an expert in your niche, having a better ranking on every well known, commonly used system, is always an advantage.

Update: My stay in the Top 100 didn’t last long as Mark had to make changes to the ranking system. I am still working on getting back into the Top 100, but it doesn’t look like I will make my goal this month of doing so. I am currently 105th on the list.