Long before Amazon released the Amazon Alexa Echo devices, Amazon acquired another company by the name of Alexa, one that provides commercial web traffic data and analytics.
Though the two companies belong to Amazon, and share the same name, there is no correlation between the two. In fact, there is some indication that the digital home assistant company had no knowledge of the commercial web traffic site prior to the release of the Amazon Echo. The digital home assistant was actually originally marketed as the Amazon Echo, but once people started to refer to their echo as Alexa, using the “wake up” word that activates the cloud device, Amazon leaned into the marketing. That explains the twin brand confusion, and though most people are familiar with the Alexa Digital Assistant, the Alexa Analytics company is not as well known… that is unless you run an e-commerce website.
Business owners will want to know a few things about Alexa rank, specifically: what is the Alexa Rank, how it’s calculated, how to check yours, and how to improve your Alexa rank score. With this information business owners will be better informed to optimize their SEO, their Alexa rank, and sell space to advertisers.
What is the Alexa rank?
The Alexa rank is numeric indicator assigned to websites by Alexa.com, a website that provides commercial web traffic data and analytics. Many people compare it to Google Page Rank. Google’s Page Rank algorithm, however, looks at the authority of a webpage (singular). In order to rank high on Google, you need to create content using SEO keywords, ensuring that your content is high quality so that other sites will back-link to your content. Alexa doesn’t use the same type of ranking system. It doesn’t use SEO. Instead, it’s a little more like a popularity contest.
Alexa uses data like how often a site is visited, and how long the visitors spend there in their algorithms. Alexa also uses data they compile from traffic over the last three months to determine a domain’s rank. In short, Google measures the quality of a page, while Alexa measures the popularity of a site. The rankings are not interchangeable, and provide different valuable analytics.
With that said, Alexa rank analytics need to be taken lightly. Quantity does not always equal quality, and vice versa. Keep in mind a few things when considering a sites Alexa rank. The lower your score (1 being the best) the more accurate the information will be. As one site stated “Alexa does actually state on their website that ‘traffic rankings of 100,000 and above should be regarded as rough estimates‘ and that conversely ‘the closer a site gets to #1, the more accurate traffic rankings become‘.” Which means that you could have a popular site with lots of traffic, but you still have a poor ranking. Then again, just because you have a high Alexa ranking doesn’t necessarily mean that the content on your site is high quality. Alexa rankings work best when the data is used in conjunction with other analytical tools.
How is the Alexa rank calculated?
As we discussed, Alexa rank is determined by a complicated algorithm consisting of website traffic, time spent on the site, and formulas to correct for biases.
Why exactly does Alexa have to correct for bias? Well, in the past there were issues with their data collection. In part due to their introduction of data collection from those using the Alexa Toolbar. This is what Alexa had to say about this feature: “Alexa could not exist without the participation of the Alexa Toolbar community. Each member of the community, in addition to getting a useful tool, gives back. Simply by using the Alexa toolbar, every member contributes valuable information about the web, how it's used, what's important and what isn't. Alexa returns this information to the community as Traffic Ranks, Related Links, and more.” Which literally meant that they were collecting data from their tool bar users.
Now, consider this for a moment… do you have the Alexa toolbar installed? So, the people who were benefiting from this were the people whose business had a target audience that was apt to download a tech-savvy toolbar. Aware of this, Alexa has taken steps to improve the accuracy of their data.
They’ve also incorporated data from over 25,000 plug-in extensions, as well as started using source data from third party providers. Though they have improved their data collection algorithm, their reputation (and erroneous “facts”) continue to precede them. While their rank system may still have flaws, Alexa is a valuable tool for evaluating where your business stands among your competition. Use Alexa to evaluate other sites within your niche, and see where you rank. That’s where the real value lies.
How can I check my Alexa rank?
Simply go to Alexa’s website and enter your domain, or use a free alexa rank checker. From there it will take you to an analytics page full of valuable information. It will show you the Alexa traffic ranking (global ranking and US ranking), the audience geography (my personal favorite – showing where your viewers are in the world), bounce rate, page views, and time on site, where visitors originate from, sites that link back to yours, and similar websites.
There’s a ton of valuable free analytics available to help you develop your brand and website. This information, especially when paired with other analytical data, can give you a comprehensive overview of your sites performance when compared to other sites within your niche.
How can I improve my Alexa ranking?
Here’s the big question, how can you improve your Alexa ranking? Since your Alexa ranking is based on your website traffic, the key to increasing your Alexa ranking is to increase your site traffic.
Here’s what you can do. Improve the quality of your content, and focus on SEO. While Alexa does not measure for SEO, it does measure site traffic. By ensuring that your content is SEO driven, you're going to increase the number of people that land on your page. While working to improve your quality of content, also consider increasing the length of your content. That helps you in two ways. It improves the quality of your content, giving other sites information they can link back to, but it also keeps your visitors on your site longer (which makes you a little more visible). Also, post new content consistently, and often. It will give your visitors a reason to come back.
You can also consider using Alexa's services to monitor traffic on your site. For a monthly fee you can install their code on your website and they will provide you with a certified Alexa ranking each month. This will give you a more accurate view of your ranking (especially if your number is above 100,000 – their less accurate rankings). While it may seem counter-intuitive to pay for traffic tracking services that offers their services for free, it may provide more precise data that you can use to better your site.
There is also some suggestion that giving your viewers a call to action may help improve your score. Have your visitors subscribe for updates, encourage positive reviews, and link to other pages on your site to invite your visitors to consume other content you have available. Engaging with customers is a great way to improve your brand recognition, increase brand loyalty, and get your visitors coming back for more. More engagement equals more visitors, and more traffic equals a higher Alexa ranking.
Your Alexa ranking, especially if you are over the 100,000 mark, should be taken with a grain of salt, as with all analytical information. Use the tools available to compare your site with similar sites.
The Alexa traffic rank will give you just that, a picture of your sites traffic. Traffic itself is only half the game. Ensure that your content is updated, valuable, and engages your customers. While Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa may be running the world, you can use Amazon’s Alexa rank program in order to rule the digital/e-commerce world.