What Is Alexa Rank And Why Does It Matter?

By: | Updated: May 6, 2021

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Not to be confused with Amazon’s Alexa, Alexa Rank predates the proliferation of smart speakers and not by a little either. Read on as we explain what Alexa Rank is, how it works, and how it can be of use to website owners.

The Analytics Tool

Bought by Amazon back in 1999, Alexa Rank is a website ranking system that lists sites by popularity using web traffic data. It has millions of sites in its database, which can be useful for tracking how well your site is doing among the competition. Since Alexa Rank also tracks website statistics in relation to others, it might be valuable in assessing the performance of a site.

How Alexa Rank Works

Alexa rankings are, in essence, estimates of web traffic based on a sample of users who have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser. The toolbar monitors browsing behavior on a quarterly (three months) basis and uses this as a sample to form an estimate of internet traffic in total. An Alexa ranking of a website is then calculated using the estimated data both for the site traffic and for user engagement.

Another way Alexa Rank can monitor these values is if the website installs a special Alexa script that will produce direct measurements. These are later combined with global data and filtered through statistical models to come up with more accurate metrics.

Alexa rankings are recalculated and updated daily.

What Does Your Ranking Mean?

If you own a website, you’ll probably be interested in getting the best ranking possible as determined by analytics tools – including Alexa Rank. Besides the basics covered above, here are some key points to understand about your ranking.

Alexa rankings aren’t calculated for subpages or subdomains – only the top domain traffic is considered. For instance, traffic is measured for example.com, but not for example.com/page or subdomain.example.com. This is important to consider when building the site since most other analytics tools also measure the top domain by default, and subdomains must be set up additionally.

There’s a difference between site visits and unique visitors. Measuring unique visitors refers to the number of distinct individual users who viewed your site, while site visits are the total number of times that a page on your site was seen. Site visits are measured per visitor in a 30-minute time frame, so if the same visitor views the page within half an hour it is counted as a single visit.

Less specific than these two is the pageview statistic, which simply counts how many times your page was viewed or refreshed.

Your Alexa ranking might fluctuate in ways that seem counterintuitive. This can be because the ‘data panel,’ which is the number of users who have Alexa toolbar installed, is growing, so the measuring sample is getting larger. Since you obtain a ranking relative to the traffic of other sites, more information brought by a larger data panel might shift your site up or down the list. This doesn’t mean your site is doing better or worse – it simply indicates that the data is more accurately shown.

How to Improve Your Alexa Ranking

Your site’s ranking is a more or less accurate representation of how well it’s doing in a competitive environment, so ways to improve the ranking are the same as ways to increase traffic. Here are some useful points to bear in mind.

Pay attention to your content. Make it engaging, original, and always up-to-date. Quality content will create a steady base of loyal customers and attract new ones. It can also give you an edge when it comes to search results since Google and other reputable search engines tend to promote trusted sites and better content.

Make use of inbound and internal links. If you can get an authoritative site to feature a link to your page, it’ll result in increased trust for your site. It can also make search engines produce more results leading to your site and making that connection more often on relevant searches.

Different from the previously described inbound links, the internal ones are those that lead from one page on your site to another. These are valuable in keeping visitors engaged, and they can also appear as site links in search results.

Using links is tightly connected with the quality of content; for inbound links, it should go without saying that no respectable site will host them unless they lead to a page their visitors will find interesting and valuable. The same goes for internal links – the pages linked won’t keep anyone’s attention if they’re not filled with engaging and relevant content.

You should be aware that links should be used appropriately, as overcrowding your site with them can lead to lower credibility and even be penalized by search engines.

Analyze the marketing strategies and keywords your competitors use. This is a pretty straightforward principle and should always be employed in a competitive online environment.

Create and use a good SEO strategy. SEO is, without a doubt, a very important component of achieving the best possible site traffic – it will take some learning and planning, but the effort is very much worth it!

Is Alexa Ranking Important?

Every analytics tool can provide valuable information on how your site’s doing, so you should take note of your Alexa ranking. Keep in mind, though, that as far as analytics go, some tools offer wider and more detailed insights. Google Analytics is a prime example, setting a standard Alexa Rank has yet to reach.

by Brett Helling
Brett has been starting, growing, and monetizing websites since 2014. While in college, he began to learn about digital marketing. After graduating, he continued to build a diverse portfolio of websites while working a full time job. After years of building the portfolio on the side, he made the jump to run his websites full time.