Putting Alexa Rank to the Test

Alexa rank. We all know it’s totally unreliable as an accurate ranking for websites, but for some reason, we still keep checking it. Well, at least I do.

Today, I was trying to explain to someone why Alexa rank is so unreliable. It didn’t seem like they were quite getting it, so I thought I’d try this.

I took the statcounter stats for 19 sites, and compared those numbers with the Alexa rank for each of those sites. The results were pretty much what I expected, and also what I’ve seen when comparing my own sites traffic stats with alexa ranks.

(Remember, with Alexa Rank, lower is better)

Site Pageloads (per month) Unique Visits
(per month)
swansea.info 4,193 1,517 1,093,097 local/ travel
ferrao.org 12,322 4,100 7,307,702 News Blog
labitacora.net 14,469 9,663 652,472 Blog
kottu.org 21,378 11,595 1,168,943 Blog
igrice.hr 59,097 22,482 391,457 Gaming
tolkienlibrary.com 61,701 25,615 384,627 Books
liberalavenger.com 56,453 27,987 701,743 News/ Politics blog
claysbamapage.net 65,559 39,846 685,256 Football
seologs.com 150,243 50,665 9,921 SEO/ SEM
pixelperfectdigital.com 256,571 74,608 125,565 Photography/ Design
versosperfectos.com 436,716 98,814 78,620 Music
militantplatypus.com 712,886 144,355 130,692 Photography/ Design
eclipse-plugins.2y.net 450,307 159,205 33,404 Programming
poea.gov.ph 639,658 202,965 50,306 Govt
emezeta.com 649,052 405,382 25,312 tech blog, espanol
osx-e.com 3,518,005 830,437 62,039 Mac
microsiervos.com 2,496,956 1,452,791 6,040 Computer science
blogadorn.com 13,403,525 1,713,931 52,704 Clip Art for Myspace
javimoya.com 18,075,839 7,848,084 2,098 youtube downloader

One of the best examples of skewed Alexa data, happens to be this site. It’s ranked under 10,000, while sites that get more traffic are ranked over 100,000. This is because so many more SEO folks have the Alexa toolbar tracker installed in their browsers, in the form of firefox extensions and regular toolbars. Those people visit tech/ web/ marketing related sites (like seologs.com) way more than they visit other kinds of sites.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still think Alexa is a really useful service. Especially when comparing really similar sites. It’s just good to be aware of this flaw.

If you’re wondering how I got access to the stats for these 19 sites, see this post about how to view public stats for thousands of sites. Also, if anyone else wants to share any real stats along with your Alexa rank, please do.