In simple terms, Alexa Traffic Rank is a rough measure of a website’s popularity, compared with all of the other sites on the internet, taking into account both the number of visitors and the number of pages viewed on each visit.
Graph of Alexa Traffic Rank
Alexa collects traffic data on a daily basis from millions of users who have installed the Alexa Tool bar and other sources, and then uses a complex mathematical formula on three months’ worth of data to arrive at the ranking for each site.
This can be interpreted as the website’s position in a massive league table based on both visitor numbers and the number of pages viewed by each visitor. The ‘most popular’ site is given a rank of 1, the second ‘most popular’ a rank of 2, and so on down to the millions of websites that receive relatively few visitors.
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A little history about Alexa Ranks
Founded in 1996, Alexa is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com (acquired by Amazon in 1999) that specializes in providing commercial web traffic data gathered via various toolbars and web browser extensions. Some of Alexa’s most notable previous activities include providing a database that served as the basis for the creation of the Wayback Machine and the creation of various search facilities (now largely discontinued). However, the thing they’re probably best known for is, of course, their ‘Alexa Rank’ – a metric that ranks websites in order of popularity or ‘how [well] a website is doing’ over the last 3 months.
How are Alexa Ranks measured?
According to the official Alexa website’s Our Data page, the rank is calculated using a ‘combination’ of the estimated average daily unique visitors to the site and the estimated number of pageviews on the site over the past 3 months – with the site with the highest combination of unique visitors and pageviews being ranked as #1. The data is collected from a subset of internet users using one of 25,000 browser extensions for either Google Chrome, Firefox, and/or Internet Explorer. An algorithm then ‘corrects’ for various potential biases and attempts to compensate for visitors who might not be in Alexa’s measurement panel (a factor it historically hasn’t always tried to accommodate for) and normalizes the data based on the geographical location of visitors.
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How accurate is Alexa Traffic Rank?
You should bear in mind that the rankings are calculated using traffic data collected only from users who have the Alexa toolbar installed, and who may or may not be a representative sample of all those who use the internet.
As a result the number of visitors to each website may not be accurately estimated, especially where that site receives relatively few visitors. In general, traffic rankings of more than 100,000 should not be considered reliable, but used as a rough guide only.
Are Alexa Ranks important?
For most site owners, ‘how a website is doing’ is of course very important, however, when assessing your own website my advice would be to simply stick with Google Analytics data rather than to go attributing any significant meaning to your site’s Alexa Rank. When looking at competitor’s sites however, by all means take a quick peek at their Alexa Rank for a very rough idea of how popular their website is relative to yours (assuming the same kinds of people visit both sites – thereby hopefully minimizing some of the biases brought about by the significantly-less-than-perfect way in which Alexa gather their data); however we definitely wouldn’t go thinking a particular website gets more traffic than another merely on the basis that its Alexa Rank happens to be only a few thousand lower – and if the website you’re interested in happens to have a rank of anything even near the aforementioned 100,000 mark, it’s probably best not to go attributing any significant meaning to comparing Alexa Ranks at all!
How are Alexa’s traffic rankings determined?
Alexa’s traffic estimates and ranks are based on the browsing
behavior of people in our global data panel which is a sample of all Internet users.
Alexa’s Traffic Ranks are based on the traffic data provided by users
in Alexa’s global data panel over a rolling 3 month period. Traffic
Ranks are updated daily. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure
of Unique Visitors and Pageviews. Unique Visitors are determined by the
number of unique Alexa users who visit a site on a given day.
Page views are the total number of Alexa user URL requests for a site. However,
multiple requests for the same URL on the same day by the same user are
counted as a single Pageview. The site with the highest combination of
unique visitors and pageviews is ranked #1. Additionally, we employ data
normalization to correct for biases that may occur in our data.
If your site’s metrics are Certified you
can display Global and Country ranks for your site based on Certified
Site Metrics, instead of metrics estimated from our data panel.
Alexa’s Traffic Ranks are for top level domains only (e.g.,
domain.com). We do not provide separate rankings for subpages within a
domain (e.g., http://www.domain.com/subpage.html )
or subdomains (e.g., subdomain.domain.com) unless we are able to
automatically identify them as personal home pages or blogs, like those
hosted on sites like Blogger (blogspot.com). If a site is identified as a
personal home page or blog, it will have its own Traffic Rank, separate
from its host domain.
For more information about Alexa’s traffic rankings, you can visit:
There are limits to statistics based on the data available. Sites
with relatively low measured traffic will not be accurately ranked by
Alexa. We do not receive enough data from our sources to make rankings
beyond 100,000 statistically meaningful. (However, on the flip side of
that, the closer a site gets to #1, the more reliable its rank.) This
means that, for example, the difference in traffic between a site ranked
1,000,000 and a site ranked 2,000,000 has low statistical significance.
Sites ranked 100,000+ may be subject to large ranking swings due to the
scarcity of data for those sites. It is not unusual for such sites to
decline to “No data” Traffic Ranks, or to improve suddenly.
How to Display Alexa rank on your Website?
using an Alexa widget like this you can display your site’s Alexa rank on your site: