Alexa is one of the most popular sites that webmasters, online advertisers, and Internet trend researchers use to get information about websites including top sites, Internet traffic statistics, top search keywords, and related links.
How Alexa Works
Alexa offers traffic rank as a number for each site that it measures. This traffic rank is a measure of page views and users of a website and is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users.
- Alexa’s “reach” measures the number of users, so it shows the popularity of a website.
- Page views: The number of pages viewed by site visitors over the last 3 months in which multiple page views of the same page made by the same user on the same day are counted only once.
- Bounce %: Bouncing is caused by users exiting a website, without clicking anything on the landing page or browsing another page of the website.
- Time on site: The average time a user spent on a website.
- Search %: The percentage of a website’s traffic that comes from Search engines.
The sample size of the traffic data collectable by Alexa directly affects the accuracy of a website’s Alexa traffic rank. Websites that have relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa. And for some of the low traffic websites, Alexa will have insufficient data collected so will provide no traffic report at all. Examples:
- The traffic rank of websites with fewer than 1,000 monthly visitors will not be accurately determined.
- The traffic data estimated for the websites with traffic rank that are out of the top 100,000 are not reliable.
Why Use Alexa for Chinese Websites?
Alexa is a free service and a quick tool, when you need to find unbiased, third-party information about a website on the Internet and quickly get a small snapshot of Internet marketing information for the website.
For example, if you’re considering buying advertising space from a website, use the website’s Alexa traffic rank to estimate how much traffic this website will be able to deliver to your website.
Alexa allows you to compare up to five websites regarding traffic rank, reach (users), pageviews, pageviews / users, bounce %, time on site, and search %.
Let’s compare the reach (popularity) of five Chinese B2C websites (Dangdang.com, Amazon.cn, 360Buy.com, Paipai.com, Vancl.com) on Alexa:
For Dangdang.com, let’s look at the Alexa Traffic Rank (global rank) and CN Rank:
Let’s look at Dangdang.com’s search traffic including: Top search queries, 1-month increase search queries, and 1-month decline search queries:
Issues with Alexa
Besides when a sample size gets too small, Alexa traffic rank and reports can be inaccurate. Reasons why Alexa can be inaccurate include:
- Alexa relies on statistical sampling that isn’t random and determines websites’ ranking by counting the number of web pages that were visited by people who have downloaded the Alexa toolbar.
- The group of people is mostly random, who are mostly webmasters, Internet marketers, and other marketing-related and/or market research-related people.
- Many technical guys’ statistics can be completely out of the calculation of the Alexa ranking as most of them may not want to install toolbars that may spy on their surfing behavior, even when Alexa collects only aggregate information that doesn’t show individual behavior.