I’m sure everyone has heard of Alexa, most (if not all) bloggers have installed the Alexa toolbar in their browser. But word on the street is that Alexa has overhauled their ranking system.
Rather than rely exclusively on the surfing habits of those that have installed the browser toolbar, they will also aggregate data from multiple sources.
It’s very obvious that there are issues with measuring traffic at a site based on someone having installed a toolbar onto their browser. It’s not the most reliable method of determining traffic. This is what has led to Alexa overhauling their system – I’m just surprised that it’s taken them so long.
There are other systems out there, that are capturing market share and doing a much better job of presenting “pretty” graphs and statistics. One such site is http://www.compete.com.
Compete also provide competetive information about sites that you look-up. For example, I did a report on John Chow dot com vs John Cow and it returned the traffic over the year broken down by month. But it also told me that there are 137 keywords that sent visitors to his site, and for John Cow there were 47 keywords. Compete will give you the first 5 keywords for free, and to get the rest of the information you need to pay (surprised?).
Compete uses the credit system, and when you first sign-up you get 5 free credit (they say that is $10.00 value so approx $2 = 1 credit).
Compete also provides a video tutorial of how their system works.
What concerned somewhat me was what I found on their About page:
Compete is a new breed of web analytics company. We have a diverse sample of 2,000,000+ U.S. internet users that have given us permission to analyze the web pages they visit and ask them questions via surveys. We’re betting that the insights we create from consumers’ online behavior – whether they’re watching, searching, shopping or socializing – is valuable for companies who are looking to radically improve their marketing. We think that web analytics means analyzing what consumers do across the entire web, not just what they do within a particular site, and that marketers can use this rich information across the entire company, not just for online media planning or site design decisions.
This is the same process used by many other companies, for example when you fill out surveys on your shopping habits or are telephone interviewed on the same.
Compete also runs a great blog (http://blog.compete.com), with a lot of valuable (and entertaining) information on it.
Back to Alexa…
The biggest change at Alexa has been to drop the exclusive reliance on the Alexa toolbar for traffic data. It was interesting the spin they threw on previous flaws:
Your ranking wasn’t wrong before [MB: Sure, but it wasn't right either], but it was different [MB: aaaaah, so that's what it was. Different...]. Alexa toolbar users’ interests and surfing habits could differ from those of the general population in a number of ways, and we described some of those possible differences on our website. While the vast majority of sites’ rankings were unaffected by such differences, we’ve worked hard on our new ranking system to adjust for situations in which they could matter. The new rankings should better reflect the interests and surfing habits of the broader population of Web users.
CrunchBase had this to say about the overhaul:
A search of tech blogs saw many with significant drops in rank, where as political sites have had big boosts. For example TechCrunch and the Drudge Report were tracking similar figures on Alexa prior to the change, where as now the Drudge Report is a mile out in front.
Although regularly derided in the past for its often bizarre results (like YouTube having more traffic that Google), Alexa has continued to maintain popularity due to its broad global reach and completely free service provision. Time will tell if Alexa has done enough to appease its strong and vocal critics.
What has this meant to you? Have you seen an increase/decrease in your Alexa ranking? Unfortunately from my current location, I am unable to access Alexa so can not tell what my new ranking is.
…not sure about your site, but I don’t know if I’d want to go around wearing a shirt like his
UPDATE: Here is my Alexa graph after the Alexa overhaul. The changes made very little impact. If I remember correctly, my Alexa score was around 287,xxx and now it’s 232,494. So a little bump for me.