Whatever the size of your company, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business owner, SEO is a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. If search engines have a hard time finding you, internet users—that’s to say, your customers—do too.
Most business owners (understandingly) focus their efforts on improving their rankings on Google. But what about the Alexa ranking?
If you’ve never heard of this oft-ignored (and misunderstood) measure of website status, you’re not alone. Plenty of small business owners haven’t. But is it something to be concerned about?
Today, we’re going to look at the value of Alexa rank in SEO and discuss whether you should focus on it to improve your site.
What Is Alexa Rank?
Alexa rank is a global website ranking system that analyzes millions of sites on the web to provide a competitive analysis of the best ones. It shows how one website’s traffic ranks against others, essentially making it a measure of website popularity.
Alexa has been around for a long time, its origins dating back to the end of the 90s. Not a lot has changed since then. Users install the Alexa toolbar in their web browsers, which gives the company access to their website browsing history and allows them to keep tabs on the sites with the most traffic.
Alexa updated the toolbar in 2008 to include other data metrics, such as widgets and web browser extensions, to improve its accuracy.
What Is a Good Alexa Rating?
Alexa ranking starts at one and may continue into infinity—or more than 1.5 billion, the estimated number of sites on the internet in 2020.
It’s challenging to establish an exact range of what’s considered a “good” Alexa rank, but the lower your Alexa rank, the higher your estimated number of visitors is.
An Alexa ranking under 30,000 is thought to be quite high. And if your site has an Alexa rank of 1, it is considered to be the most popular.
How Is Alexa Rank Determined?
Alexa uses a proprietary methodology to assign a ranking. The two primary factors that determine a website’s ranking are:
- The estimated average number of daily unique visitors
- The average number of page views over a three-month period
Alexa collects this information from their “global data panel,” or a sample of millions of internet users who have one of several browser extensions installed with Google, Chrome, etc. They also gather data from websites that have the Alexa script installed, as well as various other third party sources.
Based on this data, the site with the highest combination of the two factors mentioned above receives the number one ranking. Rankings are updated daily.
Though all this sounds pretty clear, we can’t be one hundred percent sure how Alexa ranks websites. The company is less than forthcoming about the exact sources of their information and sample groups. Plus, there’s some concern about accuracy, as limited data may affect sites that are ranked above 100,000.
Does Alexa Rank Matter?
Now that you know (sort of) how Alexa rank is calculated, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth paying attention to for SEO purposes.
Some people outright say no—and that the ranking is outdated.
Not since the early aughts. And even then, only b/c I was told to but I still didn't see any value in it. The sample size is too small to be statistically significant.— Jenny Halasz #BlackLivesMatter #MasksForAll (@jennyhalasz) April 10, 2020
Others say that it depends.
Having information about how your website is performing, like average daily traffic and metrics about the browsing behavior of site visitors, is valuable for business owners. In this regard, Alexa does offer a high-level look at how you compare to the competition.
But the most significant critique of Alexa, as noted in the Tweet above, is that the ranking is often unreliable. For example, even websites that have thousands of new daily visitors may sometimes see their Alexa ranking decrease. And many people who use reliable data from web analytics have noted that it often contradicts what the site’s Alexa rank says.
To further complicate matters, site ranking also seems to be positively influenced if you have installed the toolbar—something that, unless you hire an SEO expert, many small business owners may not know that they should do.
Should I Pay Attention to Alexa Rank?
If you’re the kind of person who loves analyzing numbers (which you should be if you want to improve web traffic), by all means, look up your Alexa ranking. It can provide useful information.
But we do advise taking it with a grain of salt. A site’s Alexa ranking is just one metric; remember that things like bounce rate and user experience both form a critical part of your SEO ranking. (And in case you’re wondering, Alexa rankings don’t appear to have any impact on Google search results.)
Instead of focusing solely on Alexa (which is more of a complementary tool than anything), there are plenty of other small business web analytics (such as Google Analytics) that are more accurate.
Keeping up with SEO best practices is a fundamental part of your marketing strategy, so you’ll also want to follow a solid SEO checklist for small businesses.
And, of course, look at your Alexa ranking as a clue that may point to other areas you can improve. The best thing that most sites can do is consistently offer value to their audience. Quality content is the best way to get site links in Google, Featured Snippets, and high rankings.
How Do I See My Site’s Alexa Ranking?
Curious to find out what your Alexa ranking is? All you have to do is head over to their rank checker and input the URL of the site you want information about. You can compare the ranks of up to five websites at a time.
Alexa’s website traffic analysis report, which you can find along with your ranking, is useful if you’re doing keyword research. The report analyzes how your keywords stack up against your competitors and shows your audience demographics.
Ready to understand what metrics really matter? Learn how I help businesses like yours with SEO to drive more traffic and more customers from search.