Utility focussed

Is Alexa Web Analytics Flawed & Inaccurate?

Is Alexa AccurateAlexa is the best ranking tool which provides ranking to all of the websites. This article will tell you the accuracy of Alexa.

Website owners know how important reviewing the traffic, both on their as well as their competitor’s websites is. Services such as Alexa, Compete, comScore etc. serve this very purpose.

Alexa has been around since 1996, and perhaps is the most widely used and known web monitor. But the system behind Alexa is not without its tailing controversies. And the biggest question is regarding the accuracy of the results predicted by this analysis giant.

The traffic data predicted by Alexa depends upon the tracking information collected by the Alexa toolbar (for Internet Explorer) and the integrated sidebars (for Chrome and Firefox).

Alexa, which is owned by Amazon.com, is most popular owing to its toolbar, which includes a search function, popup blocker and website info portrayal. Users who download and install the Alexa toolbar, the data related to the websites which they visit is sent to the Alexa servers and then depending on the total usage of that website as surveyed from many more users worldwide is then used to compile the relative website rankings.

So is Alexa accurate? Let us decide…

The usage and traffic are monitored through the toolbar. So only those users and computers which have the toolbar installed and operational contribute to the rankings. This system is deeply flawed. For example, say you own two websites, website A and B, and you use two different computers to visit both of the websites. One computer (say computer X) has the Alexa toolbar on it, whereas the other (computer Y) does not.

You visit website A once daily through X, and B twice daily through Y. At the end, based on the data sent through the toolbar, website A would have a higher ranking, whereas although website B was visited more, would lie below it. So is Alexa accurate? Well, doesn’t seem to be.

Yes, we do agree that almost every website owner has Alexa installed, and it allows them to monitor the activity on their websites and rate other websites. However, this independence also allows the owner of the website to easily manipulate the rankings his/her website is supposed to have.

Compared to other web statistics analyzers, such as comScore, Compete etc, Alexa’s ranking efficiency has been questioned time and again. Many people prefer other monitoring services, but even they have some flaws.

Compete has a very reliable monitoring system, as it takes the statistics from two different sources, a browser toolbar and ISPs. But it covers US community audience only; so websites having major visitors who live outside the US, would not make it count.

Quantcast, started in 2006 has produced highly impressive results in the past, but its methodology is a guarded secret, which could make people uncomfortable.

comScore is another leading name in this respect, and it takes its data through benefits such as free prizes and e-mail antivirus offers. All one has to do is install a program supplied by them. But will a technology and internet savvy person install such software and risk security, or more importantly, would an office allow its employees to install such software?

There are some more drawbacks of Alexa. Windows Defender lists Alexa toolbar as ‘malware’. Symantec classifies it as ‘trackware’ and McAfee as ‘adware’. It takes three months of collected data to compile its rankings, so any recent changes may not be shown.

In fact, Alexa even ranked Youtube ahead of Google, now can that be possible in a world where the word ‘search’ has been replaced by ‘google’? You decide.



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