Saturday, April 14, 2007

Alexa traffic rankings bias?

I keep hearing about Alexa and how Alexa ranks websites. I checked it out today. My three most "successful" websites are ranked by Alexa. This blog is in the 5 million range (i.e. there are a bit over 5 million websites that get more traffic than this blog).

What I found interesting is that my law firm site, redlichlaw.com, at #1,282,824, outranks our traffic court directory site, town-court.com, at #1,641,944.

Alexa, which is owned by Amazon, explains its ranking process on a page called About the Alexa Traffic Rankings. This says that the traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users.

But town-court.com had a lot more traffic in the last three months than redlichlaw.com - roughly 50,000 unique users versus maybe 20,000. Even the previous three months the directory had more visitors than the law firm site.

This tells me there's clearly something wrong with Alexa's ranking system. My first guess is that there's a lot more Alexa toolbars on the west coast than on the east coast. My law firm site gets a lot of visitors looking for things related to California speeding tickets. The directory site doesn't have any courts in California -- but that's coming soon. :-)

Check out the Alexa Global Top 500 if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Update: I noticed another explanation - that Alexa toolbars are used more by people in the search engine optimization industry. That's from a post on Search Engine Journal.

Further update: After reading that post, I checked out compete.com. Their absolute numbers are off - my sites get a lot more traffic than we're getting credit for, but the trends looks accurate and the comparison between them also is about right.
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