However, my real experiences were different. Aha!NOW’s Alexa ranking did not increase in spite of an increase in the blog traffic when I returned to blogging actively.
Why did my blog Alexa rank not increase? Read further to know my experiences with Alexa!
I was puzzled, so I decided to find the answers to my question. The first thing I did was to try to understand the concept of Alexa ranking and its nature of working.
Then I tried to find out how much does the Alexa rank really matter – is it a true or universal indication of your blog’s success?
I was surprised to know some of the results of my research.
I am sharing my personal case study about Alexa as so many of my blogging friends keep asking me about how to increase their Alexa ranking!
Some of you may already be aware of what I’m going to reveal, but to many this would clear the myth of Alexa ranking that they carry in their mind.
Whether you like it or not, I’m going to share it all! 🙂
An Overview of Contents
What is Alexa Rank and How Does it Work
I know that Alexa ranking is a very important and a sensitive issue for many bloggers.
Blogs and sites are judged for their success by the level of Alexa rank that they achieve.
While most bloggers and site owners know what Alexa is, the non-bloggers might not have a clue about it. Briefly, let’s first know what is Alexa all about.
According to Wikipedia, these are the Alexa facts:
- Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com, which provides commercial web traffic data.
- Its toolbar collects data on browsing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed, forming the basis for the company’s web traffic reporting.
- Alexa toolbar collects the information about the site bounce rate, reach, daily pageviews per visitor, daily time on site, audience demographics and geography, search traffic, site linking, and speed, etc.
- Alexa ranks the blogs and sites based primarily on tracking a sample set of internet traffic, which are the users of its toolbar for the Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome web browsers.
- As of 2014, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings, and other information on 30 million websites.
Wow, this is quite a number of websites!
The fact is that Alexa collects its site ranking data from its toolbar installed in the browsers of the web surfers.
So, if 4 out of 10 people who visit my blog have Alexa toolbar installed on their web browsers, my Alexa ranking would be based on the data collected from these 4 web surfers.
Suppose, the number of people visiting my blog remains the same, that is 10, but only 1 visitor has the browser with the Alexa toolbar installed, my Alexa ranking will be worse – in spite of having the same traffic.
So, even if your traffic is good, you might have a very low Alexa rank because those surfing your blog or site don’t have the Alexa toolbar installed.
I hope you now understand the working of Alexa ranking. Also, as mentioned on the Alexa site, the site ranking is relative to other sites.
“Since your site is ranked relative to other sites, changes in traffic to other sites affect your site’s rank.” ~ Alexa
Thus, Alexa ranking is NOT an indication of my real site traffic. It is not an accurate measure of the traffic of a blog.
It is an indication of how popular it is among the web surfers who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their web browsers.
Say, there is a “Site A”, which is a quality site with a traffic of 30,000 unique visitors per month. However, the number of visitors that visit that site with the Alexa toolbar are only 500.
On the other hand, there is a “Site B” that has a traffic of 10,000 unique visitors per month, but the number of visitors with the Alexa toolbar are 2000.
Which site do you think will have a better Alexa rank?
This is no brainer. It will obviously be Site B! However, there are many other factors too that account for your blog’s increase or decrease in Alexa rank.
What Caused My Blog Alexa Ranking to Drop
As I mentioned before, my blog Alexa rank dropped just after I took my summer blogging break. Here’s the screenshot to show you what really happened.
The above image shows the drop in my blog Alexa ranking just after I took the blogging break.
Why did this happen? Why did my blog Alexa rank decrease?
- The number of my regular blog visitors decreased since I was not posting anything new on the blog.
- I was not socially promoting the blog, so there were not many new referral and social visits.
- The number of bloggers or site owners visiting my blog decreased.
- As a result, the there was a decrease in the ranking criteria of Alexa, that is, the number of daily visitors and daily pageviews.
That’s right, Alexa takes into account the number of unique visitors and pageviews when determining the site ranking.
Okay. So far so good, and all of this I was expecting. Nevertheless, this time I was determined to take a REAL blogging break and I am glad I did!
Why Didn’t My Blog’s Alexa Rank Increase
Like anybody else, I thought that when I start posting regularly and actively promote the posts, my blog Alexa rank would increase.
It did, but only slightly.
The Alexa rank then began to gradually decline. Why did this happen?
As all of you know, I had made a few changes to my blog, and as per that, there could be possibly be two reasons to cause this decline:
- I removed CommentLuv plugin to experiment with other commenting systems. That’s the reason many bloggers with the Alexa toolbar installed in their browsers stopped visiting my blog to comment.
- My blog speed got slower due to the heavy load of the new community features of BuddyPress and BBPress.
Honestly, I did not expect such a drop in the visits from bloggers to Aha!NOW.
Nevertheless, I’m glad that I experimented removing CommentLuv as I could now distinguish between my loyal blog readers and the link droppers (though I still give out links in many other better ways through the community features!).
However, I do not blame those bloggers entirely who stopped visiting my blog because they were doing what they learned to do.
They are taught that the CommentLuv links could get them huge traffic to their blogs, and this is what the new bloggers tend to learn as the best way to get traffic.
Therefore, they religiously follow the “link dropping” culture, instead of developing real “relationships” with fellow bloggers or the blog owners.
No doubt, CommentLuv helps get traffic and promote your posts too, and I recommended it to the newbie bloggers as well as the seasoned ones, but that does not get you loads of traffic.
However, that’s another story you will know when I write about my commenting system experiment.
Coming back to solving the puzzle of my blog’s drop in Alexa rank, I discovered a few new things.
I studied my Google Analytics stats and found an increase in my site stats after the blogging break, in comparison to the site stats before the break.
Why did my blog Alexa rank decrease even after an increase in the site traffic?
There were two reasons:
- An increase in the site visitors who were non-bloggers and did not have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browsers.
- There was a huge increase in the site visitors using their mobiles and tablets.
Now, believe it or not, these are some positive indications for my blog.
My blog has tapped into the mobile segment of web surfers, and this is a big treasure mine to explore!
However, did you know that most mobile browsers do not have the Alexa toolbar installed in them?
What? This will be a shocker to many bloggers out there – your mobile traffic is decreasing your Alexa rank!
Let me ask you – do you as a blogger or webmaster have installed the Alexa toolbar on your mobile browser?
After the blogging break, my Google Analytics stats show that most people are using the Safari browser to view my blog. And I suspect that these browsers are used to surf my blog without the Alexa toolbar in them.
My new site traffic was about 50% from mobile and 15% through tablet. The remaining 35% is from desktop (including laptop) users.
This means, 65% of my blog traffic does not have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser for sure. There’s also no guaranty that whole of the 35% desktop traffic too has the Alexa toolbar.
No wonder the Alexa ranking is bound to decline, since my mobile and tablet traffic increased by about 15% after my blogging break.
Other Factors That Affect Alexa Rank of Your Blog
Frankly, I’m not at all complaining because I’ve never cared all that much about Alexa Rank, Page Rank, and all those kinds of things. They keep changing ALL the time, just like Google!
I do not mind my blog Alexa rank dropping a bit, because I’ve found a new stream of traffic for my blog.
That is because my blog is a life and self-development blog, useful for just any person in the world, from any walk of life!
However, let me remind you that the Alexa-rank-rising traffic comes from bloggers, webmasters, advertising and Internet marketing professionals.
(for the simple fact that they have got the Alexa toolbar installed in their web browsers.)
If you want your blog Alexa rank to rise, then you need to do this:
- Join blogging communities – more the better
- Become an active member of blogger and Internet marketing forums
- Visit blogs of popular bloggers and develop relationships with other bloggers
- Adopt the policy of blog commenting
- Share you posts with other bloggers and on the social media
- Share the content of other bloggers and link out to them
- Be consistent with blogging
- Use SEO and keyword-rich quality content
- Write content for bloggers and webmasters
- Invite popular bloggers on your blog
Of course, you might be aware of the other ways like claiming your site on Alexa, putting the Alexa widget on your blog, writing review on Alexa, and other things that you read everywhere – though they may not really be that productive.
I emphasize on SEO because if you’re on Page 1 of Google, you have greater chances of attracting the Alexa toolbar installed surfers.
However, I will also give you an example of how influencers visiting or promoting your blog can help increase the Alexa rank of your blog.
On May 30, 2014, I posted the interview with Harsh Agrawal on my blog.
The fact that it invited many new bloggers to my blog, and may be because +Harsh Agarwal himself promoted this post, I had a sudden hike in my blog’s Alexa ranking.
I call this the “Harsh Effect”! 🙂
This interview post brought many Indian bloggers to my blog. India has a large number of wonderful bloggers and most of them have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browsers.
Check out the Alexa traffic stats of most sites and blogs, and you will find that among the top visitors by country under Audience Geography are Indians.
If you want to increase your blog Alexa rank fast, invite the Indian blogging community – you will see your Alexa ranking skyrocketing! I mean it! (You can ask Enstine!) 🙂
Two other important factors that affect your site’s Alexa ranking are:
- Site speed
- Number of page views
I’ve two examples to demonstrate the effect of these two factors.
If you remember my earlier post on increasing site speed, the site speed of Aha!NOW that time was pretty good.
However, recently my blog load time increased because of the new community features that I added.
Probably this dissuaded many visitors to not view many pages and turn away from the blog.
My husband Vinay, performed site speed increasing operations on the blog on Aug 1, and you can see the effect on the page views of the blog thereafter.
This clearly shows that your site speed IS related to your site’s page views, and hence your blog’s Alexa ranking. The more the site load times, less will be the site page views, and vice-versa.
Let’s take a long shot. Viewing this will give you a better idea of how the page speed affects the page views.
So, maybe it was mainly the heavy site load times that caused my blog Alexa rank to drop.
The fluctuation in your site’s Alexa page views also affects the Alexa rank.
Many sites break the articles into various pages for this purpose. The pagination increases the page views if the visitor were to read the article.
Am I missing any other important Alexa rank affecting factor?
As per Alexa, “Reach” measures the number of users. Reach is typically expressed as the percentage of all Internet users who visit a given site.
To increase your reach, you need to explore new frontiers of audience. You need to break into new blogging circles, or tap new country or region readership, or altogether have more and more of people visiting your blog or website.
You can achieve this aim by at least doing this three things:
- Extensive Social Media Promotion
- Developing New Relationships
- Writing Viral and Useful Content
I’m sure you all agree with the above and have many more ideas in your mind as you read this. Please share them in the comments.
Do you want to learn more from my experiments with Alexa? I’ve some strange incidents to share with you.
Some Strange Factors that Affected my Blog’s Alexa Rank
Accidentally I experienced and witnessed two separate incidents that changed my blog’s Alexa ranking and page views.
The image below shows the complete duration of my blogging break and the behavior of Alexa ranking during that period.
There was a period of about one week during my summer break, when I had put the blog on maintenance to test out some of the new community features that I was planning to add to my blog.
These were BuddyPress and BBPress plugins that add community activity, groups, and forums for enhanced engagement of visitors.
To test out the features, I used a plugin that created a dummy data, users, and activities on my blog.
To my surprise, my blog Alexa rank increased during this trial period even when there were no visitors to my blog!
This not only fooled my Alexa ranking, but even inflated my Google Analytics stats.
The dummy activity on my blog increased the Average time session duration, pages per session, pageviews, and even reduced the bounce rate on my Google Analytics.
This shows that you must really exclude your own site from the Google Analytics tracking to get the accurate site stats. I wonder how many bloggers really do that! 🙂
Also, it proves that it is easy to manipulate Alexa ranking.
I’ve read that some people use proxy server’s to create more unique visitors and pageviews for their site.
Some people even go to the extent of buying Alexa visitors for their targeted country to strengthen their candidature for advertisers of that country!
Another incident that gave me sleepless nights and loads of worries was when I agreed to install an ad script on my blog given to me by a media agency, which promised that it’s ads will give more revenue than Google Adsense.
When you look at this image below, you will know what exactly happened.
See how sharply your Alexa rank can fall by just adding a simple script! Same way, some people use the black hat techniques and scripts to make the Alexa rise unnaturally.
Now, good bloggers should consider that a taboo – no malpractice. Don’t be fake, be real!
From this incident, I learned a lesson never to install any unknown and unreliable external script on my blog.
Many media agencies keep approaching me to test their ads, luring me with better revenue promises, but I straightforwardly refuse them now.
Your site Alexa rank keeps fluctuating depending upon the activities on your site as well as the algorithmic changes of Google and Alexa.
Below you can see the ups and downs of Alexa rank of Aha!NOW for the past one year.
I hope by now you know the reasons for the ups and down of Alexa ranking that you experience on your blog.
Moreover, you also know the ways to increase your site’s Alexa rank I hope I’m successful in lowering your worries about the decrease in your blog Alexa ranking.
Why is There Difference Between the Google Analytics and Alexa Ranking Stats
This one question has been bugging me for a long time. I am glad that I’ve deciphered it at last!
Remember, Alexa Stats are the stats ONLY of the Alexa toolbar bearing visitors to your blog.
The engagement data of Alexa shows how many pages does an Alexa toolbar installed visitor views on average, how much time does that Alexa toolbar bearer spends on your blog, and how many of them bounce off your blog after a single page view.
Whereas, the Google Analytics stats include activities of all the visitors to your site. It includes all those who are Alexa toolbar bearers and those who are not.
In addition, my Alexa stats tell me that most of the visitors to my blog are from India, United States, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and Pakistan – in this very order.
However, the Google Analytics stats put the visitor countries in this order – United States, India, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
This means that more of my Indian visitors than the Americans have the Alexa toolbar installed on their browsers.
Evidently, almost all visitors from Nigeria and Pakistan visiting my blog are bloggers.
In addition, visitors to my blog from Canada and Australia are generally non-bloggers or site owners.
You can reveal so much about your site traffic by studying the Google Analytics and Alexa stats.
Furthermore, my Alexa search traffic stats show that about 3.7% of the Alexa toolbar bearers visit my blog.
Whereas, my blog Google Analytics tells me that about 30% of visits to my blog are from search engines.
So, probably, most of my search engine visitors do not have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browsers.
As you see, you cannot totally rely on your Alexa stats. Your site Alexa stats are NOT the true indication of your site traffic and particulars.
The Alexa stats only shows the popularity and engagement stats of your blog among all the Alexa tool bar bearers in the world, which is roughly about 30 million Internet users or blogs.
How Important is Alexa Rank for Your Blog
Site and blog owners love Alexa rank for mainly three purposes:
- It increases reputation among site owners and bloggers because they DO see and talk about the Alexa rank, PR (Page Rank), or MOZ rank of a blog!
- It invites ad proposals from those who give value to Alexa rank.
- It helps analyze your competition.
Love it or hate it, you need the Alexa traffic stats.
However, is your blog’s Alexa rank really an indication of your blog traffic?
Let’s take a look from a larger perspective.
The web is growing at a very fast rate. According to NetCraft, in 2011, the number of websites in the world just doubled.
In 2013, the web grew by more than one-third of its size. Presently, as per Internet Live Stats, there are about 1 billion websites in the world, though not all of these website are active.
It is estimated that 75% of these websites are inactive. We really don’t know the exact stats and it is really very difficult to calculate the number of active sites.
For estimation purposes, we take the number of active websites to be 250 million.
So, out of these 250 million websites, Alexa provide the information of 30 million websites. That’s roughly 12% of the total number of active websites in the world.
With about 88% of website being left out, does Alexa rank make much sense?
Let’s see the picture from another perspective.
Talking of the number of Internet users, it will be touching the mark of 3 billion by the end of this year.
Just imagine, out of the 7 billion people in this world, about 40% uses the Internet for various purposes. Not all of them are bloggers.
Majority of them are simply web surfers. These web surfers do not have the Alexa toolbar on their web browsers.
None of the major Internet browser comes with pre-installed Alexa toolbar, and the majority of the normal internet-surfing public does not install the Alexa Toolbar. Most don’t even know of this term!!
Alexa does not declare the number of toolbar downloads, but in 2005, it was believed to be 10 million.
Let’s suppose that this number is 30 million today, equal to the number of websites that have Alexa toolbar.
So, out of the 3 billion Internet users, about 30 million have the Alexa toolbar installed in their web browsers. That’s roughly only 1% of the total net users!
Now I know we can interpret these stats in different terms and it will all come out with different results.
We’re not concerned with the real numbers, but just the rough idea that we get by analyzing these stats.
The numbers of Alexa toolbar users is far less than the number of total Internet users.
Thus, Alexa ranking does not give you the true and complete picture.
Are you still obsessed about the Alexa rank of your blog?
Well, I know what you will say – you have to just follow the norm and do what all others are doing, because eventually it benefits you.
We all do it because the Advertisers give so much of importance to the Alexa ranking.
Alexa does provide its certified stats for all visitors to your blog irrespective of whether you have the Alexa toolbar installed or not, if you put their script on your blog under a paid plan, but I wonder if it is any better than your Google Analytics stats.
Okay, here’s one more suggestion I have for you. Try to convince the non-Alexa toolbar visitors to your site to download and install the Alexa toolbar on their web browsers. Voila!
This would increase the Alexa rank of blogs like Aha!NOW, whose main audience are not bloggers or Internet marketers.
Nevertheless, all my commentators and loyal friends are mostly my blogging friends 🙂 and I am SO grateful to all of them for making this a wonderful blog community. 🙂
Alexa gives you the option to create your own toolbar and offer it on your blog to your visitors to download.
This is what the best non-technical and non-blogging sites can do to increase their Alexa ranking.
Another big boost to the Alexa rank would be when the mobile and tablet users will add the Alexa toolbar to their browsers. I’m waiting for that day! 🙂
Interestingly, the number of mobile-cellular subscriptions in the world will be reaching the mark of 7 billion! Wow!!
That’s very promising for our blogs, isn’t it?
If you are an android mobile surfer, then please visit the Google Play Store and download the FREE Alexa toolbar or widget of your choice.
So, I hope you are NOW convinced that a low Alexa rank or a drop in your Alexa ranking is not purely an indication of a drop in your blog popularity or the blog traffic. 🙂
You should also read the latest blog post on Alexa that states that Alexa’s measurement panel is not only based on its toolbar but also on a very large and diverse set of browser extensions and plug-ins.
They claim Alexa gets its traffic stats from 25,000 different browser extensions, so it’s not only the bloggers, internet marketers, or webmasters, but people from other walks-of-life that should matter to you! What do you think?
In the end I’d say, if you are a good and consistent blogger, writing content that helps your readers, and socialize in the blogging communities, you will get traffic – whether they are bloggers or non-bloggers.
Don’t worry about Alexa, your actual Google Analytics traffic stats matters more!
Share Your Thoughts:
Does your blog’s Alexa ranking really matter to you? What do you do to increase the Alexa rank of your site? Did you learn any lessons from this post? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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