Alexa is a company that was founded in 1996 by an American citizen and it was acquired by the world famous website amazon.com in 1999.
The name alexa was chosen because in the ancient times, the Library of Alexandria is documented to have had housed the largest collection of books and therefore vast amounts of information.
So, alexa was named as such so as to attempt to signify alexa as the modern version of the Library of Alexandria.
Alexa is a company that ranks every website the world over by giving each a numeric that shows how many sites are ahead of it at any point in time.
The ranking is based on the amount of traffic over the website in question and therefore keeps on changing.
The website ranking is given by alexa on its own website alexa.com and actually two ranks are given, one for the worldwide rank of a website also known as the alexa rank.
The alexa rank is what ranks a website relative to all other websites on the World Wide Web.
The second rank given on alexa is the local rank that the same website receives for the amount of traffic from its own country and its rank as against all the websites based in its home country.
Other than the rankings, alexa gives out additional info about every website such as the number of websites linking in to that website.
This is the number of websites that have posted a link of the ranked website on their pages, so that users are re-directed to the ranked website from those links on the other websites.
Linking in websites is a tool that is used to increase traffic by diverting the traffic on one particular website that is receiving a high amount of traffic, towards another, new website that is linked to it so as to promote the new website and alexa gives out information on that aspect of a website as well.
There are also tools that alexa offers for sale to webmasters so that they are able to increase their website traffic by effectively utilizing those tools.
More information is available on alexa for users such as a tabulation of the highest ranked websites in the world which are listed globally or w.r.t. country or category.
About The All Important Alexa Toolbar
There is also a toolbar available on alexa that can be downloaded for use with browsers and this toolbar immediately gives out relevant information about any website that is being browsed by a user at any time such as its rank and other info simply by clicking on its icon in the browser being used.
Interestingly, alexa ranks websites based on this toolbar which is used by different users the world over.
It is the alexa toolbar that is used to transmit information to alexa.com about the traffic statistics of any particular website.
This means that any of the users who have downloaded and installed the alexa toolbar on their browsers would be counted as traffic for the different websites that they visit.
However, those who have not downloaded and installed the alexa toolbar would not be counted as visitors for the different websites ranked by alexa even if they were to visit them.
Furthermore, according to alexa, if more than a single visit is made by the same visitor on to a particular website in a single day, then, it is counted as a single visit only.
Other Facts About Alexa
Additionally, it is believed that the alexa algorithm is such that it collects information about the visitors to any website over a three month period and then processes it to come up with the final numerical figure given as a rank to a website.
I believe however that that algorithm has been updated and the time period for collecting that info before a rank is given has been shortened by a huge factor now.
The lower the numeric given to any website on alexa, the higher its ranking and the more favorable it is for the website since it signifies that it is getting more and more traffic.
Webmasters also have the option of comparing their websites with other websites such as those of their competitors, by contrasting all the attributes and data of any two websites to see which categories each of the two is stronger in as compared to the other.
Another very important use of the alexa ranking is that it allows advertisers to gauge whether it is profitable to post their adverts on a particular website.
They will do this by looking-up the ranking of the subject website on alexa and then make a decision based on whether the website is getting the threshold amount of traffic for it to qualify for the advertisement campaign.
This is naturally because the higher the traffic, the greater the number of people who would click on and take a look at the adverts posted on a website and therefore, the quicker the message of the advertisers would spread around.
So, alexa has a major role to play for advertising campaigns to be approved for websites and therefore, webmasters have an immediate interest in keeping their alexa ranking high so that they can easily be eligible and finally successfully selected for marketing campaigns over their webpages.
As a result, webmasters use alexa on a daily basis to check the ranking of their websites as they strive to increase its rank, particularly the worldwide rank.
Some Disadvantages Of Using Alexa
However, as with everything else, there are disadvantages associated with the use of alexa as we will shortly see.
First, the ranking given by alexa to any particular website is based on the number of users accessing that particular website with the alexa toolbar installed on to their browsers.
This is not a reasonable benchmark since everyone does not have the alexa toolbar installed, many do not even know that a website by the name of alexa exists, so to speak of its toolbar.
Alexa and many other similar websites are mostly known to Search Engine Optimizers or Content Writers or the like, everyone is not aware of its existence and its usefulness.
As a result, the rankings given by alexa to any website are therefore highly inaccurate since there are so many internet users who visit a website or a set of websites daily but do not have the alexa toolbar installed and hence their visits are not counted when alexa ranks the websites which they frequently visit.
This is the bitter truth about the rankings given out by alexa on its website, they are highly inaccurate.
This fact is actually a major problem associated with alexa rankings and it led to some major discrepancies when alexa once ranked You Tube ahead of Google itself.
The mistake was rectified but it had its origins in the same theory of the use and non-use of the alexa toolbar.
Another problem associated with alexa is that it ranks only the home page of a website, it does not give any info about the rankings of sub-domains of a website.
It is very much possible that when a particular post on a website is a hit with the public, users are mostly directed straight to the post instead of going through the home page.
However, the higher rankings of the sub-domain are ignored by alexa, which is very strange.
This is because alexa will only rank the main page of a website and neglect the ranking of all other pages on a website.
All in all, the alexa rank is nothing more useful than a general idea of where a website stands vis-a-vis its rankings against other websites.
It is just a general idea to have in your mind and not really as accurate as you might have had thought of it at the beginning of this post!