Managing and providing content for a business blog already involves a dizzying array of metrics: traffic rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, the all-important SERPs or search engine results pages where many a battle for keyword dominance has been fought. There’s also page rank, mozrank, domain authority rank, etc. With so much to focus on, why should you even care about your Alexa Rank- especially since there are some well-known problems with this website ranking system?
What is Alexa?
In brief, Alexa is a company that measures the web traffic for almost every website on the internet. Their traffic ranking system is based on a metric which combines daily page views and user traffic over a period of three months. The biggest problem many have with Alexa is that their data comes exclusively from those who have installed the Alexa Toolbar on their browsers. This means that visitors to your site who do not have this plugin will not be recorded. Alexa then uses the data it collects from it’s toolbar users and derives its ranking by making calculated assumptions. In other words, they give you their best guesstimate of what your traffic is.
By their own admission, the ranking for sites over 100,000 should not be considered accurate. If you want to check out Alexa’s own description of how their ranking works, it can be found here and here.
Why Business Bloggers Should Pay Attention to their Alexa Score
Lately, I have been experimenting with different forms of monetization on The Frugal Entrepreneur. The minute I began to seriously wade into this area, the topic of having a good Alexa score was practically unavoidable. The reason is that the majority of advertisers consider a site’s Alexa score when deciding which sites to advertise on and how much they are willing to pay. I therefore spent some time researching what Alexa is, why I should even care about it (since I haven’t really up until this point), and how I could go about improving my score. My take away is that while Alexa may not be an accurate reflection of a site’s traffic nor worth, nevertheless, there are many instances when you shouldn’t ignore it either:
- Advertising- If your blog is your business such that your income comes from advertisers and affiliate marketing, or you would like to generate additional income from your business blog by hosting outside advertisers, you may have a harder time making money the further your site is from the top 100,000.
- Selling your blog- If you ever plan on selling your site, your Alexa score is one metric that adds value. Even though many webmasters and website flippers may not place much value in Alexa as a website ranking system, the reality is that a website that is in the top 100,000 will have an easier time attracting advertisers, as I said above, which means more money can be made from the site. This is where the added value comes in since the new owner will have an easier time making a return on the investment.
- Perceptions- Alexa is not the only target of webmaster criticism; Google’s widely regarded page rank is also considered outdated and inaccurate. The problem, however, is in the perception. Whether you like it or not, a site with a high page rank and a strong Alexa score will be perceived by many visitors as more important then a site that does not score as well- even if the content on the latter is better. These metrics are a kind of “domain authority proof.” If the site is for a business, then this perception only increases. Just ask yourself, would you do business with an established site that only has a page rank of 1 or 2, and an Alexa score of say, 1,362,690?
The Best, Legitimate Tips to Improve Your Blog’s Alexa Ranking
It is pretty obvious that Alexa rankings are skewed towards those who would be more likely to have the toolbar. That means just providing good content and working to increase traffic may not be enough to significantly improve your Alexa rank. That said, how can busy business bloggers go about directly increasing their Alexa scores?
I found some really good information along the way that I am working on implementing; what follows is a summary of all the good stuff as well as a few of my own ideas. Just keep in mind that increasing your score legitimately will take some work. It will show on your site, however, and that will bring with it many additional benefits. But if you are strapped for time and resources, I’ll also bring some ways that people can “game the system” a bit to help give them a boost in rankings:
1. Join or create an Alexa blog network. Partnering up with other bloggers is a great way to increase your site’s rank (It’s a good traffic and page rank builder as well). Not only can you regularly visit each others sites with the toolbar installed, but you can send each other targeted traffic. The blog network can be an informal group of three to five bloggers, or you can try to organize something bigger and more systematic. If you happen to be a serious personal finance or lifestyle blogger, then I highly recommend trying to get accepted into the Yakezie Network.
2. Write targeted content. Many articles on how to increase your Alexa score note that webmasters and bloggers are the ones who will be most likely to have the toolbar installed. This makes sense since they are the ones who know and care about Alexa. They also point out that sites dealing with technology, blogging, SEO, website management and design tend to do better at Alexa. These same articles then suggest that you write on topics related to these subjects.
Sounds great, except what if your site is about pet care or art? I recommend that you don’t move too far away from the normal themes and subjects of your blog. You need to figure out who within your readership would be most likely to have the toolbar and then try to target these people with appropriate content. For example, the pet care site could run a series of posts on how to use the Internet to find good discounts on pet supplies or tools and resources to create a website for your pet care business. Bottom line: don’t try to reach outside of your usual readership with unrelated, unfamiliar topics. It may turn away your loyal readers.
3. Guest post and comment on sites where webmasters go. Continuing with the theme of targeting toolbar totting webmasters, instead of making them come to you, you could go to them by guest posting and commenting on sites that cater to webmasters and bloggers. Just make sure to include some good links to back to your site. If you take the commenting route then make the effort to write a few good, relevant comments. Preferably you want to write a comment that either makes readers want to know who you are or that creates a “teaser” for them to come visit your site. You can do this by adding a unique, valuable point and then mentioning that more information can be found on your site.
4. Write something about Alexa. Depending on the nature of your site, you could try to specifically write up a post on Alexa traffic ranking or find a way to tie it in to your content. One suggestion would be to write a post on how you are trying to increase your Alexa ranking and what steps you are taking to do that. You could then write follow-up posts detailing your progress. Not only could such posts drive the right kind of traffic to your site, but you can also use them as a platform to enlist the help of your readers (see below) in securing a good Alexa ranking.
5. Create targeted ads. You could experiment with highly targeted ads via Adwords or on LinkedIn as well as buying ad space on webmaster forums. This can be a very lucrative strategy because it will help to ensure that targeted, interested traffic is coming to your site.
6. Enlist the help of your readers. Offer your readers an incentive to download the toolbar and leave a review. You could, for example, offer them a useful, free ebook. Ask your peers to leave a review as well.
7. Offer tools or resources for webmasters.You don’t have to be an app developer or an SEO expert to have something that would be of value to a subgroup of webmasters. In the case of the pet care website, you could offer free pet photos that bloggers could use on their sites, or create a free list of pet-related online resources.
“Gaming the System” to Get a Better Alexa Score
8. Counting your own visits. Alexa doesn’t make a distinction between the website owner and other visitors, so you can download the toolbar and use it on multiple devices when you visit your own site. If there are several computers at work then put it on all of them as well, asks friends and family to also check in from time to time.
9. Autoserfs and traffic exchanges. The jury is out whether these services will actually help your Alexa ranking. But, there are many people who swear by them. From my own cursory look, I would use them with caution. I also suggest refraining from relying on them should your site near the top 100,000.
10. Hiring people to check in to your site. With all the pay for quick gigs sites out there, such as Fiverr and Amazon Mechanical Turk, it would be pretty easy to just hire a few people who have downloaded the Alexa toolbar to just show up on your site and maybe click on a few pages here and there. From my own experience with Alexa, even a few extra visits on a daily basis can significantly boost your ranking.
11. And… contrary to popular belief, installing the Alexa widget on your website on its own does not significantly improve your score! Just check out this post on Alexa’s blog. You could, however, display it in the hopes that interested visitors will click on it, thus spending more time on your site and hopefully increasing page views.