Understanding Alexa Ratings: A Grading System for Websites

As you get more comfortable with posting and promoting your blog, some questions will come up:

  • How does my site rate against others like it?
  • Who is coming to my site?
  • Where are they coming from?

These are great questions to ask and can help you formulate goals for your blog if you don’t already have them.  Now, if you want to get really serious, I suggest becoming a master in Google Analytics.  But to start simple, try using Alexa.

What Is Alexa?

According to their about section, Alexa started in 1996 as a web analytics, navigation, and intelligence company.  They also produced a toolbar for people to get this information straight from their browser, which has been downloaded millions of times.  They continue to index and rank sites based on number of visitors and page views.  Whoever has the most wins.

And this is where Alexa can get confusing.  What does it mean to be ranked in the millions?  What about the 10,000s?  Of course the top 100 is self explanatory, but what follows is a grading system I use for myself to put Alexa numbers in context.  It runs from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

10 – top 100

9 – top 1K and 100
8 – btw 10K and 1K
7 – btw10K and 50K
6- btw 50K and 100K
5 – btw 100K and 500K
4 – btw 1M and 500K
3 – btw 1M and 10M
2 – btw 100M and 10M
1 – over 100M or not ranked

Rather than saying a website is ranked 5,556,000 I can say “it is a 3.”  On this scale of 1-10 it gives you a pretty quick idea of where it stands.

Using Alexa to Improve Your Site

The best thing Alexa can be used for is seeing where you stand in comparison with other sites and then setting goals for getting your ranking higher.  It provides a way to measure progress for a website that is trying to increase in visitors and links in that takes you out of the fishbowl of your own site.  Too many times we get caught up at looking at our site statistics in a vacuum.  Alexa takes you out of isolation and puts your site up there with all the others.  Once you see where you stand in relation to other sites, set those goals for yourself.

A word of caution: boosting Alexa ratings can become an addiction.  As we’ll talk about in a few days, site traffic is not always as valuable as loyal traffic.  If you have 100 loyal fans that would buy whatever you put out there, an Alexa grade of 2 by our chart, but are making money off of your loyal fan base, more power to you.  The key is to help that loyal fan base grow rather than trying to get your blog seen by everyone.

How are you measuring your own website?  Do you use Alexa, Google Analytics or some other tool?

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