Alexa Rank is A Vanity Metric: It Means Absolutely Nothing!

Hi SEOs,

Are you proud of your Alexa Rank? Do you show your clients what a great job you’ve done of increasing their Alexa Rank? Do you use Alexa Rank as a primary metric for measuring your performance?

Well here’s your wake-up call – YOUR ALEXA RANK MEANS NOTHING!

Nil. Nada. It is hogwash, hokum, bunkum and baloney.


Sorry if I have burst your bubble, but I am sick to death of people feeling the need to prove to me that they are SEO gurus and then showing me the crappy Alexa graph of how their Alexa Rank increased after they started working on a site.

It’s a vivid sign to me that you are not an SEO guru but rather an absolute beginner.

If you use Alexa Rank, claim to be an SEO Pro and you have paying clients, then give them their money back now and tell them that you’re a fraud.


And I’ll tell you why…

How is Alexa Rank Calculated?

First of all, the Alexa Rank of most websites is estimated. So, how do they arrive at their estimation? Their primary source of data is visits to websites by people that have one of their browser extensions installed. Most notably, the Alexa Toolbar.

Screenshot of Alexa Toolbar

Yep, this old thing. Anyone would think we were back in the nineties!

So, who exactly has this horrible thing installed in their browser? Who is in Alexa’s “sample of millions of Internet users“?

Definitely not anyone worth their salt in the SEO industry.

Most probably people that installed it accidentally and don’t know how to remove it.

Or it came pre-installed on their computers.

Or they did install it deliberately because they are too stupid to realise it is just a vanity metric.

So, you have a group of website browsers (that probably consists of everyone’s great-great-grandparents and technophobe friends) and every time they visit a website, Alexa records it as well as their pageviews and then puts the top websites in order of popularity.

Oh, and their other data source is the fools that have signed up for their premium services and have put a tracking code on their websites.

So, What Does Alexa Rank Mean?

Not much really.

It ranks the top websites visited by a small sample of people, a fair few of which are website owners that care about their Alexa Rank. The same people that are going to be pottering about on their websites every day and telling Alexa that their website is worthy.

It does not represent real-life traffic volumes.

Even if the data was accurate, it still wouldn’t be useful. How is it useful to compare your website with every other website on the Internet? You’re never going to come anywhere near to competing with Google at the number one spot (at the time of writing).

And you wouldn’t want to, either. You are not competing with every other existing website, you are only competing with the websites in your own niche. If you own a website that sells tortoise food, it does not make one iota of difference if you are high or low in Alexa’s ranking system, as long as you are maximising the visits to your website. More people are going to want to buy a mobile phone than tortoise food, so mobile phone providers are always going to outrank your tortoise food shop. Even if you had a monopoly of the tortoise food market, there simply are not more people with tortoises than phones. You will always be a lower rank. But if you’re making better money from fewer visitors, who gives a shyte?

How Do You Increase Alexa Rank?

You don’t. You don’t waste your time.

Well, I suppose if you were selling a website to some idiot that thought Alexa Rank correlated with traffic, you might want to get a better rank. Maybe. I’d like to think you’d educate them about their misguided ways and provide them with useful metrics instead. But maybe they are just stuck in their ways and want a website with good AR.

First thing you would do would be to install the Alexa Toolbar, then browse your website pretty regularly.

In fact, if you had a medium-sized development team and got them all to install the Alexa Toolbar whilst working on a website project, you would see that website’s Alexa Rank shoot up (or down, I suppose, as lower numbers are better).

Next, perhaps sign up for one of Alexa’s premium services and install the tracking code on the website.

Then maybe see if there is a gig on fivrr or legiit for manipulating Alexa Rank. I’ve not checked this but it wouldn’t surprise if somebody could offer this service.

If Alexa Rank Stinks So Bad, What Website Metrics Are Good?

Well, it all depends on your goals, but the most important metric for a website for me is profit. How much a website has left after it has paid its expenses.

Revenue may be another useful metric, however it can be misleading without looking at all the financial figures. If a website’s revenue is £10,000 per month, it may sound good but if it also has expenditure of £11,000 monthly, it’s probably not a good investment.

But that’s financials. What about traffic metrics? Visits per day/month can be captured through any good analytics program. You probably also want to look at what visitors do when they hit your website to see if you make more money out of them. Bounce rate, time on site and even recording video of their actions using software such as Hotjar can be very useful.

These are REAL metrics. Metrics that mean something. Metrics that can help you to improve your website. Metrics that measure your success. And because you are collecting the data yourself, it is ACCURATE.

Other useful metrics include your Google rankings over time for the particular keywords you are targeting as well as your click-through rate from the SERPs.

Rant Over

There you have it. Alexa Rank is useless. It means nothing and there is no reason to pay any attention to it.

In fact, stop paying attention to it and it will hopefully go away eventually.

And don’t get me started on Moz’s Domain Authority (DA)….

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