Stephen Ostermiller's Blog

Myth: Alexa rank can be used to judge which sites have good SEO

Some website owners put a lot of stock in their Alexa rank. They hope that improving their Alexa rank will help their SEO. That just isn't the case.

How Alexa rank is measured

Alexa computes its ranking from users that have the Alex browser toolbar installed. These users send data about which sites they visit to Alexa. Only a small fraction of people contribute their data to Alexa rankings. That skews the rankings in some significant ways:

  • Alexa toolbar users tend to be less internet savvy. They are the kind of users that will install spyware such as the Alexa toolbar. Sites that don't attract that kind of user are likely to have a worse Alexa ranking because of it.
  • Because Alexa doesn't collect data from most users, the rankings are fairly meaningless beyond the top hundred thousand sites. There is effectively no difference between an Alexa ranking of 1 million and 2 million.
  • Sites with a good Alexa ranking get their traffic from a variety of sources, not just from search engines. Many top sites get a significant amount of their traffic from advertising and branding. Being at the top of the Alexa rankings doesn't mean that a site has good SEO.
  • It is possible to game the Alexa rankings by installing the toolbar. Even installing the toolbar yourself can help your own sites ranking as you visit. It doesn't take many friends, family, or users to your site that install the toolbar to make a difference.

Google doesn't use Alexa ranking

Google and other search engines don't base their rankings on Alexa scores. Getting a better Alexa ranking doesn't help you get more search engine traffic. Getting a better Alexa ranking just isn't worth it from an SEO perspective. Doing so won't being in additonal search engine visitors.

This article was written as part of a series about SEO myths.

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