While reading and watching the SBI Action Guide, I was completely convinced of my ability to build a profitable website. - Svetlana Rubejov, SBI! member since 2012

Don’t Miss Out on These Valuable Uses for Alexa

Don’t Miss Out on These Valuable Uses for Alexa

Yesterday we established the basics of how Alexa works, and why there’s been so much misinformation over the years. With today’s article, you’re about to see some eye-opening indicators of just how useful Alexa really can be for you.

The Definitive Guide to Alexa Traffic Rankings

Part 1: Alexa Basics and Mythbusting
Part 2: Don’t Miss Out on These Valuable Uses for Alexa (You Are Here)
Part 3: What Else Is Alexa Great For? Influencer Marketing
Part 4: When Not to Use Alexa!
Part 5: How to Spot Schemes and Fake Reviews

Let’s put aside, just for a moment, the fact that statements about Alexa only using a “single toolbar” have been wrong since 2008.

The conclusion of “useless” has convinced millions not to use it. However, even if it still depended on a single toolbar, it has always been a simple and valid way to measure the popularity of a site when you are…

  • comparing 2 or more sites from the same niche.
  • checking to see if a site’s traffic is rising or falling, and how that compares to your site.
  • getting a “quick fix” estimate on any site for any reason (e.g., big-picture truth-check, or simple curiosity).
  • evaluating a site’s commercial potential (e.g., ads, joint ventures, etc.).
  • seeking potential influencers to build relationships.
  • finding potential super-affiliates.

Let’s take a closer look.

#1 and #2 Most Alexa reviews, before or after 2008, failed to note that Alexa’s most useful function was to compare your own site with that of another from your niche, or even to get a fix on where you stand within your entire niche.

#3 The third use can be helpful to get a “big picture” test of reasonableness for a single site. A marketer with something to sell (e.g., ads) might claim that he get 10,000 visitors per day. When you find a ranking of 5,000,000 at Alexa for that site, you can be 99.9% sure he’s lying.

If you’re really keen, use SimilarWeb (SW) to add that last bit of certainty. With a single, free check, Alexa has saved you time, money and the usual ugly ending when dealing with a liar! You’ll be amazed at how brazen some folks are. You’ll also be wiser for the experience! 🦉

A Reminder

After 2008, most Alexa.com reviews fail to recognize the elimination of niche bias. That is a big omission, but it’s almost irrelevant because…

  1. comparison with a site in your own niche is not impacted by niche bias
  2. you should never use Alexa to track your own traffic — use Google Analytics or any software that analyzes your log files for that (those numbers will always be exact)
  3. you should, just to be extra-safe, be careful with Alexa scores from “savvy niches” (for use #3).

#4-6 The last three uses are “single-site evaluations.” Here’s how to be OK with that:

  1. You’re seeking out high-traffic sites, meaning the Alexa ranking is more reliable. As you use Alexa more and more, you’ll develop a strong frame of reference for what is outstanding traffic in your niche vs. “not worth pursuing.”
  2. You can still get an excellent fix on a site by comparing it with other sites in the identical niche. For example, if your niche is “Caribbean cruises” and you want to put an ad on a site about Anguilla, compare with other sites to find the range. If you find the site to be an extreme outlier (way above any others), be careful. Although manipulation of Alexa is rare, it’s not impossible.
Sidebar: Some reviews claim that Alexa can be manipulated. That’s far more difficult since 2008. I have seen no credible, verifiable cases of that in the past few years. However, if a surprisingly high Alexa count surprises you, cross-checking with SW and SEMrush will help.
  1. Use all three methods to maximize reliability and to determine how much traffic is organic search (which is generally higher quality).

Naturally, once there’s a deal to be made, you’ll want to take considerably more time to insist on seeing Google Analytics proof. But no doubt about it, Alexa definitely has its place in your toolbox when screening sites for potential opportunities.

Let’s use two examples to see how comparison-checking makes “niche bias” irrelevant:

  1. a website about sailing the Caribbean
  2. a blog that specializes on a niche within Internet Marketing — “link-building.”

Both webmasters would tend to compare themselves to competitors. If you own a sailing site, you won’t care to see how it compares to a site about link-building. Since there’s no value in comparing unrelated sites, it’s a low probability case. So the risk of bias, if it exists at all in a particular niche, is basically zero. Just don’t get sucked into inter-niche comparisons.

A comparison of two sites in the same niche may show that:

  1. one site (e.g., yours!) or blog is more popular than a(ll) competitor(s)
  2. it’s gaining on a competitor, extending a lead (or behind but catching up).

Since the niche bias (if any) is the same for the two sites being compared, the conclusions are both valid and useful. Even pre-2008, if an Internet Marketing site (high niche bias) compared itself to another marketing site, for example, it could draw reasonable conclusions (they were both similarly over-rated pre-2008).

Sidebar: There have been at least 3 periods where over-rated niches had sudden losses at Alexa. One was when they changed to 25,000 sources. The others were most likely algorithmic. Again, there’s no reason to care about your own Alexa ranking. Use GA or other direct measurement tools for your own site.

Pre-2008 Recommendations for Using Alexa

It’s a shame that most reviews from 1996-2008 focused on bias issues, and not as much on the valid and valuable strategies to use. Since most Internet Marketing bloggers create content for others in their niche, they may have not considered how useful some strategies would be for “regular, everyday” niches.

Offering good strategies during the 12 years prior to 2008 could have gone a long way toward preventing the widespread negative impressions.

The simple pre-2008 suggestions by reviewers should have been

  1. Use Google Analytics if you want to know your own traffic.
  2. Use Alexa to compare your own traffic to that of a site in your niche and/or to see if a competitor’s traffic is going up or down. How does your trend line compare?
  3. Know about the bias. If your niche is Internet-savvy, Alexa will ascribe higher traffic than reality. That said, if your niche is particularly unsavvy, it may under-report traffic (e.g., Newfoundland farmers — sorry, that’s a Canadian joke ).
  4. The greater your Alexa ranking, the greater the range of error (true pre- and post-2008). Still, it’s useful for big picture estimations of competitor sites. If your Alexa ranking was 20,000,000 and someone else’s was 10,000,000, neither of you was getting much traffic. But if that other site was at 1,000,000, s/he was definitely doing much better.

All of that would have been valuable information to solopreneurs. It would have helped everyone get the most out of Alexa, while keeping their eyes open to avoid bias.

If you start using Alexa, you’ll soon find yourself doing many daily checks. Why is that so important?
Internet Dog

On the Internet,
nobody knows you’re a dog.

Remember this famous cartoon from The New Yorker? Published in 1993, it’s just as relevant today as then.

Sure, privacy has virtually disappeared since then. But average users of the Web still have no idea of whether a true expert is communicating with them…

Or a dog.

“So what?” you may ask. Consider this…

Whether you’re searching for influencers, estimating where you stand in your niche, or have yet to succeed online, objective measurements say it all.

It’s useful to know whether you’re reading an expert in social media, say, whose work is widely read, or someone who is a total unknown who claims to be popular.

Speaking of Claims of Success

Verifying track records of so-called “success stories” is invaluable. For example…

Go to Wix.com and review their success stories. The first two we checked had Alexa rankings of 8,000,000 and 13,000,000. That’s “success”?

Compare that to Solo Build It! claims of success…

The definition of success should not be “putting up a stunning website,” with the implication that business success follows automatically. It’s about building income and equity.

Since most private individuals don’t want their actual income splashed publicly, the best public evidence of success for the majority of online businesses is traffic. You can’t earn if you don’t have visitors.

And Alexa (with or without SimilarWeb and SEMrush) shows you traffic. Any individual measurement may be a bit higher or lower than reality, but 500 sites evens out / averages out to undeniable proof.

Traffic translates into income. That is especially true for SBIers. The Solo Build It! Action Guide leads solopreneurs through steps to select, verify and plan the monetization modules they’ll use, before even developing their perfect, brandable domain name.

Checking “success stories” cuts through the chatter and glitter. Wix may have Jason Statham and Super Bowl ads, but we’ve got Alexa and her two cousins.

Seriously, all that matters is the answer to the only question that matters…

“Which company is most likely to enable me to succeed online?”

No matter what niche you’re in, Alexa is invaluable when you’re trying to figure out who’s lying and who delivers the goods.

A high Alexa ranking for your niche with good quality indicators (bounce, time on site and number of pages) indicates an all-star site. SW adds assurance. SEMrush helps you break down traffic sources (which you can cross-check on Alexa and SW). Anytime you can get that much useful information, for free, you’re living large!

Sadly, all that was mostly ignored. That “bias of a single toolbar” rendered it “useless” in way too many reviews during Alexa’s early years. Its usefulness was never well covered (except by us <ahem> — early versions of that page hit most of the same key points back in 2005).

The points that should have been emphasized by all were the 4 pre-2008 uses (outlined above). At SiteSell, we have used Alexa, all 6 ways, many times per day — for nearly 20 years.

As you use it, you’ll understand it and come up with ways that make sense for your business.  For example, here are two other important ways that we use it…

  1. Many sitebuilders (e.g., Weebly, Wix) emphasize how gorgeous their sites are. We agree that it’s important to make a good first impression. But while our sitebuilder can deliver stunners, too, you don’t need to look sensational to win.
  2. It’s more important to match site design with voice and a “Valuable PREselling Proposition.”

    Compare the traffic of our success stories with sites built with other sitebuilders. Pick their most stunning, solopreneur-built sites. There are countless examples of “gorgeous” sites with abysmal Alexa traffic rankings. So we’ll stick with what we teach in the SBI! Action Guide:

    It’s more important to match site design with voice and a “Valuable PREselling Proposition.”

  1. We’re approached by many serious (i.e., expensive) consultants who claim that they build traffic for companies of our size. They usually claim a unique approach and great success. If we let them, they’d talk until we’re all comatose. Instead, we just ask them for two bits of information:
    • Summary (2 pages, maximum) of what they do, and how they do it, along with a clear statement that they do not violate any of Google’s guidelines, and would be held liable if they do.
    • 5 references.

    We file the summary and do not call the references.

    Instead, we check their domain names at Alexa, SW and SEMrush. None have demonstrated sustained traffic results that were large enough to spend any more time investigating. That’s a fast way to get to the online bottom line that matters!

So let’s cut to the chase…

Alexa Is a Wonderful BS Detector

And on that note, we have a third special use for Alexa, here at SiteSell. It’s a new approach because we recently discovered a competitor who teaches its affiliates to write fake reviews.

We devised a way to match all of its sites against Alexa rankings. Now, if we encounter a competitor that claims to deliver high-traffic websites for solopreneurs, we can check that, right down to the last site.

This aggressive “make money” competitor pushes its customers to go into “make money” niches to create “make money” sites to promote their “make money” product. They create hundreds of reviews that give SBI! poor to mediocre to good marks.

It does not really matter what rating any review gives us because…

  1. the reviews are under-researched, based on previous reviews, which were based on previous reviews.
  2. their “#1 recommendation” (those exact words) all end up being that other company.

They have so many people trying to lure good folks with BAM that some reviews are bound to show up in search results. We don’t like losing people we might have helped. What’s worse, though…

Someone with BAM could have succeeded with us, building a wonderful, real business about a passion. Instead, s/he gets fooled by a fake review (several of them, more likely) and soon s/he, too, is putting up a “make money” site with fake reviews.

It’s a classic “buy the product then promote the product” scheme.

Their affiliates all talk about success because if the owners say it countless times (and they do), it must be true, right?

No, not really.

The “make money online” arena is full of sharp marketers and shady competitors. If you can trick hundreds of people into competing with the same limited number of reviews, the real winner is the company.

I can’t imagine luring good people into bad opportunities, into the demoralizing “make money” space. About 20 of their affiliates account for most of the search results.

The rest, and that’s almost everyone, must fail. Luring people away from a rewarding SBI! experience, building a real business, does a disservice to solopreneurs.

We simply cannot see how their customers could win.

But we can’t just say that. Sure, we give tons of proof of success, while they give none. They talk a lot about “making money,” but that’s it.

So where’s the proof?

The Irony of SBI!’s Superiority

Unlike that company, where the whole motivation is to promote the product, SBIers create outstanding, original content about everyday niches.

They are not about online business-building. They are online business-building.

Some write very moving stories in their About Me pages. But here’s the problem…

Someone searching for information about a Caribbean island is not about to start a business online. So the conversion rate will be low.

That means there’s no financial reason to write about SBI!. The very success of enabling people to create real businesses with genuine, long-term success is the polar opposite of what the “make money” company has structured.

We need to figure that one out!

Meanwhile, though, our first question about this company was…

How Well Do These “Make Money” Folks Do?

We needed to create a BS detector on a much bigger scale. So we did. We’ll be reporting on that shortly (and how you can do the same study). Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the answer to two important questions…

How well does that company actually do for its customers? Are their affiliates offering good advice or bad? Answer…

It has only 53 customers in the Top 1,000,000 at Alexa. We have 697. And they have 70% more sites than us!

This graph shows the breakdown of how many sites each of us has in each grouping of 100,000 at Alexa, up to 1,0000,000, followed by a 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 group.

We’re blue — they’re red. Again, the difference is bigger than it appears because they have 70% more websites than we do! The SBI! Advantage is overwhelming.

In case you’re wondering about the failure rates, we see the exact opposite pattern. They have 400% more sites that are greater than 30 million at Alexa (abject failure, zero traffic, “Not enough traffic data”) than we do.

I doubt if you’ll ever use Alexa at this scale, but we’ll be publishing the full results, along with how to do this study for any business vs. Solo Build It!. Watch for that post by joining the SiteSell Community.

Do Their Affiliates Understand How They’re Being Used? We’ll Find Out Soon

The competitor that teaches its affiliates to create reviews against products such as Solo Build It! has crossed an ethical line. The affiliates probably do not know the truth when the company instructs them on whom to recommend because, after all, they “must be the best!”

Cookie-cutter reviews that mislead visitors could not be farther away from our philosophy of creating content that OVERdelivers on search intent, serving the best interests of the visitors.

We’ll be revealing the name of that unscrupulous company, along with the full study, shortly. Needless to say, we dominate the success end of Alexa. It dominates the abject failures end.

Some affiliates may believe what they’re recommending. The owners are very convincing. Others may know the truth and not care.

We’re hoping that this causes the former to question whether they want to continue offering false information. This is not the way to build a long-term business, one that will generate growing income while also building equity.

This, by the way, is where Alexa studies are at their most accurate…

While any single Alexa ranking for a site may be higher or lower than reality, it’s reliable enough, within a certain ballpark (we discuss the 7 ballparks below).

When we look at the rankings of 500 sites, as we do on our Results page, the number of sites and the higher accuracy of high-traffic sites sharpens the conclusion beyond argument.

But this new study is at a whole new level. The more high-traffic sites that are in a study, the greater the accuracy and statistical reliability.

This new study of more than 10,000 sites is the most accurate yet, by far. The difference in success rate is…

  1. huge, and
  2. accurate.

Trust But VerifyWhat’s the Takeaway here? Don’t believe what you read. There are some incredibly elaborate schemes online. This one takes the cake!

That doesn’t mean you must become cynical and suspicious.

Go ahead and trust…

But verify.

Cut through all the noise and insist on verifiable proof. Domain names serve that purpose. Providing more detailed stories, so realistic that they simply “must be true,” is not proof.

It’s just a talented copywriter who is excellent at selling you. So again, ignore all that.

Use Alexa (and/or SW and/or SEMrush) to discover how a site is really doing. You save a lot of reading, time and grief by doing a little digging.

Don’t believe the claims — not until you have checked them.

Ignore the Words: Numbers Don’t Lie

If you can’t verify certain claims made by a business because no domain names are provided for so-called “success stories,” don’t believe the claims. It’s as simple as that, but it’s easier said than done.

Has this ever happened to you? You encounter a wonderfully written “make money” site that strikes just the right tone. Just as you reach the “wanting to believe” stage, inspirational testimonials are added to the copy. You ignore the fact that they’re from people like “John Bullmouth from Boston, Mass.”

Even successful bloggers and coaches like Leslie Samuel can become enamoured with the message:

Then come the more detailed success stories, wonderful stories. They aren’t the typical “How I Made $4,000,000 Working Just 20 Minutes a Night.”

No, I’m talking about the ones that sound so real, they simply “must be.” Heck, you want them to be true. But if you stop right at that moment and look around, you realize that it could be just as made up as the “$4,000,000 Overnight” scams. The only difference is style.

That is the moment when you must remember to ask…

“Where’s the verifiable proof?”

It’s easy to make stuff up. The inclusion of loads of detail, both business and personal, can be really convincing.

But why include all that, and not the domain name? Why indeed!

There’s never a valid reason to leave out the domain name. Loud alarm bells should ring in your head when you can’t verify.

I’ve seen so many tricks from “make money” schemes in the past 20 years. In my first year of SiteSell, I even bought an e-book that promised me all the “insider secrets to being a world-class affiliate manager.” I printed it out, highlighter pen ready to go.

I didn’t highlight a single line. In retrospect, they had not provided a single site as proof. But I really loved the author and his copy!

Companies that can’t prove a claim will skip over any mention, hoping that their huge affiliate base will convince you with cookie-cutter reviews and articles. Or they will include the use of full names with email addresses. Few will check — and guess who you reach if you do contact that “real” person? If you answered “company employee,” you’re starting to see “the dark side.”

So insist on domain names. You simply can’t beat the provision of the name. You can verify plenty of details if you have a domain name, but the most important thing you can do is to use Alexa to check site traffic.

Sure, any sitebuilder company would be able to show you a few successes. But when you see a mid-sized company like ours showing you 500 sites in Alexa’s Top 1,000,000 (all cross-checked with actual traffic), that sets the bar pretty high for anyone else. And when you see us beating an unscrupulous competitor 697 to 53 (in the Top Million), even though they have 70% more active sites, that’s overwhelming, factual proof.

No criticism of Alexa can overcome that, especially when the data is even more compelling for SW and Alexa (sign up for that report here).

At the end of the day, insist on proof, and not just 1 or 2 domain names. If they claim to help you succeed, ask for as much proof as possible, coming at it from every angle.

We try to make the decision obvious for the rational person. We can’t promise that SBI! is right for you, so we also include a 90-day “Confidence of success” guarantee.

Think about it from our point of view for a second…

If YOU ran a business that enables solopreneurs to succeed, and if you knew you did it better than anyone, wouldn’t you prove it every way possible?

Unfortunately, here’s the truth…

bullshit detectorEven the largest companies in the world have flat-out lied. Surely smaller businesses might. So ignore the sales copy, even screenshots/scans…

  1. Google Analytics screenshots can be doctored. So can “scans” of big checks and PayPal balances.
  2. High traffic claims can be outright lies.

But it’s hard to carry off if you have the domain name. If a blogger claims to get 1,000,000 visitors per day, s/he’s lying if the Alexa rank is over 1,000,000. If a site provides 5 stunning websites as examples of success, but their Alexa ranks are all over 10,000,000, that’s not success.

Most people tend to believe that everyone else is honest. And most of us, thankfully, are. But “make money” tends to attract frauds in search of marks.

So yes, believe it. Some people lie. The “make money” space is notorious for shady dealing. They excel at writing convincing copy that separates you from your money. The dark side of affiliate marketing does the rest of the work.

By the way, we have no problem with convincing sales copy that supports affiliate marketing, if it can be backed up by verifiable proof. That’s rare, though.

The easiest way to discover the truth is to ignore all the words (even ours), and insist upon verifiable PROOF of success.

If you don’t get it, move on. There’s a reason why we provide all this proof

It’s because we can.

The Essence of the Message?

It’s YOUR future that’s at stake — make sure you take it seriously. Do your homework.

If a business claims to enable you to succeed, insist on proof that YOU can check. After all, there are too many people who are willing to lie to take your money.  

Once you develop the habit of checking, you’ll get a strong sense of what’s true and what has a strong odor. 🐂 💩 In short….

This article will help you develop a foolproof “BS Detector.”

The 7 Ballparks — How Best to Use Alexa

You don’t have to do the type of big studies that we did.

Use Alexa daily, the way the team here at SiteSell does. I use Alexa.com’s tool many times each day, as a first-pass check to see how popular sites are doing (ballpark!) and if they are growing or contracting. I use it, too, to check claims, to assess potential influencers, or simply to satisfy my curiosity. It provides me “good enough” qualitative ballpark estimates…

Most of the time, all I want to know is which of 7 ballparks a site’s traffic falls into…

  • Outstanding (less than 100,000)
  • Excellent (100,000 – 1,000,000)
  • Pretty good (1,000,000 to 2,500,000)
  • Medium (2,500,000 to 5,000,000)
  • Poor (5,000,000 to 20,000,000)
  • Bad (greater than 20,000,000)
  • Invisible (“Not enough traffic data”)

Note 1: Few solopreneurs make it into the top ballpark (0-100,000). Almost all “Outstanding” Alexa rankings come from mid-sized to large businesses. At the other end of the spectrum, almost 100% of the “Bad” and “Invisible” ballparks are solopreneurs.

Note 2: “Not enough traffic data” means that Alexa’s massive panel of toolbars, extensions, pixel installs and third-party sources has 0 data points for a site. Basically, it’s “Invisible.” Greater than 20,000,000 is “Bad” — not far from zero.

Note 3: The ballparks are snapshots, not judgments. Consider these ranges in light of your circumstances and especially in light of your actual traffic. For example…

  • If you just finished writing the home page of a brand new site, “Invisible” is normal.
  • If your site is young and growing, an Alexa rank of 10,000,000 may be excellent for you.
  • If you have a mature site with 30 pages and a rank of 5,000,000, that can be excellent if you have a high-dollar monetization model (e.g., selling Hollywood homes).

I use Alexa, too, to get an idea of whether that traffic is growing, staying about even, or dropping, over a meaningful period of time. Why don’t I compare it against any other site?

I don’t need to compare a site if it’s in our niche, nor do you. Presumably, you’d already have a frame of reference — you know what’s high, medium and low. If you don’t have the framework yet, you will soon if you make Alexa a regular habit.

When you need greater granularity (including traffic stated in terms of number of visitors) or certainty (e.g., when it’s especially important or when the Alexa score seems “off” from what you expected), add two more sources…

SEMrush.com provides a solid indication of organic search traffic. The screenshot shows an organic reach of 418 from Google Italy. You can select by country (US is the default) and Desktop vs. Mobile.

We suggest you leave “US” & “desktop” as defaults. Assume that the rest all follow along. Of course, if you really want an idea of mobile numbers, or if you have reason to believe that the site is especially strong in a particular country, check it.

But be careful. You can spend hours in here if you let SEMrush do that to you!

The SEMrush graph below (Google U.S.) indicates slow growth of search traffic (blue) over the past 2 years (2Y), with rapid growth over the most recent 5 months. It also shows minimal purchase of keywords at Google (orange)….

SEMrush graph

SimilarWeb is more like Alexa, except it uses a wider set of sources and ISP-based traffic data. Click the link and enter the domain name. The data points are similar to what Alexa delivers. We’ll focus on total traffic (i.e., search plus all other sources).

Alexa and SW sample users of the Web differently. That makes them more valuable when used together than either one used alone. It doesn’t matter which you use, Alexa or SW, as your “go-to reflex.” SW may be a bit more accurate due to the inclusion of ISP data.

Whichever you choose as your “go-to,” add the other when you want greater accuracy and certainty. One special example would be when your “first-pass” seems wrong. If it’s much higher or lower than you expected, add the other. If it confirms the surprise, you can be more confident in the number. If they contradict each other, consider averaging the two and let SEMrush help…

Combining all three into a single, final impression provides the most accurate and granular snapshot of a site. It also gives you an estimate of traffic sources. For example…

  • If both Alexa and SW show high total traffic, but SEMrush is low, you know that the site must be generating high volumes of traffic in other, non-search ways. Perhaps the site features a highly used tool. Or social media may be sending a ton of traffic.
  • On the other hand, if total traffic is intermediate but SEMrush is high, that site depends largely on search (a conclusion that you can cross-check elsewhere on Alexa and SW).

We’ll get into more valid uses of the tools shortly. First, though, let’s go back to “Myth and Miss.” If you happen to see reviews that disagree with this, please point them to this article. I will be happy to answer any questions regarding this post (in the comments below). On that note…

We have read many reviews of Alexa. There are so many misinformed/misinforming articles that they can be categorized into types…

  1. Reviewer may have an excellent grasp of most or all concepts, but falls short of suggesting the valid how/when/why to use these tools.
  2. Reviewer does not have a firm grasp of statistics and how to account for sampling errors inherent in any such system. They want indirect measures to magically be as accurate as direct ones (such as GA) when investigating sites they do not own.

That’s not possible — if you don’t have direct access to all sites’ raw data or if you can’t put a snippet of code (such as GA code) on all pages of your site, you simply cannot have exact data for all websites. Google will never report this private data to others.

Instead, Alexa, SEMrush and SimilarWeb approach the same challenge differently. They all, though, simulate/sample user behavior and extrapolate the raw data to approximate reality. For most purposes, that’s fine. Often, a single metric will deliver what you want.

Suggestion: Get over the fact that they can’t be as accurate as GA. No one is arguing that they’re more exact. Once you can accept that, use them for what they do deliver.

  1. Reviewer does not want (or know) to suggest cross-checking with 2 or all 3 free traffic measurement tools. When used together, you can often get an excellent thumbnail estimate of a site’s traffic (total, search and other).
  2. Reviewer does not know this subject well enough and/or has not dug deep enough. She does not have access to enough sites to derive the best conclusions possible. Instead, s/he depends on other reviews. You get a derivative review, not original work.
  3. Reviewer has a vested interest in discounting Alexa, such as…
    • not wanting to admit he was wrong earlier
    • writing fake reviews of Internet marketing or online business-building products. By discrediting Alexa, he can make more money by recommending inferior products (that pay higher commissions) without providing any proof of success.

The “fake review” reason (5b) only occurs in the “make money” / Internet marketing / online-business space. This type of review makes no attempt to provide you with good uses of these tools. There are often factual errors, and/or ridicule about Alexa, even anger about those who “don’t get it.”

“Ridicule” is easy to use. It fools many because indirect systems will always have some measurements that are “off.” All a “vested review” has to do is find a few that are off, then represent these few cases as reality.

Conclusion? “Alexa is useless.”

It’s dishonest or dumb (one or the other) to pick on a few “high-scatter anecdotes” to “prove” that an entire system is not reliable. Even a medium-size sample shows a definite correlation (see this detailed study).

The takeaway here is that neither bias nor scatter invalidates the ballpark strategies. In any event, even when there’s some bias and scatter, you’ll still be in the right ballpark.

In short, those with a vested interest try to dissuade rather than provide an objective analysis and truly useful strategies for how to use the product or service.

Some directly try to negate our proof using Alexa. Why us, in particular? Because no one else can provide this type of proof…

500 sites with high results cannot be discounted due to scatter or bias. In fact, SBIers have the least bias since their niche sites reach non-techy visitors (e.g., Anguilla, small dogs, or canaries).

Those “anti-Alexites” who try to convince readers that Alexa is useless as an attack on our proof of success are, bluntly put, dishonest. They do you the disservice of taking these tools out of your hands in order to make a buck.

Dissuading readers from employing free, useful strategies on a daily basis, in order to make a commission, is just a part of the dark side of affiliate marketing.

We’ll be publishing a series of posts on this disturbing trend across all niches of the Internet. If you’re an affiliate marketer, it’s “must-read.” We remain, however, optimistic that affiliate marketing can be brought back to the ethics of its early days…

You can be both ethical and convincing. In the long run, acting in the best interests of your reader, both ethically and within the law, while avoiding those who would use you immorally, gets you into the long run..

Join the SiteSell Community (below) to be sure you catch this revealing study.

Caveat: It’s only fair to point out that we, too, could possibly be placing our best interests above yours. You don’t know us personally, after all. We have used Alexa to prove Solo Build It! success since 2003. So it is, after all, in our best interest to support it.

That’s not why we do so. But only you can determine who’s trying to “get to what’s right” vs. who is debating to “be seen as being right.” Only you can decide who makes the most sense, which discussion is compelling and offers more data and logical discussion.

Alexa has always been useful if you know when and how to use it. We recommended it in Make Your Site Sell!, before SBI! existed. Once we saw how SBI! (launched in 2002) was OVERdelivering on the business logic of C T P M, we thought of Alexa as the best, objective way to prove it.

No other company can prove their success like this.  

They would if they could. Anyone would. Only we do.

So here’s the real take on those “Alexa reviewers” from Category 5b (vested interest)

Sour grapes!

Bottom Line: Alexa is the most widely known service of its kind. SimilarWeb has caught up in usage. Ironically, SW ranks Alexa slightly ahead. And Alexa gives the edge to SW (as of April 2017). SEMrush serves to provide an excellent complement, search data.

SW’s increasing popularity has been helped by the great number of negative reviews of Alexa, which continue to proliferate in true iUrban Myth style. That said, SW is every bit as solid, perhaps slightly more accurate — but that’s not very important since we’re only interested in “ballpark” estimates.

Wrapping this up…

  1. Use either Alexa or SimilarWeb as your “first-pass” tool. That will often be sufficient.
  2. Add the others, if, as and when needed.

You will end up with a solid estimate of a site’s traffic.

In our next article, we’ll dive into a particularly valuable and specialized use for Alexa: Influencer Marketing.

The Definitive Guide to Alexa Traffic Rankings

Part 1: Alexa Basics and Mythbusting
Part 2: Don’t Miss Out on These Valuable Uses for Alexa (You Are Here)
Part 3: What Else Is Alexa Great For? Influencer Marketing
Part 4: When Not to Use Alexa!
Part 5: How to Spot Schemes and Fake Reviews

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

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