When NOT to Use Alexa!

We’ve covered at length how Alexa works, why the bulk of the reviews miss the point, and how you can use Alexa to raise your game. It’s important, though, to understand exactly when and why you should not use Alexa.

What’s even more common than the reviews that fail to cover the excellent daily ways you can and should use Alexa?

Answer… Failure to understand when NOT to! And when is that?

Don’t use it for your own site! Here’s why…

Direct measures such as Google Analytics are EXACT.


Do not use it to measure, track or report YOUR OWN traffic. I repeat…

Do not use it to measure your own traffic.

Do not sweat your very own Alexa score.

We have seen countless posts in various online marketing forums worrying about a low (or deteriorating) Alexa score, or rejoicing over an improving Alexa one…

“My Alexa score is bad — please tell me how to improve it.”

Our answer to that is…

Why in the world are you using Alexa to measure your own traffic?

Our follow-up answer is, well, um….

Increase your traffic. That will boost your Alexa (the only value of which is to boost your ego).

Another common comment…

“I will never trust Alexa again. It says that my traffic has dropped even though Google Analytics says it’s stayed the same. What’s the point?”

Indeed! That’s a great question…

Why do folks worry about Alexa as it relates to their own sites? Some reasons:

  1. They fail to understand the concept. They know enough to know that it displays traffic. But when you see questions such as “why does a lower Alexa ranking mean more traffic,” there’s only one answer.

  2. They understand the concept, but are embarrassed by the public availability of the number, especially if it’s “negative scatter” (i.e., falsely showing a result that’s worse than reality). I get it…

    • An accurate poor Alexa ranking is embarrassing. 😳
    • An exaggerated low score is upsetting. 😡

    Both circumstances can lead to certain downsides (e.g., scare off potential advertisers, and loss of credibility).

    The solution? Don’t call it out on your site. Forget about it — quit worrying about it. Few people in niches outside of Internet Marketing know about it.

    Can’t do that? Then concentrate on growing your traffic (which is the real issue, after all!) and let Alexa catch up.

    What if you really need to document your site or your client’s site publicly?

    Put up a screenshot of Google Analytics (GA). You’ll have to update that often, and it’s not as verifiable as Alexa, that’s true. But if your GA traffic is better than what Alexa suggests, it’s the better option.

    If you do show a GA screenshot for a serious, commercial reason (e.g., you want to attract advertisers or proposals for joint ventures, etc.)…

    Add that you’re available to provide live access to your Google Analytics through Skype screensharing. A screenshot can be faked — a live demo cannot.

    Of course, if you want to show your effectiveness with client sites, it’s a lot of work getting the owner’s permission. They’ll have to do the work, including periodic updates and making themselves available for a live demo. Basically, that won’t work. Back to Alexa, or bust.

  3. If you’re using Alexa to show off how much traffic you have without more business purpose than that, it’s just an ego thing. In this instance, here’s the truth…

  4. No one cares. Just take it down.

  5. If you use a falsely high Alexa score to fool someone into buying ads or buying a product, stop! Sure, you may “make money” through fraud. If you don’t want to stop doing this because it’s the right thing to do, then do it because you will inevitably be found out.

  6. For example, the advertiser on your site will get horrible metrics (e.g., few impressions) that don’t measure up to what you had represented. And the person who buys a product that does not deliver the traffic will discover that it’s inferior. Ask yourself this…

    Are your peace of mind and a ruined reputation really worth making money this way?

    Sidebar: There are ways to manipulate your Alexa rank. You have probably seen the spam that sells this service. Even if it still works, there’s no real payoff to this fraud.  Avoid it at all costs.

    Your key takeaway? Whatever your concern regarding the Alexa ranking for your own site may be, it makes no sense to care about it. Use an analytics program that measures your traffic directly (e.g., Google Analytics). Speaking of which…

    A Word on Google Analytics

    It’s easy to place a small bit of JavaScript on every page of your site so Google Analytics can track your site’s visitors and usage directly. Use that exact information for your site.

    The GA learning curve can be intimidating, but you can boil it down to a 90-10 approach. For many solopreneurs, getting 90% of the benefit with 10% of the effort will be more than enough. It tells you with precision how many visitors you’re getting, along with other key metrics.

    So don’t be depressed by an Alexa ranking of 20,000,000 if GA says you have 5,000 visitors per day (that’s not likely, I’m just sayin’ ). That many visitors will almost always put you within the Top 1,000,000 sites at Alexa.

    Major discrepancies (“outliers”) are likely temporary statistical flukes. Alexa will eventually catch up — not that it matters. If it persists and bothers you, report it to Alexa here (you must register a free account first).

    And then forget about it.

    Alexa is a good way to assess traffic
    of the sites of OTHERS…
    Sidebar: It’s appropriate to repeat here that we use Alexa results as one of the ways to prove how SBI! members succeed at unmatchable rates. See this Results page as an example.

    We use it because we believe in its value. If we didn’t believe Alexa proves what it does, we would not use it. Those who try to invalidate Alexa have failed to build that case.

    A skeptic could say that a few Alexa successes don’t mean much. But 500? I doubt that Wix or GoDaddy has anywhere near the same ratio of sites in the Top 1,000,000. Heck, they may not even have the same absolute number of solopreneur sites with this level of success!

    Still, we do call out this potential conflict-of-interest. And we state for the record…

    We use it because…

    • It makes the point fairly and objectively.
    • Anyone can double-check the up-to-the-minute results.
    • Anyone can cross-check with SimilarWeb and SEMrush.
    • It invites competitors to do the same.
    • It shows our confidence. Any company with better results would show them.

    Furthermore, we do nothing to manipulate the results (an absurd claim that others have made). SBI! members do not reach the type of people who are most likely to use Alexa, so claims of any bias in Alexa only make our results stronger. We do not even tell SBIers to use the Alexa toolbar. Nor do we suggest they display Alexa results. There’s no reason for SBI! results to benefit from bias.  

    In fact, since SBIers build real businesses about real niches (non-“make money”), we would be at a disadvantage compared to Internet Marketing products. For example…

    1. The unscrupulous competitor (mentioned earlier) has over ⅔ of its sites in Internet Marketing, largely Affiliate Marketing. They promote that you’ll be successful, but they don’t prove it. If there was any Internet Marketing bias with Alexa, they would benefit from the “Internet Marketing” skew due to the heavy “make money” skew of visitors to their customer’s sites, while we would suffer from it. Here’s why…

    2. SBIers, who are all into “regular” niches (e.g., raising exotic turtles, or travel destinations), attract “regular” (non-tech-savvy) visitors. Unlike our competitor, we specifically dissuade SBIers from “make money” niches. As you can see, these 500 sites are “regular” sites — no bias. And when you show 500 sites, “scatter” averages out.

      The key takeaway? Despite the potential advantage of our competitor, SBIer businesses are 22X more likely to be in the Top 1,000,000. That’s not a typo — Read the SBI! vs. Wealthy Affiliate Review and see for yourself.

    3. We’re also at a second “Alexa disadvantage.” This is of our own making because we want to be sure that the Results page is totally fair.

    4. When compiling the Results page, we eliminate any site that does not have the actual traffic (measured by our server log analysis) to justify its appearance on that page. That means that we cut out misleading “positive scatter” that doesn’t belong, even if the Alexa ranking is better than 1,000,000. So…

      Actual log-file analysis guarantees that all sites belong.

    5. Across a wide variety of niches, SBIers do not focus on Internet Marketing. Why? We coach them to choose a niche they’re passionate about and execute the right steps in the right order with excellence. They don’t need to lose time on the tons of Internet Marketing details that slow down most solopreneurs.

    6. So Since it’s those who focus on Internet Marketing who supposedly use the toolbar, we would suffer if there were any bias towards those whose focus is Internet Marketing.

    7. Finally, as stated earlier, we do nothing to manipulate the results. Quite the opposite —  if/when SBIers use Alexa to verify the competition, we suggest they do it through the browser (not the toolbar), and without logging in.

    Bottom line? The Alexa numbers on the Results page are accurate. They portray reality.

    Skeptics may say, “Sure, but traffic does not have to equal income.” Competitors have long tried to misrepresent our results with a variety of spurious arguments. The answer to this one?

    “There may be exceptions, but NO traffic always equals NO income.”

    Besides, SBIers are trained to assess and plan the monetization models that they’ll use before they even choose a domain name. When traffic comes rolling in, all they have to do is implement the plan. See how 2 of the 10 “DAYs” of the Action Guide are devoted to monetization (DAYs 4 and 10 — planning and then doing!).

    Which leads us to one excellent way for you to use Alexa (and her two “cousins”) in tomorrow’s article: spotting 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.