How dependable are Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Nielsen really!?

Most bloggers, advertisers & webmasters always want to know the traffic a website generates. While Google Analytics is considered among the best, the fact that you can disable its tracking by disabling javascript in your browser does make Google Analytics show the statistics slightly on the lower side.

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Server level statistics like, say AWStats, are said to give a closer picture. But they have one drawback. They also track and count the Bots. So they tend to be a bit on the higher side.

Blogging tips websites have a better Alexa rank

I always felt Alexa has its limitations as it (only accurately) tracks only those users who visit the site with the Alexa toolbar installed on their browsers. Now tell me, who uses an Alexa toolbar? Bloggers and webmasters only. Moreover, the Alexa toolbar is not compatible with Internet Explorer, and hence it misses this IE traffic.

Alexa also accurately measures traffic of those websites who have installed the Alexa widget on their sites. This way it can measure all the traffic which your site gets, and hence you can get a better Alexa rank. Some webmasters even modify its code to hide it from being displayed. But seeing the code of the web page and searching for ‘Alexa’ can easily tell you the truth! A simple search on how to hide the Alexa widget will tell you how to do it.

Since this toolbar is mostly installed by webmasters and bloggers and hence you see SEO, Blogging tips sites having a higher Alexa ranking. Moreover, this toolbar is relatively popular in select countries like USA, India, etc. only. So unless you have a lot of bloggers too visiting your website, you may not see a high Alexa rank! Moreover, it is also easy to improve your Alexa ranking up to a point if it makes you feel good!

How dependable are Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Nielsen really!?

Reddit has once again proved Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, etc. wrong.

They have published their Google Analytics data, vis-a-vis the Alexa, Compete, Quantcast data. And the difference? Well, “quite a bit” – to say the least!

“Reddit’s Google Analytics reports that the website got more than 8,000,000 unique visitors in the last 30 days and 400,000,000 page views. This is a typical month for us. In fact, our numbers would have been even higher if not for some site issues at the end of June.

The problem is, advertisers generally don’t trust Google Analytics numbers. They have their own preferred sources of traffic information that they put their faith in. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Compete.com reports that we get around 927,000 unique visitors a month. Their page views number for us isn’t available to the public, but we’re told it’s similarly sorry-looking

Quantcast also seems to have no option for displaying the most important category (total page views). They paint a picture of a visit count dropping from around 13,000,000 to 10,000,000 so far this year. It isn’t. It’s two to four times as much, and we haven’t had two consecutive months of declining traffic since spring 2007.

Alexa is just plain weird. They don’t seem to like tallying actual totals, and instead, seem to prefer to rate sites by their “percentage of total Internet traffic.” If I could find their guess for last month’s total global Internet traffic, I could multiply those two numbers together and calculate what they think our page views were, but since I can’t find that key statistic, I can only look at their graphs comparing us to competing sites. Those graphs seem to indicate that Alexa, too, is drastically under-representing the size of Reddit.

Finally, Nielsen might be the cagiest of all: I don’t have a screenshot to present, but someone with a subscription to their ranking service tells us that they estimate our “Online Market Size Estimate” (whatever that is) to be 652,000.” There’s not a lot of information out there about how these companies come up with their traffic guesstimates or how an under-represented site can get them to report more realistic information. Public shaming?

Is Alexa rank important, accurate or dependable

An Alexa rank can only be taken as a rough indicator. A high Alexa rank sure looks good. It makes you feel good and can make even your fellow-bloggers envious. It also is a factor which advertisers consider when deciding to place advertisements on your side. But beyond this, it matters little, in my opinion.

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Forget focussing on the Alexa rank. Focus instead on generating good content consistently – and do the basic SEO stuff, and you will be all set to get good web traffic and consequently good money.

Check out my post on Useful tips for new bloggers.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

4 Comments

  1. kenpmason

    Firefox users can install the Ghostery add-on, which blocks 249 traffic trackers (and counting), without disabling Java.

  2. Simon Joe

    do you want to know your sites’s QC rank? check http://www.qcrankhistory.com/

  3. Naresh Landam

    As per my knowledge Alexa rank is dependent on lot of factors such as page speed, page visits, viewers and many more. Also metrics for sites having rank greater 100,000 are not accurate. for more info, http://www.spinfold.com/is-alexa-ranking-important-for-your-blog/

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