What is Alexa Ranking?

website ranking and popularity check with Alexa

“Alexa Ranking” is a relatively new term in the world of online business and marketing, but the analytical insight known as Alexa has been around since 1996. 

Alexa.com is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and offers a variety of marketing software, including keyword research, competitive web analysis, SEO analysis, target audience analysis, and also has the ability to check backlinks. 

It also has the ability to review traffic details to show how popular one website is relative to other websites.  That popularity translates into the Alexa ranking.

How Does Alexa Ranking Work?

At this point, you’re probably thinking there’s no way any one service can scan every single website in the world wide web and comprehensively rank them based on traffic.  That’s a HUGE undertaking!  According to Alexa.com, over 300 million sites are currently tracked by the tool, which is a very hearty chunk of today’s active websites.  

In the most basic of terms, Alexa Traffic Rank compares views of your site to every other site it can find every single day.  If your site is Alexa Certified (more on that in a bit), the traffic is directly measured.

For all other sites, the rank is calculated through a specific process involving a sample data panel, which takes into account data from millions of internet users, over 25,000 browser extensions, and creates an estimated outlook of traffic and engagement over the past three months.

Obviously, the exact method is a proprietary secret, but essentially, a lot of information goes into these calculations!

There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though.  First, Alexa only provides ranking for top-level domains, so if you’re directing people to examplewebsite.com/sale, the ranking for examplewebsite.com will not change.

Also, “unique visitors”, as measured by Alexa, are determined by the number of people who visit during a set time frame.  At the same time, the “visits” calculated are individual browsing sessions per 30 minute interval.  So, if John Q. User visits your site at 1pm and again at 2pm, that’s one unique visitor, but two distinct visits.

Another thing to consider is that an Alexa ranking is a comparison to all other sites, every day.  This is very literally a race between websites, and the winner is whichever site had the most traffic.

Learn how to get more traffic to your website.

You may have had a banner day for sales and conversions, but still have a low ranking because more people visited another site.  Like all other rankings, this is not the big picture, but just one view of how your website is performing.

What Does It All Mean?

Like every tool, there are some really beneficial aspects to the Alexa ranking, and some ways in which it can be taken with a grain of salt.  

If your goal is to get an idea of how your website performs alongside its competitors, especially during special events and slow spots, Alexa has the tools to help you see where your website might need some help, and where it is performing very well.

SEO insights and performance analysis are great tools for helping you see where you might want to adjust content, spruce up the keywords, and change up the photos, if necessary.  Higher rank can also be a shining spot when attempting to attract marketing partners.

Your website is the face you display to the world, and when it comes to requesting guest blogger spots, building backlinks, attracting the attention of social media influencers, and more, that higher Alexa ranking will serve as testimony to your expertise and success.

At the same time, a high rating is not the end all, be all of web popularity.  Remember, many rankings are the result of estimates and algorithms, not direct data.  And while this ranking is helpful in getting a general idea of your site’s traffic, this is a daily reminder of performance, not a lifetime analysis.

Every day may be different for your website.  If your competitor has a flash sale, then naturally they’ll have a higher ranking during that period.  Another thing to remember is that only the top level domain is ranked.

If you have a very popular blog post that goes viral, but everyone who views it goes directly to the blog post, that will not impact your Alexa rating.

How Do I Check My Alexa Ranking?

You can run a free analysis on any site at any time via Alexa.com’s Website Traffic tool.  This is a great feature for those who are interested in spot-checking traffic statistics, SEO opportunities, and audience insights without investing in any additional software programs.  

You can also choose a Certified Alexa Rank program for your site.  The first step is to install the Alexa Certify Code on your site. This relatively simple process allows the program to directly measure your website’s traffic.

To do so, you’ll want to sign up for a Certified Plan subscription, add your site’s information, and follow the directions provided on the site for “Certification Status.”

There are four different levels of certification, from Basic, which tracks up to ten million page views each month for $19.99 a month, to the Advanced High Traffic plan, which tracks up to 1 Billion views each month for $799 a month.  Each level of the Certified Plan includes a limited free trial period, too.

Lastly, if you are interested in the various marketing assistance and analytical programs available through Alexa.com, each program includes a Certified Plan subscription.

Choose from the Insight plan, which keeps a constant eye on your site and up to ten competitors’ sites to track visibility and ranking, or the Full Marketing Stack, which includes keyword and SEO tools, backlink checking, audience behavior analysis, as well as keeps an eye on the competition to provide detailed suggestions for your own site!

Every business owner can benefit from a review of their website ranking, as well as helpful hints for maximizing performance.  By checking your Alexa ranking, you can get a great approximation of your site’s popularity.  Or, for more direct data, consider participating in a Certified Plan.

Since the landscape of online marketing is constantly changing, it’s always good to know how to keep your finger on the pulse, and Alexa.com offers tools that can help you gauge your website’s effectiveness and popularity on any given day.



Teachingbiz provides internet marketing services and education to digital entrepreneurs and marketers who want to learn how to build and scale their businesses.

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