What is the Alexa ranking and how can I improve it?

Anyone with a web presence is constantly desiring higher visitor numbers. But just how can you measure the popularity of a website? An important factor for doing this is traffic that is generated by a web presence. This, as well as other measurable values, are part of the calculations made by Alexa, one of the biggest services for determining online rankings.

Founded in 1996, Alexa Internet Inc. is a daughter company of Amazon.com. The company has developed a service that stores the surfing habits of users who have installed an Alexa toolbar. The Alexa rank should then reflect the overall performance of a web presence. Websites with good traffic and regularly updated content will generally also have a good Alexa ranking. Added to this there are also other factors that have an influence directly and indirectly on an Alexa ranking. Some examples of these include the niche, which the website serves, as well as the keywords used in the texts.

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Alexa ranking – what is it?

An Alexa ranking, in short, is a representative metric. It grades the performance of your website in comparison to the million most popular websites online. If it is the case that, up until now, you have not taken any conscious steps to increase your ranking, then you undoubtedly still have room to optimise the value and visibility of your web presence.

Ultimately it is both worthwhile and prestigious to increase your Alexa ranking. Given that the ranking list is made publicly viewable, it means that potential advertisers, investors, and business partners can go about researching Alex rankings. Rating the attractiveness of a web presence is often based on its Alexa ranking, meaning that a better placing in the list can be translated into financial gain.

IONOS offer several tips on how to increase an Alexa ranking. Additionally, it is also important to better understand the inner workings of the Alexa ranking system, so that you might be able to optimise it further.

What does the term Alexa Traffic Rank actually stand for?

Your Alexa Traffic Rank is an estimation, which indicates how often your website is visited in comparison to other sites. This means that your web page’s ranking is not only decided by traffic on the page, but also by fluctuations in data traffic on other websites. This means that a ranking is actually a rating that is relative. This also means that if it is the case that you are in a very competitive sector and you wish to assert yourself, then you will require a lot of traffic in order to achieve a high ranking. If your web presence is in more of a niche sector, then less traffic will be sufficient for boosting your Alexa ranking.

How does Alexa get its data?

Alexa collects data from millions of internet users across the globe. For someone to communicate their data, they must have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser. Based on the figures from these samples, Alexa then estimates the number of visitors to every page on the internet. The term Alexa ranking then refers to a website’s ranking on this list of the one million most visited domains.

This involves a complex calculation, which also considers sources of error like spam-related traffic and excludes it. Alexa places great value on the fact that it only includes representative data in its calculations. All data traffic caused by bot-based activities and non-human users is hereby filtered out.

Alexa estimates the average amount of daily visitors and page views for every website within the last three months. The website which achieves the highest value, a combination of individual (unique) visitors and page views, will be in first place. It should be noted that, in this context, multiple queries by one user on one URL on the same day will count as a page view. The site with the least amount of activity will then occupy last place. If it so happens that over the last three months a web page has not registered any visitors, then it is completely removed from the ranking list.

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The Alexa Toolbar

Alexa delivers the ranking based on data that is generated from the users of the Alexa Toolbar. Based on these statistics, Alexa then calculates the statistics for every domain. According to Alexa, the data from popular domains are more accurate than those from less popular web pages. The reason for this is that the less frequent visits to the sites lower down the rankings, the less representative data can be collected.

Of course it is up to every user whether they want to install the Alexa Toolbar. You can also undoubtedly question whether the average Toolbar user is an accurate representation of the average internet user. And we must also bear in mind that the Alexa Ranking is not the be-all and end-all. There are also other possibilities of analysing your ranking, e.g. with the help of Google Assistant, Protonet Zoe or Lenovo Smart Assistant). But there is no doubting that, as a tool for monitoring trends, Alexa is very useful. Given that the data is public, you can, for example, use the Alexa rankings to keep an eye on your competitors.

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What influence does the number of visitors to a website have on the Alexa ranking?

The Alexa rankings list is very long. However, the best places take up a large portion of the traffic for themselves. The high density of places around the middle of the table mean that a quick rise through the rankings is possible through an increase in visitor numbers. The closer you get to the top of the ranking list, the more difficult it gets to improve your ranking.

Why is the Alexa Rank important?

Above all, a higher Alexa rank can be very relevant for commercial websites. More visitors bring about more data, which in turn makes it easier to predict the behaviour of future visitors. This means it is easier to assess more accurately what influences the purchases decision of potential customers (Keyword Social Proof).

Very often a higher Alexa rank is a recognised indicator for a frequently visited site. There are publicly viewable lists and directories that evaluate website based on their Alexa ranking. Appearing at the top of or towards the top of these lists is advantageous, as it can attract the attention of more visitors as well as potential collaborators. Furthermore, it also makes your website more interesting for advertisers. An attractive web presence can undoubtedly fund itself through the sale of advertising spaces

If it is the case that you have blog elements integrated on your site, then the Alexa Rank will be of particular importance to you. A higher ranking increases the amount of your backlinks, given that many bloggers compile lists of the best websites based on Alexa rankings.

Alexa rankings also allow you to recognise how effective your content has been over a longer time. Given that the figures in the rankings list refer to the previous three months, you can maintain a better overview in relation to the long-term effect of your published content. This then makes it easier for you to undertake the corresponding optimisations.

In order to get an Alexa rank that is precise, you can have Alexa certify the metrics of your website. Data from domains with certified metrics are measured directly by Alexa, meaning that your page’s ranking is based on a solid foundation, as opposed to it being just roughly estimated. On top of this, you will also be granted access to a user interface, which makes it possible to have more exact insight into the traffic data. This certificate ensures a more exact positioning but does not necessarily improve your ranking.

How do I increase my Alexa ranking?

Many website operators frequently ask themselves how they can improve their Alexa ranking on a sustained basis. There are several optimisation options; although some of these are more effective than others. Below we explain step for step what measure you can take to improve the Alexa rank of your page.

Create unique content

The priority needs to be to produce valuable and original content that is updated regularly. Having unique content gives you a much better chance of acquiring a loyal following. If your readers find the content of your website to be valuable and informative, they are much more likely to come back and engage with the site in the form of comments and shares.

It is good content that is mostly shared on social networks, which in turn has a positive effect on link building. This way, the number of new visitors will grow long-term, along with your regular readers or customers. Furthermore, search engines like Google reward high-quality content, which means that your web page is more likely to be found in search results. Along with this, users’ average retention time (the time spent on the page) will be increased. This will not just effect your position in the search results, but also your Alexa ranking. In short: unique content will help to increase the amount of traffic to your site.

Make sure to have a good link structure

Link optimisation is an integral part of a successful online marketing strategy. This applies to both external as well as internal linking.

It is important that you make sure that thematically related pages on your website are linked. These sort of links are known as external links or backlinks, and they are the measures needed for link building. They help search engines to clearly assign an area or sector to each website. Above all, strong and detailed links ensure that your web page gains credibility. Naturally for this all to happen you need a solid fundamental groundwork made up of unique and original content.

The same also applies to the internal link structure, with which you can also improve your Alexa ranking. This is why you should integrate links into your texts that lead from one subpage to another. Internal links can be beneficial to visitors to your site as they make navigation much easier. They even mean that the search engine crawlers can orientate themselves better. Well placed internal links can have a positive effect on user retention time and therefore on the ranking.

Both external and internal links help search engines to better understand and analyse the content of your website. These calculations then help determine how suitable your content is to the search query made by a user. The links should be spread out reasonably and, above all, should also be organic. An excessive amount of links can reduce the credibility and/or legibility of your website. This is also recognised by search engines, meaning that you will come off badly in the search results.

Find relevant Keywords

An essential component of every successful website are texts with the right keywords. Find out which keywords are used by websites that are thematically similar to yours. A keyword research can allow you to better comprehend what your target audience is searching for and how they are searching for it. However, remember also to use keywords that are not so much sought after. You should look for relevant keywords that correlate well with your content. You can also find out more about keyword research in our digital guide.

Analyse the marketing strategy of your competition

When it comes to analysing competitors, the idea is to place your website in a larger context. This will allow you to find out what works best, and will allow you to gain a better understanding on which strategies could be important for your success. Above all, it is crucial that you identify what it is that makes you different from the competition. Once you know this, you can then begin to adjust your website in a way that is fitting. Ideally, you will then be offering visitors and/or customers that, which is not offered by the websites of your competitors.

Step by step, then, you should be able to find out which strategy you should follow to be able to identify and anticipate market trends. Thanks to these newly acquired perspectives, it should then be much easier to rethink your overall strategy. You will be in the position to make future orientated decisions and positively influence your position in the market.

Utilise the SEO tools from Alexa

There are countless tools out there that can help with the implementation of SEO measures. Alexa themselves offer a fee-based marketing package (‘Marketing Stack’), which contains tools for keyword research, comparing competitors, as well as web analytics. As a user of this package, you will also receive specific instructions on how to improve the likes of search engine rankings, usability, performance, backlinks, and more.   

With the keyword difficulty tool, you can find out which keywords have not yet been overly used by your competitors, and with which of these you can then rank. You will gain an insight into the top 10 websites with the most traffic for a specific keyword. Thanks to the handy saving function you can also keep the most important keywords for future use.

The competitive intelligence tools allow you to compare websites to recognise trends and identify potential high flyers early. You can find out how much traffic other websites in your industry are generating, as well as what campaigns have been successful. In the extended version, you then also get an insight into the monthly statistics for unique visitors across various websites. The additional features of the competitive intelligence tools also include measurements for time on site, bounce rate, and page views per visitor.

The SEO audit tool allows you to maintain a ready view over your current SEO status. Technical problems, which can undo all your SEO work, can sometimes remain undetected. The SEO audit tool delivers regular reports to help guarantee your SEO status. By designing an individual step for step action plan, this tool can help you to execute the best practices.

Install the Alexa toolbar and the Alexa widget

The Alexa toolbar provides interesting statistics about visited websites as well as conclusions relating to visitor numbers both nationally and internationally. As has already been mentioned, these surveys stem from estimates that are based on the data from users that have the toolbar installed. One advantage of the toolbar is that it shows links to other sites that are thematically related. This means that you can quickly inform yourself on a certain theme from a variety of sources, without having to spend a lot of time searching for them.

Many users are reluctant to install the toolbar, given that Alexa collects extensive data on a user’s surfing habits. Anyone who places particular value on their privacy is therefore highly unlikely to start using the tool in the first place. However, on its website, Alexa promises not to use the collected data to identify individual users. But in some cases, it cannot be completely ruled out that that data will not be personally identifiable.

The Alexa widget makes your Alexa ranking directly visible on your WordPress blog. Similar to a social share count, the widget indicates that your website is popular (if the visitor numbers are high). The widget can also be a visible and positive signal for your visitors and potential cooperation partners. Since 2016 however, Alexa widgets cannot be implemented on normal websites. This means that it is now only of interest to WordPress bloggers.

Optimise your website for Facebook sharing

Due to its enormous reach, Facebook is one of the most important social media platforms. A lot of
Facebook traffic will mean a major boost for your domain. If your content spreads virally, then you have the chance to attract thousands of visitors at no extra charge. Add a social media plugin to your website or manually integrate the Facebook share button if you are not using CMS. Set up your own Facebook page (or adjust it accordingly) and then share your content in the world’s biggest social network. This should provide an increase in both traffic to your website and your Alexa rank. 

After you have optimised your Facebook profile, you can concentrate on your new target audience. In order to make a big leap forward in the rankings, you should create content that will be shared a lot throughout social media. Potentially viral content, e.g. videos, infographics, interesting stories, images, articles to current affairs and themes, should ideally be shared organically amongst your followers.

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Alexa Rank vs. Google PageRank

For years now Google, in its toolbar, has also been offering website operators a PageRank display, with which the relevance of web presences can be evaluated. Following on from the evolution of the Google search algorithm, the significance of PageRank for positioning among the SERPs has noticeably declined. For this reason, the search engine giant decided to do away with public PageRank on 18 April 2016. However internal PageRank data is still available as part of Google Rankings.

Google PageRank goes back to 1997 with the algorithm developed by Larry Page and Sergei Brin began rating the relevance of a website solely based on backlinks. The major downside of this was that a well linked website could have a high PageRank, even if it offered no relevant content, or generated comparatively low traffic.

What this then meant is that PageRank did not necessarily reflect the value of a particular website for a user. This left website operators with a large amount of potential for manipulation to help them achieve a better rank for their domain, and achieve it quite quickly as well. These days, when it comes to rating a website, the Google algorithm draws on over 200 ranking factors, one of which is PageRank. 

Whereas with Google PageRank it is backlinks that are at the forefront, a high Alexa ranking is usually associated with a high amount of traffic. But it must be noted that this says nothing regarding the quality of this traffic. Bear in mind also that placement in the Alexa rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt. Even a website registering comparably low amounts of visitors can still have quite a respectable Alexa ranking. It will always depends on the particular niche that the website serves. If it is the case that the website is serving quite a small group, then between 200 and 400 visitors daily should be enough to secure a decent Alexa ranking.

Is the Alexa ranking actually relevant?

Appearing high up in the Alexa rankings is particularly attractive to professional website operators. The toolbar is in itself quite a handy tool to assess your website; given that the Alexa rankings make it possible to roughly identify how much traffic your website is generating, compared to other pages.

But remember that the often inexact estimates cannot always be taken at face value. In this sense, Alexa is the most suitable as a general yardstick for predicting possible trends. This is also backed up by the fact that the Alexa ranking is always based on the previous three months.