Although Alexa is not accurate, most marketing and ad agencies use Alexa rankings to fleece the online advertisers.
By Rakesh Raman
Web analytics service Alexa of the Amazon company claims that it provides web traffic data including the website rankings for different websites of the world.
But those who understand digital and web media know that it’s an extremely inaccurate service, as its underlying methodology to monitor and measure web traffic is defective.
Alexa seems to be aware of its inaccuracies. Beginning this month (Oct. 2014), Alexa says it is incorporating new data points, which will help improve the accuracy of its metrics.
“A bigger data sample with more robust global traffic coverage means we can make better estimates, translating into more accurate rankings, traffic metrics, and actionable recommendations,” Alexa said in its blog post.
But this new Alexa model is also not going to be useful because the fundamental Alexa algorithm will still be vague and faulty. Its estimation will not be accurate by simply covering new data points.
Most web analysts know that Alexa web rankings estimation is a big farce because it depends on a limited sample of web users. That means even when the web traffic is increasing on your website, your Alexa rank will not improve if the web users don’t belong to the Alexa sample.
Plus, the algorithm that Alexa uses is not transparent for website owners as well as users. According to Alexa, the traffic rank is a measure of how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months.
It implies that you can’t even check the accuracy of a web rank because it’s a relative rank, which depends on those random sites on which you don’t have any control.
Moreover, Alexa expects the users in its panel to install the Alexa toolbar in the browsers, which is supposed to send the traffic data back to Alexa for web analytics. This is a totally weird requirement because most users don’t install such toolbars in their browsers.
The result of this condition could be disastrous for website owners. How? If most of your web traffic is coming from users who have not installed Alexa toolbar, your Alexa rank won’t improve even when your traffic is growing. Worse, your Alexa rank may deteriorate even when you are getting more traffic on your website.
Then why are Alexa rankings used?
Most marketing and ad agencies use Alexa rankings to fleece the online advertisers. The truth is that you can improve your Alexa rank fraudulently by paying for Alexa rank booster services, which are available on the web.
Online marketing and ad agencies cheat the advertisers by showing the artificially improved web rank for a content site to extort more money from the brand advertisers. Since most advertisers are clueless about the online ad ecosystem, they keep spending money without getting any positive impact on their brands.
As Alexa also offers paid service along with a free option, there is a probability that your Alexa rank could improve (even when your web traffic is not increasing) if you choose the paid option – which is not an ethical way to improve your website performance.
Alexa rank frauds are part of a big racket that is happening in the online ad space. The crooks in this shady online business are ad agencies, ad exchanges, social networking companies, market research firms, and others.
[ Also Read: Say “No” to Digital Advertising. Why? Because of Ad Frauds ]
Since the ad rates depend on the traffic on a website, ad agencies and online content publishers manipulate the traffic data and web rankings by using shady means to rob the advertisers.
Then what’s the remedy?
Advertisers must demand qualitative content analysis for a content website before releasing their ads and paying for them on that website.
Qualitative content analysis is a difficult job and most ad agencies and marketing communication agencies are not competent to do this kind of analysis.
So, advertisers must take extra precautions while selecting their ad agencies that also buy ad space for them.
By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Company
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman