Are you an Alexa data junkie? If so there is a new tool for you that is called what else – Alexaholic. From their site, “Alexaholic blends Alexa website traffic graphs with a lightweight ajax-enhanced interface to satisfy hard-core Alexa traffic chart junkies – aka Alexaholics. Webmasters, SEO/SEM specialists, and domain owners can compare and measure website statistics for up to five domains at once, switch traffic chart types and ranges without page loads, and generate report pages that are easily bookmarked and shared.”
What is Alexa data and why should you care?
Let me preface my answer by saying that Alexa’s data is not a completely accurate source for measuring traffic across the entire Internet. The data is actually derived from users that have the Alexa Toolbar installed on their computers. Now before you go downloading the toolbar, keep in mind that it is spyware. This is the very reason why I do not have it installed on my computer and I would venture to say that the vast majority of Internet users do not have this toolbar installed.
However for those who do, the toolbar can track their browsing activity and this is how Alexa collects their data. The data is therefore a “sampling” of traffic and popularity – nothing more. A site’s Alexa rating can give an indication of how popular a site is but that information can never replace a more sophisticated analytics program such as ClickTracks or any of the other analytics programs on the market today.
There are some good points about Alexa however. Alexaholic lists the following benefits of Alexa data:
- Alexa is currently the best source for free and public comparative Web user traffic data.
- Newbies with the Alexa Toolbar are not the only source of data. Firefox users with Craig Raw’s cool SearchStatus extension should note that their browsing behavior is similarly being phoned-home to Alexa, and included in the statistics you see here.
- Statistical significance is attainable with only a small subset of the population – ask a pollster or a high school math teacher.
- The key is “comparative” traffic data. If you want to know exactly how many page views and visitors your site is getting, get a good webserver log analysis tool. But if you want to quickly compare your site’s traffic to your competitors’ sites, Alexa is your friend.
So, take Alexa data with a grain of salt. I liken its data to Google PageRank or Overture’s Keyword Selector Tool – it gives you a glimpse into a much larger picture.