Alexa Rank Update Problem and Workaround

Alexa RankMost of you must have noticed that your Alexa rank widgets and toolbar data are not getting updated for the past three weeks or so. Even the Alexa website’s traffic details query is showing data that was frozen three weeks ago. As it seems, Alexa is doing another upgrade to their ranking algorithm, just like they did in April 2008.

There is a work around available, if you are so keen on knowing your latest Alexa rank, at least until the toolbar and widgets start displaying new ranks. It takes a couple of minutes but worth the wait, if Alexa rank matters so much to you.

Get your latest Alexa Rank

The only updated rank data, that is available right now (using the new algorithm?) publicly, is their Top 1 million sites list. This is available for download as a Comma-Separated-Values (CSV) file in zipped format and can be found in the following location.
Alexa Top 1,000,000 Sites.

Once downloaded and unzipped, it can be opened in your favorite text editor or even Wordpad. It will not open in Microsoft Excel because Excel supports only 64K rows and this file contain 1 Million! Now search for your domain name in this file and get your latest rank that is updated on a daily basis. This works for only those who are ranked up to 1 million (Others need to wait)

Should a great Alexa rank be one of your goals?

A lot of bloggers have set their 2009 objectives and goals in the past two weeks and I read in many blogs that the Alexa rank is one of their prime objectives. Please note that, the Alexa rank may not be the right criterion to assess your traffic size & quality. For that matter even Compete or other alternatives are not good enough either.

If you want to impress your stake holders (sponsors, advertisers, readers, potential buyers etc) with some realistic traffic data, share your Google Analytics or similar tracker data that can provide better KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as bounce rate, new v/s returning visitors, page views per visit, demographic data, visitor entry/exit pattern etc. However, raw data analysis tools such as awstats, webalyzer etc are not of any use either.

How can Amazon improve Alexa?

If they really want to improve Alexa ranking algorithm and its acceptance, they should make a little more disclosures about the data received on the website being ranked. i.e. Sources for collecting data, the number of visits and page views, sampling done etc. If not, it will remain a fictitious measure over which you keep brooding over.

Over to you…

Comments

  1. Blog for Bloggers :

    I honestly don’t know much about the Alexa algorithm, but it seems like it’s pretty easy to manipulate if you have a site that a lot of tech-savy people visit since they use the Alexa plugin.
    Anyway, it is in my goals and from that top 1,000,000 list im almost their 😛

    Blog for Bloggers’s last blog post… My Recipe To A High PR

  2. Barry :

    Hi Ajith. Wanted to let you know about a free web based tool I just wrote
    which allows you to search the Alexa Top million sites online without
    downloading the 10+ meg CSV file.

    The URL is http://www.popularity.info and you can enter any domain
    or partial keyword to check daily Alexa rank.

    The tool is still in beta mode, but should be updating daily as of early next week.
    Thanks and please feel free to let me know any comments or suggestions you might have.

  3. Domain Marvelous :

    As we all know, Alexa gives priority to visits from browsers that have their toolbar installed. Even a new website, with two or three visits from Alexa toolbar installed browsers can prop up your rank near the 2 millionth mark.

    Refreshing your browser continuously and sending bot traffic to the site are some ways people use to manipulate their Alexa Rank.

    While I agree that Alexa is not the best way to measure your traffic stats, nevertheless, it is still a good comparative tool if you do not “cheat” your way up. For me, personally, Alexa ranking is something on which I live by, comparing my traffic campaign progress.

  4. @Barry, your Alexa popularity service is really good :) The problem is that when we write such an application you need to store this 10MB file into your local DB right? Looks like you haven’t been keeping it updated. Could be a beta issue…

    Why don’t you write a cron job to keep it updated on your database on a regular basis? That will make this tool perfect (In fact, I have been thinking of writing one 😀 to accompany this post. Now that you have one, you just need to fix the issues and we all will use it.

    @Ardit, good luck with your traffic goals…

    @Forsaken, you are right! The system of collecting data from toolbar may be wrong. They should ideally get these data from some consortium of ISPs or something like that. Do you believe in compete.com ranks? I guess, though they have a toolbar as well, it cannot be manipulated

    As soon as I finished this post, my Alexa toolbar is showing the updated rank 😆 But still the 1 million sites file is more accurate and updated!

  5. I dont really consider Alexa as a real value to know if a blog id popular for the simple reason that those who have the alexa plugin on their site has an advantage over those who have not use it.

    However its still one of my objective this year to get a good alexa rank. i am aiming for the below 500000 and hope to reach it by April.

    Yeah, since some weeks, I see my alexa ranking frozen. I thought they have dumped me lol :p

    So I’ll be waiting for my new rank.

    Kurt Avish’s last blog post… John Chow John Cow! The MMO Cows!!!

  6. Domain Marvelous :

    @Ajith, Yep, I noticed the Toolbar Rank updated, but it is way off the rank shown in the attached file.

  7. Yeh, the Alexa rank just got updated today. And we all know that Alexa isn’t a true indicator of success. However, it is one of those things that bloggers are often concerned about. After all, website value is often judged using Alexa as a principal factor. It will be interesting to see how rankings are adjusted based on the new algorithm… I am growing nervous. :-)

    Shirley’s last blog post… Google Maps’ Street View Helps Fight Crime!

  8. From what I remember, sometime last year around April I think, Alexa has updated their algorithm and is no longer based on traffic from people with Alexa toolbar. This is also the reason why almost all sites have experienced Alexa rankings drop during those times (even John Chow has a post about this sudden drop), it is because the rankings has to be adjusted with the new algorithm based on traffic coming from general internet population.

    Please google it and correct me if I’m wrong. I was on-and-off from the internet last year so I was not really getting updates on time.

  9. Ya i also have problem from alexa and google.

  10. Donace :

    I’m not to fussed about alexa rank, but other people are, so keeping it at a good value is useful…Currently im round 200k Hopefully will get it down to 100k by the end of the year.

  11. qarla :

    maybe they are updating their bugs. I can see so many bugs with Alexa!

  12. qarla :

    omg, i downloaded the link you provided, i’m now included on the top 1 million my rank is now 723,474, but the Alexa displaying is only 1,8M!

  13. Melvin :

    Alexa is a crap but anyway its still nice to feel about having an Alexa rank below a 100,000. My blog used to be almost there and all of a sudden it went up to 200,000+ and i dont have an idea why…

    Melvin’s last blog post… MoreNiche, Great Affiliate Company

  14. Dewaji :

    open and look at 1,000,000 Sites list I think it’s wasting time. Cuase I don’t really care about my alexa rank, my main target is sell my affiliate by raising my traffic if there is visitor I’m really sure my alexa rank will update too.

  15. Domain Marvelous :

    Melvin, labeling something as “crap” and then expecting to get nice results out of that “crap” does not make sense. Of course, Alexa rankings are not perfect. But still no company would just design anything with the intention to make it “crap”. Amazon is doing its best to tweak the Alexa algorithms and the least we can do is appreciate that there exist some mechanism that offers a brief comparative tool to judge our progress in the cyberspace with all other websites.

  16. Harish :

    I don’t know why my alexa ranking is stuck on.Its not changing at all .I wonder what is ths problem.

  17. Nice find buddy. But i dont care much about Alexa these days. I hope they come up with a better algorithm

    Madhur Kapoor’s last blog post… PStart – Start Menu for Portable Devices

  18. Niche Titans :

    Alexa rank doesn’t even matter too much. Bloggers will make a big deal about the new algorithm, then just like last time, they’ll realize they have a crappy system that doesn’t work.

  19. Alexa rank has been one of the key gauge for potential advertisers of a blog since they do not have access to our stats tracking account. Thus, I think there is still value for looking closely at our Alexa rank should we want to monetize our sites through private ad sales.

    Wei Liang

  20. @Kurt, yep it may not be accurate and it can be manipulated. But at the same time, a lot fo people – including sponsors and advertisers – still use it and consider it as a shortlisting mechanism.

    @Shirley, I guess it is not having a major impact on blogs this time, unlike the update in April last year. You can keep your cool :) Alexa is more like getting those CMM or SEI standards. Big companies don’t bother about it much but mid size and upcoming ones need to prove their worth and potential so they care about it.

    @Frenchy, you are right… as I mentioned in the comment above, I don’t see a much bigger impact this time.

    @Donace, 9 out of 10 say they don’t care about it, but they are actually setting an Alexa target or goal for the year 😆

    @qarla, congrats on getting into the top million blogs!

    @Melvin, please check your reach values. With the same amount of traffic if people are viewing more pages per visit, your Alexa rank will be going up. That’s the reason why my Alexa rank is higher than some of the bigger and better blogs in this niche.

    @Dewaji, this was mainly a work around for those who were impatiently waiting for seeing their next ranks… Experienced people like you may not bother about it as much as an upcoming blogger does.

    @Forsaken, you are right. Amazon invested in Alexa and maintaining it as well to make sure that some kind of information is available about all websites in this world in terms of its reach and traffic. They are improving it continuosly but as we all know it can be hacked as well. So even if it’s ‘crap’ until a proper replacement is found, we may still use it

    @Harish, that’s exactly what we discussed in this post

    @Madhur, thanks man… In fact, the more experienced you get the lesser focussed you are on these ranks, right?

    @Niche, well… partly right. As I mentioned above, unless a proper replacement is available, the current crap may be useful to many :)

    @Felix, exactly – Your advertisers and sponsors first go by certain open metrics that are available – such as Alexa, Feedcount, Technorati etc. Only after that shortlisting process they may go after detailed server statistics and tracker results such as GA.

    Thanks everyone for your views. I have been busy with a couple of other things that I had to reply a day late. Sorry for that…

Speak Your Mind

*