Do Alexa rankings have any meaning?

When you'd like to evaluate the popularity of a web-site where you don't have access to the logs, you don't have much choices. Alexa (that belongs to Amazon) collects some statistics.

It is far from being exact, but it does have some correllation to the real visitor counts and pageviews.

According to their description the ranking is calculated based on the pageviews and visits a site received in the 3 months preceding the given date, while the Alexa toolbar was active in the browser of the visitor. In addition some web-sites install the Alexa code on their site which provides them details analyzis about their visitors, and allows Alexa to better correllate the data they get from the toolbars and the real visitor count.

While it has its flaws, the Alexa ranking can provide a feeling about the popularity of a web site.

In order to connect that number to the real number of pageviews and visits, let me show you the numbers I saw in the Google Analytics dashboard of a few sites:

Site Alexa Monthly Pageviews Monthly sessions Users Pageview/
session
Pageview/
user
szabgab.com 1,796,5672,861 2,122 1,938 1.3 1.5
Padre, Perl IDE 743,673 30,162 12,390 10,484 2.5 2.9
Strawberry Perl 396,755 43,746 33,705 28,358 1.3 1.5
Perl Maven 95,990 271,873 198,040 125,334 1.3 2.1
MetaCPAN 70,528 602,966 182,666 96,053 3.3 6.3
search.cpan.org 13,213 1,493,374 655,429 387,509 2.3 3.8

In additon I found a few websites that advertise their visitor count:

Site (source) Alexa Monthly Pageviews Monthly sessions Users Pageview/
session
Pageview/
user
E1.ru
(src)
3,376 7,188,896 843,309 445,110 8.5 16.2
Tutorialspoint
(src)
1,102 35,000,000 15,000,000 2.3
w3schools
(src)
198 125,000,000 35,000,000 3.6
Stack Overflow
(src)
59 419,553,472 175,517,008 28,588,088 2.4 15.0
Reddit
(src)
33 6,175,912,111 174,088,361 35.0

On the w3school site I found 1,500,000,000 pageviews / year which means 125,000,000 pageviews / month. 35,000,000 visits / month That means or 3.6 pageviews / visits which probably means sessions in Google Analytics.

At the bottom of E1.ru there is an arrow leading to the stats.

I have not included Reddit in that chart becasue then everything, including the Satck Overflow seemed to be 0.

Caveat

We don't really know how reliable the numbers provided by those site are.

In general the overall number of users and number of pageviews in world is growing which means the same Alexa ranking will indicate a lot more pageviews a year from now, than what we see now.

Quantcast might be an interesting alternative to Alexa.

Published on 2014-12-28 by Gabor Szabo
Code::Maven
Python, JavaScript, Node.js, Ruby, and more.

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