Today I posted about how Alexa wants people to pay for Alexa Pro Accounts to see backlinks. I realized a lot of people probably are not aware of what Alexa is and why you should and shouldn't pay attention to your Alexa Traffic Rank and the data the company provides about your websites.
For those that don't know Alexa is a company that tracks data about websites all over the internet. Alexa gives you information such as what keywords people are using to find a site, audience, and other information. People can also leave reviews about what they think of websites and if they have good content or not. The most widely known metric they use is Alexa Traffic Rank.
Alexa's Traffic Rank is supposed to show the traffic your sites generates against the millions of other websites out there. There is usually a Global Rank and it will show you which country you get the most traffic from.
While this can be somewhat useful data, to be honest I try not to pay too much attention to the Alexa Traffic Rank of my own websites as it is a distracting and not useful metric to think about. Why? Alexa ranks can be widely inaccurate as it only counts visits from people that have the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser. That means a lot of people without the Alexa toolbar could be visiting a site but overall that website might not be generating that much traffic. I've actually seen this firsthand several times on other people's websites.
I've seen plenty of high traffic sites with a good following have a low Alexa rank. Some sites which are getting traffic may not even have an Alexa traffic rank at all. Alexa even has admitted that some of the data they provide may not be entirely accurate and a lot of webmasters do not pay attention to it.
Even though everyone pretty much agrees Alexa rank is not always accurate it is something you should be somewhat aware of. The thing is potential advertisers will probably check your Alexa traffic rank before they decide to advertise on your blogs or websites. They are other sites you can use such as Quantcast and Compete but both of these don't provide much data unless you pay for a subscription every month. Up until now Alexa provide amount of their data for free.
So unfortunately Alexa rank is one of those Catch-22's. You know it isn't something to worry about all the time but a lot of people will check it if they want to do business with you and your websites. So it is something to be aware of even though I would definitely not think about it too much.
Something else to know Alexa is that they are owned by Amazon. I assume Amazon likes having all that data to figure out what to sell to people.