Your Winning Alexa Game Plan

Ready to win the Alexa rankings game?  Here’s your game plan.

Three Simple Steps to Get a Better (Lower) Alexa Ranking

Step One: Research & Claim

The first step to ranking better is to do some research and learn how Alexa ratings work.

Start with the tour here: http://www.alexa.com/tour

Alexa ranks something like 16 million websites against each other based on relative traffic.  They also track interesting information like bounce rate, pageviews per visitor, search engine terms, and demographics.

Each website has a 3-month average ranking, as well as a 1-month and 7-day rank.  You can also compare your traffic and other analytics to different websites and see how you’re doing vs. your competition.  Here’s an example of the info Alexa will show you:

Learn more here: http://www.alexa.com/help/traffic-learn-more and even more detailed info is here: http://www.alexa.com/faqs/?cat=4

As part of your research, check out what your Alexa listing looks like right now and claim it if you haven’t yet.  To do this, go to http://www.alexa.com/siteowners/edit and enter your URL.  You’ll see the option to claim your site.  It does require creating an account or signing in through Facebook and following some steps to verify that you do own your website and have access to make changes/post content.

If you’re on Blogger, follow these steps instead.  If you’re on WordPress.com, follow these steps instead.

Step Two: Make Your Traffic Visible to Alexa

Alexa measures traffic–but only the traffic it can see.  It gets its sample data from internet users who’ve installed the toolbar and guesses from there (this is why it’s not reliable for sites that don’t have a ton of traffic yet). It also gathers data from sites that have the ranking javascript added, like I do in my footer.

So there are two ways to help Alexa see your traffic.

1) Add their javascript ranking icon to your website. Alexa offers website owners several choices of widgets they can add to their websites.  Here’s the one I chose:

If you’re already ranked well with Alexa, this is unlikely to change your rankings much since they’re probably seeing your traffic patterns accurately.  But if you have a very high ranking and know you’re getting more traffic than they’re showing, try installing it and it may help.  It certainly helped my site.  For the curious, Alexa does disclose that they use this javascript to help them measure traffic to your site (reference).

2) Run their toolbar on your browser. You can download it free at http://www.alexa.com/toolbar This is a snippet of what it looks like sitting on the top of my browser.  It’s not too annoying.

Step Three: Get More Traffic & Build More Links

Sounds simple, right?  If Alexa’s measuring traffic to sites then the best way to lower your rank is to get more traffic.  And if you’ve done step 2 which helps Alexa see your traffic more accurately, then the only other thing to focus on is building that traffic.

Get More Traffic

If Alexa’s goal is to measure the traffic to sites and rank them based on their % of overall internet traffic then the obvious way to get a better ranking is to get more traffic.  Use any legitimate strategy that works for you, for example:

  • Blogging – post new content frequently
  • Social networking – get out there and share your content and get contacts back to your website

There are lots of other ways to get more traffic.  This is something you want anyway, right?  So don’t worry about building traffic specifically for Alexa.  Do it so you can get more people to your site who you can serve with your products/services/information.

Building Links

There are many ways to build links to your website.  Here are some strategies you might include in your plan:

  • Link Directories
  • Blog Commenting
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • Article Marketing

More ways to get links: part one and part two.

One thing to know about building links is that Alexa has to SEE the link in order to include it.  This is one great reason to install the Alexa toolbar on your own browser.  If you then visit a website that’s linking to you and click that link to visit your site, Alexa will see the link.

Another note is that only one link from each site counts.  So if you do regular guest posts at a site, it only counts for one link no matter how many links there are back to your site.  Don’t let this stop you from showing up regularly at the right blogs or article directories though.  Remember, like any tool (Google, SEO, adsense, blog commenting, or any other tool or strategy in your online marketing arsenal), you need to consider it part of your overall strategy and not base everything you do around it.

They note on their site that they update links in once a month (reference here).  In the four months I’ve been watching my rankings, I’ve only seen it update once, for whatever that’s worth.

Rinse and Repeat

Now, keep going.  Watch your Alexa ranking.  Continue putting out good content, drawing in traffic, and building links to your website.  Try to wait patiently without obsessing.  It’s hard.  I know.  But it may drive you insane if you check your ranking every day and watch it bounce like crazy.

Bonus Tips & Tools

* Invite your readers and fans to leave you reviews on the Alexa website.  I couldn’t tell specifically if this helped my rankings but it does help you build credibility for your website.  Alexa offers some buttons you can use to encourage your readers to leave a review.  I just blogged about it one day and then asked my Facebook fans to consider adding their review.  (And I’d love if you’d consider it, too!  You can review me at: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/michelleshaeffer.com)

* If you blog about Alexa, chances are good that people who are interested in Alexa will find your post.  A higher percentage of these people may be running the Alexa toolbar.  This may help you some.

* Alexa offers a customized version of their toolbar that you can create and give away to your visitors.  If enough of your visitors are willing to download and use the toolbar, this can help you rank lower/better.  Consider your visitors (are they tech savvy?) and your own goals (does creating this type of tool somehow help support your readers or provide value?) in deciding whether it’s good fit for your website.

* Yes, you can “game” the system.  There are tips online various places to help you do that.  But if you do, you’re losing the value of the tool.  It’s value is in helping you see your traffic trends, analyze where you’re at, and improve.  Just focus on helping Alexa get a good look at your traffic, then building that traffic, and you’ll see your rank moving in the direction you want it to.

* Alexa is on Twitter and they look like they’re very responsive to tweets.  So if you’ve got questions or run into trouble, I’d try tweeting them for help: http://twitter.com/AlexaInternet

XOs Photo Credit: IvicaNS/StockFresh.com

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18 Comments

  1. Noticed tonight my ranking jumped UP 50k in a matter of hours. Probably because I haven’t blogged or visited blogs in a week while on vacation. Time to get back to work and thanks Michelle for all the tips in your article. You’ve done a fabulous job getting your ranking so low!!!
    Rhonda Neely recently posted… How Did We Get to This Place of Such Unkindness and Hatred?My Profile

    1. Thanks, Rhonda. It’s been interesting to watch it change. And yep, once you get back to work yours will jump back down. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How I Got My Alexa Ranking Under 100,000My Profile

  2. Great job of explaining this. Getting very techie! I like that.
    Robin Smith recently posted… 6 Smart Ways to Make Sure Co-Workers Don’t Waste Your TimeMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Robin. I like simple steps, I know it makes it easier for me to follow. :)

  3. […] Your Winning Alexa Game Plan […]

  4. Thanks Michelle, for this tips you’ve shared with us about using alexa game plan, I will try this now.
    elpidio recently posted… Pastor Rest and Recreation 2010My Profile

  5. Great info that answered so many of my questions! Thanks!
    denny hagel recently posted… Pedophiles and Predators…How When and How Often Do You Talk to Your Children?My Profile

    1. You’re welcome, Denny. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Great information, Michelle!

    I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible on this subject and you have given me some very simple steps to put into action immediately.

    Thanks!

  7. I’m a blogger but I also own a popular jewelry site which has terrible Alexa rankings. It’s probably because my customers aren’t terribly tech-savvy. I doubt very many have the Alexa toolbar installed. On the other hand, my main blog (which doesn’t get that many more visitors than the jewelry site) ranks much higher and is poised to break 100,000 in October.

    As you point out, one can game Alexa rankings, but once you stop gaming, your rank changes anyway so I really don’t see the point to it.
    Charleen Larson recently posted… Fiverr Video Stars Contest coming Monday 8/8. Win free gigs!My Profile

    1. Yeah, a lot of the tactics I’ve seen out there to mess with the Alexa ranks just seemed a little silly because they wouldn’t necessarily have any affect on helping us reach the right audience for our websites. Random traffic isn’t what we’re after. :)

      That definitely affects it (whether they’ve got the toolbar installed). I found that adding the javascript really made a difference because then Alexa could see my traffic. But, if you have an audience who isn’t tech savvy, that Alexa rank is probably unknown to them, so not worth much as far as building credibility in that case.

  8. I dont know about others but i just cant enhale the fact that any website can improve the ranking by having toolbar installed and then start visiting every page of your site.
    If this is main forumla, then let me say here, this is all waste of time.
    Now the toolbar is the ONLY source of alexa to gather traffic info? If there are any others, kindly let me know.

    Regards,
    Faheem recently posted… Hello world!My Profile

    1. Hi Faheem, as I understand it Alexa will only count each toolbar user once per day per site. So if I install the toolbar, it doesn’t matter how many pages of my website I visit today, it only counts as one person visiting. :) But yes, that can help because especially for lower-traffic sites, Alexa needs to know there’s traffic hitting the site and the toolbar use shows them that. For a higher-traffic site (like top couple thousand), one person installing and using the toolbar likely wouldn’t make any difference because there’s a wider sample size of traffic already visible to Alexa/

      And no, that’s not what I suggest at all for a main formula. I’m suggesting that we look at Alexa as a traffic trends tool and don’t try to game it because then it loses it’s value. So the formula to lower rankings it simply to get more traffic (but to help Alexa see that traffic for those of us who are smaller fish right now). Hope that makes sense.

      Alexa does use other sources for traffic, but it relies heavily on it’s toolbar especially for lower traffic websites.

  9. Its all about having toolbar and visiting the site with it. You keep opening your site and you will see the rise in ranking.

    This is all totally unfair.

    My suggestion is to work on quality content and traffic will come eventually. Dont bother about Alexa drama.
    WordsCanSpeak recently posted… Confessions of a NarcissistMy Profile

  10. Again, I love this topic! So many companies want to see a good alexa ranking.

    Here’s a question – alexa has an upgrade option so you can see and share more stats – does this improve your ranking with them? Just wondering…

    gina~
    Gina Macaluso recently posted… 7 Reasons Why You Should DetoxMy Profile

    1. It’s not supposed to affect ranking, it just gives you more information about your stats and visitors. :) I did claim my site with them and I recommend that step, it’s free.

  11. Michelle, again another winning article. We have followed your advice. Our Alexa ranking is improving weekly. http://www.NewVideos.com did everything that you suggested and our Alexa Ranking is at 102,000 in the US in just 3 months.

    Please keep up the good work. I really find your blog an informative tool.

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