Peter Norvig Criticizes Alexa

in Blogging, SEO/SEM by

Peter Norvig is the director of research at Google and a post on his blog weighs in on the whole Alexa is Awesome vs. Alexa is Flawed debate.

He has published some of his web stats on his blog showing that, although his site gets about twice the pageviews of Matt Cutt’s blog, Matt’s blog has an Alexa pageview ranking that is roughly 25 times better than Norvig’s. That would seem to indicate some unreliable data, at least in terms of measuring web site traffic.

Basically, a site gets credit for an Alexa pageview ONLY when a visitor views that site through a web browser which has the Alexa Toolbar installed. Meaning, no Alexa Toolbar installed, no Alexa pageview credited. And, since the Alexa toolbar only works with Internet Explorer, that means that if most of your visitors are using Firefox (or Opera), Alexa is not giving you credit for pageviews.

In addition, we had a post a while back about how one can manipulate Alexa ranking and how that fact also really devalues its benefit as a true measure of web site traffic.

Unfortunately, many of the companies which a blogger could use to make some revenue from their blog (ie. PayPerPost, Text-Link-Ads and others) use a web site’s Alexa ranking when determining the value of an ad placed on that web site.

So, if your blog does not have a high Alexa ranking, you will not be compensated as well by advertisers, despite the fact that your ranking may not be a true representation of your web site traffic and that an Alexa ranking can be artificially inflated :(.

    EDIT:
    Dan brought out a great point in his comment and I should clarify. PayPerPost (and Text-link-ads) offer a web site’s Alexa data as a source of information for an advertiser to consider. It is up to the individual advertiser to decide how to view that information. My problem is more with the fact that the Alexa information is even used as a possible source of accurate information regarding a web site. I wish there was a better alternative :(.

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5 thoughts on “Peter Norvig Criticizes Alexa

  1. VC Dan

    Actually, as a marketplace PayPerPost doesn’t really make any Alexa requirements. Alexa is just one of multiple segmentation options sponsors can pick for targeting their sponsorships. Therefore, sponsors who see value in Alexa, may use it and sponsors who do not, will not.

  2. Anthony

    Madhur – thanks for sounding off!

    Dan – I guess my issue is that advertisers even attribute any substance to Alexa rankings in the first place. However, you are exactly right about PPP as a marketplace, they simply offer Alexa information and the advertiser chooses to heed or ignore. I will have to edit my post to make that clear. Thanks for pointing that out :).

  3. VC Dan

    “I wish there was a better alternative”

    Me too — sounds like there’s an opportunity out there for someone to harness IE & Firefox hit data in an surfer-anonymous fashion to provide comprehensive/relative reporting for the net 😉

  4. Anthony

    I agree, Dan. I am actually surprised that there has not been something like that already. Let me know when you have the Alpha version ready ;).

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