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How Does Alexa Rank Measure Search Engine Optimization?

by | Mar 4, 2021

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Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. Because this myth is so persistent in some circles, let’s look at the reasons why Alexa Rank does not impact or measure the success of your search engine optimization (SEO).

The first sign that you shouldn’t use Alexa Rank as an SEO measuring stick comes from Alexa’s frequently asked questions.

“How are Alexa’s Traffic Ranks determined? Traffic estimates and ranks are based on the browsing behavior of people in our global data panel by default. The rank is calculated using a proprietary methodology that combines a site’s average of daily unique visitors and its number of pageviews over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of unique visitors and pageviews is ranked #1.”

— Alexa.com

Alexa Rank is based on traffic from all digital channels — direct, email, search, social, etc. So using it to judge SEO performance (or that of any other digital channel) is inherently flawed. 

For example, two sites could have nearly identical Alexa Ranks: One site you’re tracking could get 900 visits from organic search and 100 visits from direct traffic. Another could get 100 from organic search and 900 from direct traffic. The two sites would look like their SEO programs were equally successful with 1,000 visits each, even though the data in that site’s analytics software would show that their organic search performance was radically different.

Alexa Rank is based on a panel of users — which means that the behavior of a fraction of worldwide users determines the Alexa Rank for each site. Relying on that for your search marketing performance is like relying on 1% of your sales data to determine your business’s profitability.

Since Google controls the search marketing world, only data from Google can accurately tell you how you’re performing relative to other domains on Google. 

The metrics from tools like SEMrush or seoClarity are more valid measures of SEO performance across many domains because they get their data from two pieces of the Google Ads API:

  1. Google Ads Keyword Planner data, which shows how many people search for individual keyword themes in a given month and how much advertisers paid for ads on those keywords
  2. Google search results, also from the Google Ads API

In addition, those tools and the others like them enable you to plug in your analytics data and data from your Google Search Console account, making them even more informative and accurate.

When it comes to judging your organic search performance, the best data source will always be your own Google Analytics in conjunction with the data from the platform you’re advertising on. All other tools are estimates of performance. Only Google Analytics and Google Search Console can accurately portray organic search performance for your site. 

So, to any question about how Alexa Rank impacts or measures SEO performance, the answer is that it doesn’t.

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