Those new to the online world often understand that traffic is the bread and butter of measuring performance. Whether the purpose of the website is to share news and information through a blog or commercial venture or make sales directly to customers, traffic numbers are essential for achieving the overall goals of exposure and conversion.
Building traffic, earning reputation and gaining a repeat following take time and effort. There are metrics that can help website operators gauge how well they are doing. For newcomers uncertain of what metrics to use or rankings to follow, it can be confusing whether to chase Alexa ranking standings or to focus on boosting organic traffic. The reality is this isn’t a “versus” question. It’s more of a cart before the horse issue with organic traffic being the horse that can pull the Alexa cart forward.
Alexa Ranking in a Nutshell
Alexa is a global analytics company that tracks traffic and other metrics-related data for websites around the world. It updates rankings regularly on such factors as page views and unique visitors. The company keeps a running list of rankings on a by-country and global basis.
Alexa ranking is an indication of how well a website is performing overall and it also helps users gain insights on areas for improvement while enabling them to see how their performance stacks up to the competition. It’s important to note that Alexa traffic rankings may not deliver an apples-to-apples site comparison. A news organization’s website, for example, may have a No. 100 national ranking while a highly popular shopping portal may rank in the Top 10 for the United States.
Organic Traffic in a Nutshell
Organic traffic is a metric or measure that describes the number of people who visit a website naturally because the site pops up as relevant to them in an online search, such as those provided by Google. This type of traffic is generated through non-paid means, which means it doesn’t include advertising efforts, such as traffic generated by a per-per-click campaign. Organic traffic is often considered among the most valuable for website operators because it involves people who are visiting sites because the content or products offered truly fit their needs. That means the likelihood that a visitor will “convert” to perform the desired action (read a news story, make a purchase and so on) is high since they have arrived by choice.
Essentially, there isn’t a question of Alexa Traffic Rank versus organic traffic. The numbers generated from organic traffic play into the Alexa ranking itself, along with a number of other factors. Both numbers can help website operators see how heavily trafficked their sites are and if efforts at improving traffic and the potential for desired conversions are paying off.
What Plays into Alexa Ranking
Alexa’s traffic rankings are based on the browsing behavior of people included in the company’s global data panel, which is a sample of all Internet users combined. The traffic data provided by users of this panel is measured over a rolling 3-month period with rankings updated daily. A site’s ranking is based on a combined measure of unique visitors and page views. The unique visitors number is based on the number of unique Alexa panel members who visit a website on a given day.
Website operators may also choose to have their site metric’s certified by Alexa. This involves placing a special script on the site so Alexa can bypass panel estimations for a more accurate reading of traffic numbers. This, in turn, can result in a more accurate Alexa ranking.
What that all adds up to is the need for those who wish to boost their Alexa ranking to take measures to bolster their overall traffic numbers. While it’s true that advertising campaigns can help on this and are often vital, organic measures, as discussed, are generally no- or low-cost and tend to result in traffic that is considered highly valuable.
Keep in mind that while Alexa rankings serve as a valuable tool for measuring site performance and enabling comparison with other websites, they may also prove critical for those who wish to host advertising on their websites. Alexa rankings are often considered closely by those seeking outlets on which to advertising, meaning they can help with revenue-generating efforts.
Tips for Boosting Organic Numbers and Alexa Ranking
Boosting organic traffic, and consequently the potential for a higher Alexa ranking, requires carefully calculated measures designed to pull people into a website. Some of the measures that can be taken to achieve the goal include:
Posting engaging, original content – Websites that are frequently updated and deliver value to their audiences tend to do well in rankings with Google, Yahoo and other search engines. This, in turn, can boost organic traffic by enabling a website’s content to rank high in searches for specific terms. An offshoot benefit of frequent updates of quality content is that people often tend to share this type of information within their own networks, which is called link building. This increases the number of eyes on content and can increase overall traffic levels as a result.
Inbound linking – Website operators who want to increase their standing with search engines while potentially bolstering exposure may help themselves by getting other related sites to link to them. This also lends credibility to websites. This is often achieved by either adding links to related websites’ content within content on the personal site, encouraging reciprocation, or by reaching out directly to other publishers. Internal linking, which involves linking to other pages on a personal website, can also help. The key for both measures, however, is to ensure that high-quality, original content is used for the linking.
Studying the competition – Take a close look at how competitors are performing on Alexa and look at the top performers’ websites. Review their tactics to see what is working and seek to adopt similar measures that are applicable. Also pay attention to keywords competitors’ use in their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
Follow SEO best practices – Using relevant search terms within copy on a website can help boost incoming organic traffic related to those terms. Be sure best practices are followed, however, or a site could be penalized. If the website in question seeks to sell sunglasses, for example, relevant search terms might include words and terms related to the products offered. Trying to incorporate unrelated search terms, however, can result in penalization by the search engines, which may lower overall traffic. This might happen, for example, if that sunglass company tried to incorporate SEO related to the entertainment industry just because a particular star’s name is trending.
When it’s a question of whether to chase Alexa ranking versus boosting organic traffic, it’s almost a no-brainer. Gain solid, incoming organic traffic for a website and chances are an improved Alexa ranking will follow. Be mindful, however, that Alexa rankings include all types of websites, so an apples-to-apples comparison with those in the specific industry may prove difficult. The best advice is to simply perform well for the desired audience by delivering high quality content and useful information. Everything else should fall into place.