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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005, 6:20 pm

Alexa Rank Mistakes

AlexRank
SearchStatus in action

SITE ranks are largely volatile and this post addresses the issue by referring to a few case studies. msn.com has just returned to PageRank 9, having stooped down to PageRank 2 during early stages of an ongoing Google update (Jagger Update was briefly mentioned in the past). Moreover, I have just noticed an Alexa rank (context/what is Alexa) oddity:

If one takes a glimpse at:

http://www.slate.com/

It’s surprising that it bears the Alexa rank of 2, which means that it is (grossly) estimated second in the world in terms of Web traffic.

Surprising, is it not?

Flicking back to MSN (Yahoo has been number 1 for quite some time and Google is typically third):

msn.com bears the Alexa rank of 2 just as well.

Are Alexa ranks not telling the full story? Is that a bug? It is a form of ambiguity, but not quite so. Perhaps Slate Magazine have plenty of traffic, but judging by other traffic metrics such as Netscraft, that is highly doubtful if not impossible. So how can it be on par with MSN? I used to think that Alexa provided a meaningful measure for the top 100 or so sites. Recently, it lost its credibility for a whole variety of reasons. For example, its spying on the innocent surfers recently led to my observation that the Web Archive can crawl hidden pages.

Mind you, the PageRank oddity mentioned above is not to be ignored either. It reminds us all that PageRank should be with a pinch of salt, especially throughout major updates of the indices.

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