Collin Maesson at realsceptic.com has written a couple of articles about the value, or lack thereof, of using Alexa rankings to monitor blog popularity. You can read them here and here. Since Collin is in the business of software development, he knows about such things as statistical monitoring and web page ranking services and about how best to monitor readership. Knowing something about readership is important if you care about your readers. If you know your blog is losing readership, you can do something about it (if you care).
Recently HotWhopper's Alexa rankings began to drop off from a low of around 382,000 late last year (lower is better) to the current 1,003,243 (as at Feb 4 2014) - which is where it was back in the first week of July last year. Thing is, back in June last year, HotWhopper was only six months old and, according to Google Analytics got 29,358 page views for the month. In January this year it got 59,800 or double June's page views. So it seems rather strange that HotWhopper's Alexa ranking went down so much while its page views doubled.
Collin noticed the improvement in Alexa ratings of his own blog and was curious as to why HotWhopper appeared to be dropping in popularity. He asked if I'd allow him to analyse our stats, which I was more than happy for him to do. He wrote the results up on his blog here. After Collin approached me I did a Google search and came across this article, which had almost identical results.
I'm guessing that the sort of people who use the Alexa toolbar are not the same people who visit sites like HotWhopper. The people who use the Alexa toolbar don't care (or maybe don't know) about the spyware that gets installed with the toolbar. Anyway, Collin speculated that Alexa may have got HotWhopper's ranking wrong compared to his blog, writing in part:
...It’s probably because I’ve written about Alexa a couple of times and I have a high ranking for my Alexa content in Google searches. My website is often displayed on the first page in Google, I can see that with the statistics I have in Google Webmaster Tools. What you need to realize about this is that people who search for information about Alexa rankings tend to be Alexa users, which means that there’s a good chance that they also have the Alexa toolbar installed.
So this article is a little experiment. It's about Alexa, so it might pop up in web searches for Alexa or Alexa ratings or Alexa toolbar or Alexa popularity. If it does then maybe, as Collin surmises, HotWhopper will get a few visits from people who have the Alexa toolbar installed. If that's the case, then HotWhopper's ranking on Alexa should rise. We'll see.
PS I'm burying this by pre-dating it by a few days, so most normal HotWhopper readers probably won't see it. It's just an experiment after all.
3 February 2014