ALEXA RANKINGS ARE BIASED, reported Loren Baker in Search Engine Journal last week. Apparently, Google’s Director of Research Peter Norvig recently compared his site’s Alexa score with those of Matt Cutts, Paul Graham, Jeremy Zawodny and Greg Linden and found a definite reporting difference for sites that are search or web marketing related and those which are not. Norvig wrote:
“… I get about twice the pageviews of mattcutts.com, but his Alexa pageview ranking is about 25 times more than mine (I got this by looking at the 1 year, most highly smoothed graph, and then squinting to guess at the mean).
“What that means is that people with the Alexa toolbar installed are 25 times more likely to view a page on Matt’s site versus mine, but overall, all users view twice as many pages on my site.
“That’s a 50 to 1 difference introduced by the selection bias of Alexa. Presumably this is because Matt’s site is really appealing to a core group of SEO enthusiasts, many of whom also like the Alexa toolbar.”
IN A SIMILAR VEIN, John Chow wrote:
“Alexa is a tool that many webmasters and advertisers used to gauge the size of a website. The Alexa ranking is based on a three month running average. The number shown is where a site ranks on the internet… The main problem with Alexa is its rankings are based on users who have installed the Alexa toolbar onto their browser. If you do not have the toolbar running, you do not affect the rankings of the sites you visit. The next big problem with Alexa is it is very easy to cheat the system. Just get a few friends to install the toolbar and have them surf your site everyday. It does not take many people to break into the top 100,000. You can even do it all by yourself by refreshing your site over and over again. Get a dozen friends to do it and you’re break into top 20,000 easily.”
Alexa, by the way, works only on Internet Explorer. Now, perhaps all these explain why this blog’s Alexa ranking is 6,588,931? However, why two particularly trivial links which have nothing to do with this blog are listed in Alexa — they are totally different from the many links recognized by Technorati and 10,500 found via a Google search? Also, how is it that an empty blog such as one that’s created by default in an Elgg community blog and my Elgg profile could be ranked 64,954? Hmmm… just because both are on Elgg.net (also ranked 64,954)? Sheeeshh… no wonder! My test blog at Blogger.com has a rank of 15, just like Blogger itself!
When I scrolled to the bottom of an Alexa page, I found this statement, “Alexa’s directory listings are provided by Open Directory and enhanced by Alexa”. At the Open Directory (a.k.a. Dmoz) site, I read that it apparently has 75,151 editors and 4,830,584 sites listed in over 590,000 categories. According to one of its Help pages, “Depending on the activity level of the editors in your area, it may take up to 2 weeks or more for your site to be reviewed.”
However, I’ve tried for months and my blog is still not listed on this Open Directory. The oft-repeated reason given on support forum had been along this line: There has been a huge backlog and the editors couldn’t find enough time to clear that yet.
Likewise, I’ve tried for months to claim my blog on Technorati, but to no avail. The reason (given by Admin) looks familiar: My blog (along with many others) apparently could have been flagged for review, the support staff are facing a huge backlog and couldn’t find enough time to clear that yet.
I wonder. When I cannot claim my blog on Technorati, is my blog considered non-existent to Technorati? A search among the blog posts in Technorati yields 11 links, but a search in the blog directory yields this error message:
There are blogs, and then there’s whatever you just typed in. If it’s a blog, we don’t know about it. Maybe you made a typo. Or maybe it’s a blog that doesn’t exist. Maybe you don’t exist. (In which case, please ignore this.)”
While I truly appreciate the invaluable services that Alexa, Dmoz and Technorati provide, I also truly don’t understand what is meant by “flagged for review”. Who flags a bona-fide blog for review by Technorati and thereby stop it from being claimed even by its legitimate owner? In any case, is there a way to open up this listing of blogs that have been flagged for review, Digg-style perhaps, so that more people can comment on them and thus help the editors/admin guys speed up and clear this site-listing backlog?
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