Is Google Analytics The Only Viable Traffic Entity?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 30, 2017
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was doing an experiment on one of my other blogs by writing a blog post a day for a month. Tomorrow ends that month and, though it’s been harder than any other challenge I’ve ever given myself, I’ll close out the month by accomplishing that feat; yay for me! lol
Yet, something happened that I thought was really strange. Usually having a lot of content helps your traffic ranking go up; at least via Alexa, which is the only easily visible tool I have to go by. Instead, every day my ranking went down until, with a week to go, I was suddenly unranked. What the hey?
Last year I wrote an article talking about how writing a blog post a day didn’t work for one of my other blogs for December 2015. However, I figured that one out, realizing it had more to do with mobile speed than anything regarding the actual content. Yet, even then my ranking didn’t drop, but pretty much stayed the same.
This time though… well, I was a bit dismayed by what I was seeing. I figured it was time to do take a look at my traffic via Google Analytics, which is always recommended, as the first step towards a traffic audit.
You can imagine my surprise when I saw that, instead of my traffic falling, it had actually increased over 300% from the previous 30 days. A couple of the posts actually got some pretty nice traffic, which is rare for that blog since most of the content is about local stuff. So then… if my traffic actually increased, why did Alexa drop me into the void?
I don’t have anything definitive; truthfully, I’ve always seen Alexa as kind of a global barometer of website health and nothing overly specific. I’ve never added the toolbar because the way I saw it, I’d be ranking myself against only other sites that used it instead of everyone. It sounded good on paper.
I decided to do what I do; research it. I came across this post titled Alexa Rank Dropping Fast in April 2016 – [Case Study], which looked at a lot of very popular and large sites and tracked how their traffic had decreased drastically… at least via Alexa. One of the funny stats is that Alexa’s own site lost ground as well.
The article alluded to a blog post by Alexa themselves talking about an increase in the size of Alexa’s Global Traffic Panel… whatever that is. Supposedly by doing this particular thing, more websites would see their rankings increase; nope didn’t happen. Actually, it was intriguing to find out that Alexa even had a blog.
After that… there were very few articles about it that were recent. Most of the discussion traffic was on forums… and that was fruitless, with most of the responders saying “why are you concerned with Alexa anyway?” A couple stated something about it being related to something in our .htaccess files. I did notice that a couple months after changing those on all my sites when I was working on my mobile speed that Alexa stopped showing my traffic growing and all of them started going in the other direction. The timing was close but a bit imprecise so that doesn’t seem like a viable conclusion in my case.
I get that. I’ve heard that one for years, and while I’ve always taken a slightly different view about it’s importance, I also recognized that those same traffic numbers didn’t quite match what I was seeing in my Analytics panel, let alone matching up to what I was seeing on other blogs whose traffic I knew was less than my own. At the same time, I was usually only doing month by month comparisons, almost never looking at 90-day totals, which Alexa is based on.
Regardless, after all these years I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Alexa isn’t getting the job done any longer. At this juncture, the only site I know that’s giving me accurate traffic numbers… even if I don’t always like them. I’ve removed the app I’ve always used to track Alexa and I’m not replacing it with anything. I realize it’s time to track my traffic using Google and nothing else for the moment… unless one of you responds and tells me of something else that’s worth taking a look at to compare with other sites.
Traffic numbers are important because all of us hopes to get as many people as possible to look at what we’re doing on our blogs, whether we’re trying to make money from it or not. Looking at your traffic and how people are finding you is pretty important stuff. Most of it probably has to do with how you decide to market yourself but content is, in my opinion, as important as the marketing piece. As long as you’re using a credible tool, at least you’ll have an idea of what you might need to do to change things.
Alexa, unfortunately, isn’t it…