Is Google Analytics The Only Viable Traffic Entity?

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

alex logo 1
Creative Commons License brar_j via Compfight

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…
 

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26 comments on “Is Google Analytics The Only Viable Traffic Entity?

  • Purushottam Thakur says:

    Hello Mitch Sir, As per some SEO experts, 2017 Update: Alexa is no more same as before. So there is no point considering Alexa rank. You should rather focus on improving your domain authority.

    Reply
  • Purushottam Thakur says:

    Well, you can google it or visit http://www.moz.com to know more better about it. There is also that tool, there you can check your own Domain and Page Authority.
    Domain authority is a logarithmic score (ranging from 0-100) by Moz, which predicts how well a domain (web page) will rank in the search engine results. It is based on some other factors like Moz Rank, Moz Trust, social signals, linking root domains, total backlink profile, user experience, site loading time, traffic, etc.

    Reply
    • I checked that Moz site and I wasn’t sure how to use it. I was looking for a place to put my domain name in to check… nothing I could find. Domain authority might be cool. There was something many years ago I used but I can’t remember what it is now.

      Reply
      • Purushottam Thakur says:

        If you can’t find that tool, here is direct link to that tool to check your domain authority, page authority, spam score, etc. here at moz.com/researchtools/ose.

      • Purushottam Thakur says:

        Actually, you cannot “remove” JavaScript from a computer because there’s nothing to remove. JavaScript is simply a client/browser scripting language used by web browsers.
        You can access that link from any web browser with JavaScript enabled.

  • This is some Ancient Stuff… Sir Mitch
    Because as per my personal experience the Alexa Rankings of a Site does not matter as much as it did 5 Years Back.
    And I feel that the current situation will change in future too.

    Reply
    • Well… it is and it isn’t. People have banged against Alexa for close to a decade, but it always had its place in looking at traffic rankings… even without the toolbar. As time has gone on and they’ve revamped their paid model and some other things, it’s pretty much become useless when compared to other tools. I’m one of those people who has to investigate things on my own before I believe or disbelieve them; in this case, my research has led me to lose total faith in them.

      Reply
  • Robert Lester says:

    Hello Mitch, First of all, nice topic.

    When I Check the Alexa of gmail its shows rank 1.It means a large number of users engaged with gmail in every minute.

    Alexa has its own algorithm and it’s totally different from google analytics.

    Stat Counter and Google Analytics are the best tool for check traffic. Because you got the proper detail of organic and inorganic visitors from them.

    It depends upon the users, which they want to be preferred.

    Reply
    • That’s why I’m going to stick with Google Analytics Robert. I came across another article last night talking about traffic rankings via Alexa and how unreliable they’ve recently become. I just have to get out of the habit of looking at the top of my browser for the number. lol

      Reply
    • I’d agree Remsun, advertisers see Alexa as an easy to use tool without asking many questions about its accuracy. It’s like seeing how many followers someone has without asking if those followers are real or not.

      Reply
  • Hey Mitch,

    Google Analytics is the best place to check traffic, I just can not think of using nay other tool as I believe no other tool can go anywhere close to where Google Analytics is.

    But there was time when Alexa use to give good details about traffic, but presently, it is just waste of time, although advertisers still find ti helpful, but I do not find.

    Anyways, great post dear.

    ~ Jenny
    Jenny Rev recently posted…Welcome to The 100k Factory Revolution Reviews BlogMy Profile

    Reply
    • Alexa was always sketchy, but you could use it to figure out where you stood in the global view of things. That seems to have gone away, so now it’s fairly useless to most of us… and that’s too bad…

      Reply
  • Hi Mitch,

    Google Analytics is one of the best methods to analyze our website traffic. But I am not using it regularly.

    If you are a WordPress user, you will get one more option. Status counter plugin. It will more details about visitors including referring URL, geographical location, how many pages they have visited etc.

    I like your post and way of writing.

    Have a nice week ahead.
    Manoj recently posted…How to Add Nofollow Tag to All External Links in WordPressMy Profile

    Reply
    • Thanks Manoj. I’ve tried some of those plugins but they never seemed to work well with this blog for some reason. Still, others might benefit from your suggestions so I thank you for sharing them.

      Reply
  • Does anyone seriously use Alexa anymore? All the tools used to be free, then Amazon bought it and jacked up the price to $147/mo. Sure, you can get basic stats, but once again, you (and your sites) are the product, not the customer. They only measure views from people who have their toolbar installed (and that may be inflated by your OWN views, as far as I can tell). So it’s still skewed towards people who care about Alexa rankings. As that becomes fewer and fewer of us, it has kind of a swirly effect, don’t you think? I agree that MOZ is probably a more credible ranking (and I will tell you that for my favorite product review opportunities, they usually ask, now, for Moz – not Alexa – and look for a DA over 30 with a low spam score).

    Honestly, all I really care about is readers. Google Analytics is maybe one of the more credible metrics, but I got hit, recently, with the weird “bounce rate spam” out of Russia, and that threw off the stats until I figured out how to filter them. For me, the BEST metric is still comments. And there are precious few of those, these days – but you, my friend, are right at the TOP of my Top Commenters, and for that, I thank you.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Skating on Thin Ice: The Still Power of Water and WordsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Actually, it turns out a lot of people are still using Alexa. I only looked at it as a global thing, like you mentioned, because I figured at the very least it would tell us whether we were increasing or decreasing in traffic. On another blog someone wrote that it’s still considered a big thing for some advertisers, and I’d believe that. Still, since I can’t trust it anymore I’ve moved on.

      I’m the top commenter on your blog? Cool! 😀

      Reply
  • Oh, I think Manoj was recommending the StatCounter plug-in, and if so, I’ll second that. They’ve been around even longer than Google Analytics or Alexa, I think – if memory serves, they grew up out of one of the old “free hit counters” we all had and loved, and now provide the most detailed stats about visitors than I think we can get, really. You can filter out your own visits with a cookie (just have to check periodically to be sure it hasn’t expired or been deleted). It’s great, and they do have a WordPress plug-in now so you can view your stats from within the dashboard. HIGHLY recommend that one!
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Here, Hold My Beer – Watch Me Break Blogging Rules I Created!My Profile

    Reply
  • Traffic is key to a blog and I read anything that deals with traffic. I have learned the hard way that quick fix and shiny objects do not work with google and that you better do great content and focused content to win the readers and traffic. I wish I can get more traffic, but it is clear, I do not have the key to this. Thanks for this Mitch.

    Reply

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