Since the 16th of November, I’ve been running an experiment with the Alexa ranking system to look at the site sensitivity in rankings from what is hopefully a single new person using it. This is one of the factors used by Tumeke and Halfdone‘s rankings. So I was interested in how much it would affect the Alexa ranking. It has been enlightening
None of the other admins at this site use Alexa’s Sparky because of its tracking behaviors. A number use a browser that it doesn’t support it like Safari.
The Standard’s score on this ranking had remained moderately static – from Tumuke nz blog rankings the traffic was moving around the 220k to 236k mark for a 3 month average.
I added Alexa Sparky to all of my Firefox’s on multiple machines on the evening of the 15th at home including my work laptop. At the time the alexa traffic was something like 220k despite a massive spike in the page views in election week.
I spend a considerable amount of time pulling pages from The Standard because of the nature of the moderation task in the evenings and weekends, and during breaks at work. The vast majority of which are admin comment pages. I also have two other page view measures in wordpress.stats and google analytics. Both exclude the admin pages in wordpress.
The google analytics and wordpress.stats showed a steadily decreasing number of page views, as would be expected post-election and as we move into summer.
After 3 weeks, Alexa now shows a traffic rank of 192k and nz266 rank. As far as I’m aware there have been no other readers starting to use this who read The Standard. It is possible, but the rapid decrease started when I started to do my usual operations with Alexa running after months of comparative stability. The average page views per person moved from a 3 month average of 2.9 to a week average of 10. This has to almost entirely be due to my activities.
It appears to me, as if a single person using this can significantly change the NZ traffic ranks at Alexa. They would also change rankings that use this as a factor. Looks like a good technique to rort the ranking systems, especially for a admin of a site who spends a lot of time on their own site.
It does explain a lot of the stepwise changes in the ranking that I’ve seen that do not appear to relate to measured page views. It looks like there are so few Alexa users in NZ, that even one reading the site can change the Alexa ranks of a site that they read quite considerably.
I suspect that there will be a lot more Alexa users shortly as part of the struggle from blog ratings. It is something that I have a rather detached viewpoint on because I’m far more concerned about loadings on The Standard’s server. However I’m sure this observation will be useful for some discussion 😈