Today I kick off a mink-segment on competitive analysis & cold marketing.
Today’s tool is Alexa, a product owned by Amazon.
This fantastic tool ranks the internet’s websites. It ranks all websites on the internet by traffic, with the highest traffic being #1. How does it do this? Well, the truth is that people voluntarily install the tracking plug-in which skews the results. For many years Alexa has been criticized for having inaccurate rankings. And it’s true! The ranking numbers are NOT PERFECT. In some cases, they aren’t even close.
Competitive research is an invaluable tool. The free Alexa tool is quite limited, and tells you a website’s global and US rank and gives you a peek into what the paid version offers.
Although the free tool remains available, Alexa makes it slightly hard to find from their home page.
Nonetheless, let’s start with the free tool first before examining the paid version.
For demonstration we’re going to enter google.com to start.
Here’s your results. Notice you see many things: keyword analysis, time on site. It’s like having Google Analytics for anybody else’s website.
Click on the link “Traffic Metrics” and you will be taken to where you see google.com’s rank:
This tells us that Google.com has a global rank of #1 and a US rank of #1. That means it’s the popular website on the planet and also the most popular website in the United States.
#2 website (Youtube.com) is the second most popular website on the internet.
So in Alexa rankings, a lower number means a more popular website, as measured by traffic.
You can see all the top sites globally, by country, or even by category here:
Now let’s take a look at the premium Alexa features. You must pay for access to these features. If you are doing competitive research, Alexa is worth it to be able to know about your competitors or the industry. Because the fee is monthly, you can avoid an ongoing monthly cost by doing all of your competitive research at once and then canceling the premium subscription.
Today I will profile the popular website findlaw.com, a site for scholars and lawyers to find legal briefs and information.
It’s a lot so let’s go right in.
(1) Alexa gives us Keyword Suggestions. Look for the “Keywords Opportunities Breakdown”
If you click “Optimization Opportunities”, you will be taken down the page to the “Buyer Keywords” section.
Click “View All Keywords” to see the complete competitive breakdown.
Competitor Keyword Matrix
This takes us to the Competitor Keyword Matrix, where we can see two types of global keyword data for this industry: Organic (that means unpaid traffic from search engines) and Paid (that means paid advertising).
Organic and Paid Keywords
Notice here that FindLaw does not show up in the first four Organic competitors, so you don’t see it in the purple bar.
In the orange bar, we can see that FindLaw comes in second biggest competitor ( at 23.9%) for Paid keyword traffic— that means paid advertisements that show up when someone uses these keywords.
Keyword Gaps, Easy-To-Rank Keywords, and Optimization Oppotunities
Alex takes us further with keyword analysis in the Keyword Gaps and Keyword Analysis sections.
Keyword Gaps, Easy-To-Rank Keywords, and Optimization Oppotunities are all essential if you are doing competitive research to boost your site’s association with specific traffic.
The Alexa Rank
Let’s skip down the page a little to the all-important Alexa Rank. This is the global (or within-county) rank for this website— that is, #1 being most popular. In theory, there are a finite number of websites in existence so hypothetically there is an upper limit (that would be the least popular website in the world, as measured by traffic.)
Remember Alexa measures using tracking that is self-installed by a set of users. Thus, it represents a sample set of users of the internet. As with all sample sets, it is probably flawed.
Years ago Alexa released traffic numbers (pageviews per day, users per day). But because of controversy surrounding its inaccuracy, they took this away so you can no longer get actual traffic number estimates using the tool.
Your site has a global rank— that’s how popular it is on the whole planet.
It also then has a US rank— that is how popular it is within the United States. It has another Alexa rank for each other country where they have non-insignificant traffic. You can easily see the rank for this website in any other country
On the right hand side, it shows me that approximately 76.1% of the website’s come from the US, 6.1% from India, 1.8% from Canada, and so on.
On the left-hand side, I can see that findlaw.com ranks #1352 in the United States today and it ranks #11261 in India (which is shown to you in the order of the percentage of this website’s traffic, not the rank within that county).
Here you have a fantastic view of who’s coming to this website by country, and how relevant this website is for a particular country. You also can see 90 days (3 months) into the past, to see if the website is gaining to losing popularity (the graph below the global Alex rank shows you this).
Coming into the home stretch we get Site Metrics, which we should note has an orange “Estimate” indicator in the upper-right corner. That means you should rely even less on this data than the rest of the data. In other words— these are just best guesses given Alexa’s capabilities but are not actual measurements that can only be done by the site operator. (If you are the site operator you should use your own analytics — this tool is for competitive analysis)
What we see above is that on average, visitors look at 1.53 pages, spend 1:60 on the website (I don’t actually understand myself how that isn’t 2 minutes— that appears to be a glitch.), and 77.4% of people “bounce,” which means they look at one page only and do not further interact, click, or visit a second page after the first time they see your website. (That is considered not something you want, of course.)
We also see that an estimated 79% of their traffic comes from Search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc), 1% (barely anything) comes from Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), 6% of the websites come from Referral: which means direct links on a webpage to another webpage. And finally, 14% come “Direct.” Direct means they typed the domain name directly into their web browser. (The one caveat here is that sometimes people can be counted as direct if they disable referral trackers, however, this is typically minimal.)
Google, Yahoo, Bing
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc
came from a link on another website
typed the website’s name directly into their web browser
Flow & Inbound
If you are analyzing your own website, don’t miss the flow section, where you can see the most popular sites people visits before visiting your website and the most popular websites people visited after.
Finally, you can also see how many other websites on the internet have links to this website. In this case, findlaw.com has 16007 other websites on the internet linked in.
Both the flow and inbound link data are shown to you based on data that Alexa captures within the last 30 days.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief walk-through of the powerful tool Alexa.
Be sure to LIKE and FOLLOW (scroll down) for more like this!