The popularity of your blog or web site will be of great interest to you and no doubt you will be monitoring your site via a statistics package of some description. If you make sales on your site, you will know if you’re doing well or need to improve by how many sales you make. To gauge yours and competitor site’s popularity, it is useful to use and understand a couple of tools that are freely available.
The two main ways of doing this are to regularly check both your Alexa Rating and Your Google Page Rank and to be aware of those of your competitors.
Use Firefox as Your Browser of Choice
It makes it a bit easier to check these measurements if you install the appropriate tools bars on your browser so that the values of each, show up for every web site you visit. And it just makes life a bit easier if you use Firefox rather than Internet Explorer, if this is at all possible.
- It is less forgiving than Internet Explorer and so any errors will show up more readily. This means you can fix them because you’ll know they are there.
- Lots of tools are available for Firefox and you can therefore customise it to suit your needs
I’ll only talk about Alexa Ratings and Google Page Rank now in relation to the Firefox browser for ease.
Set Up The Toolbar with Search Status Tools
Install the http://www.quirk.biz/searchstatus addon into Firefox so that you can automatically read off the Alexa Rating and Google Page Rank values for each site you visit whilst using the Firefox browser.
Once you have done that you’ll see the Alexa Rating and Google Page Rank of any site you visit in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. See picture below where the red arrows show the Alexa Rating of the site and the Google Page Rank of the page, you are currently on.
The display is a graphical one, but you can run your cursor over the little graphic images and the actual values will display, or you can right-click the graphic and set it to display text (numbers), rather than the little graphs.
Now browse the internet checking on the popularity of each page or site, according to what the toolbar indicates.
Alexa is not an accurate tool and much has already been written about this. For the purposes of this post we’ll assume we understand its limitations. For now let’s suspend our disbelief, and assume that Alexa does measure real site popularity (practically as I have indicated, it doesn’t, but that is the topic of another discussion). So, based on this assumption, a site with an Alexa rating of 2,600,000 is less popular than a site with a rating of 60,000. In other words, the smaller the number the more popular the site.
The Alexa rating applies to a whole site and will usually fall somewhere between 1 and several millions. A site with an Alexa Rating of 163,000 for example, means that Alexa believes this site (over the previous 3 months), to be the 163,000th most popular site on the internet. I.e there are only 162,999 sites that are more popular.
Google Page Rank
Google Page Rank measures the importance of a single page on the internet according to Google’s proprietary ranking algorithm. How they calculate this is not altogether known, but it has to do with how many other pages on the internet link back to pages on your site, the Google Page rank of the those incoming links, and other unspecified criteria. Google explains here. However, the PR or Page Rank of a page is better the higher it is, (the opposite to Alexa ranking).
The Google Page Rank will usually fall somewhere between unspecified (i.e. no Page Rank whatsover), through to zero all the way up to 10 and applies to a single page. (I.e a single site may comprise many pages and each will have its own page rank).
Usually then, a page with a PR of 0 on a site with an Alexa Rating of 1,000,000+ should mean that the site is not visited very often and is not rated by other sites. In other words it is not doing very well.
Alternatively a page with PR 6 and an Alexa rating of say 80,000, is doing pretty well in terms of visits and Google kudos.
A site with an Alexa Rating of say 6 and a Google Page Rank of 8, can be said to be resident in internet heaven. (As of today for example, myspace.com has those ratings)
when I look at some sites/blogs they seem to have excellent alexa rankings but no page ranking – why?
I asked Paula to give me examples of sites she had seen that fitted this description. Here are a representative sample of the links she gave me with rankings at the time of writing:
- PR=4 AR=9.9m+ (quite good page rank, very poor alexa rating)
- This has a decent Page Rank and a poor Alexa rating.
- A page rank of 4 suggests that the home page of the site has a fair number of links coming into it, with moderately good PRs of their own.
- The Alexa Rank means two things : hardly a soul with the Alexa Toolbar installed is visiting the site, and the owner of the site probably doesn’t have it installed either.
- There are 1,172 incoming links (from other sites) to this url. That’s a good number of incoming links, but in the case of many blogs, most incoming links are down to the effort of the authors who leave comments on other people’s blogs and thus essentially create most incoming links for themselves. (Not quite the same as thousands of other sites voluntarily linking to you). However, this would support the fairly good PR the page has.
- Because the Alexa rating is so poor, we can assume it is the Alexa rating of the actual blog, rather than that of the main domain, blogspot.com (or blogger.com).
- Either very few visitors who use this blog know and/or care about the Alexa toolbar or the blog has few visitors. I suggest it is the former as the commenting efforts put in by the author are being rewarded by a fairly good Page Rank which means the visits to the blog are probably at the very least, reciprocated by the people who own the blogs that this blog owner comments on.
- See the evidence that Alexa is rating the blog itself rather than than the main domain below. But also note that the value of 80,298 sites linking is not true as this statistic pertains to blogger.com (blogspot) not the individual blog.
- PR=1 AR=12. (poor page rank and outstanding alexa rating)
- This has a poor Page Rank and an outstanding Alexa Ranking (suggesting there are only 11 other sites more popular than this one). These two results seem at odds. The reason is that Alexa have not managed (I don’t know why exactly) to provide true rankings for all individual blogs at this point in time. So for the blog in the previous example above, the Alexa rating was the true one for the actual blog site, but in this case, the Alexa rating is that of the parent domain blogspot.com, which of course is why it is extremely good. You can verify this by looking each url up in Alexa itself and you will see that they are in this case counting the rating of blogspot.com but in the previous case, looking only at the subdomain at watertrough.blogspot.com. Hence the disparity. By the way, you right-click on the little Alexa graph an select show overview to see this for yourself (see image below).
- The poor PR is understood when you examine the number of incoming links. There are only 36 to this home page. This probably means this blog author does not realise the important of generating links for him/herself by leaving hundreds of comments all over other people’s blogs, (unlike the author of the previous blog).
Paula – I hope that answers your question. If it does not, I am about to write this up again on a different blog aimed at explaining things in a better way.