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Alexa Rankings Explained Via Long Tail Theory

Well the title for this blog felt right, but certainly I am not an expert on Alexa. Even though I have owned and run a number of web sites since the mid 1990s I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to understanding the true mechanics of this amazing ranking system.

I guess my website ownership history makes me one of the old ladies of the web having been working on HairBoutique.com, my primary website, since 1997, on a daily basis.  I will confess I have been eating, sleeping and obsessing about HairBoutique.com since the very first day.

What I find about Alexa Rankings, which I personally value for a traffic analysis viewpoint, is that the more I think I know, the less I actually know.   Which tracks with my knowledge of SEO, Google words, Twitter traffic patterns and other mystical, magical things that as a web businessperson I need to know.

Yes, it's true there are many Alexa, SEO, Twitter, Social Media gurus out there and I follow as many as I have time and eyeball energy to do.  I have two in-house web experts who have worked with HairBoutique.com since the very beginning of the site.  However, I have learned that the buck stops with me and if I don't at least try to figure some of these things out, I am the one who loses. 

It's not that I don't trust all the experts but the buck really does always stop with me.

With all of that said, I made a commitment to myself in the Summer of 2009 to really try and understand Alexa better than I had before.  I understood the basics, but not the inner workings.  Many might say that as a consumer hair and beauty expert I had no need to understand.  They might be right.  However, I always feel the need to know more.

What people may forget is that I have a secret life as a long time telephony engineer and CEO of a telecom company (T&S Software) which has been in business since 1995 to present times.  I need to understand how things work or I got a little crazy.   Even before T&S I have a long history in the software and telephony worlds.

Which brings me back to Alexa rankings and the topic of this blog.

Initially I was a little befuddled how much our rankings, for our primary sites, would flip around a lot.  I understood traffic spikes, but didn't really understand how the Alexa rankings would respond.  I remember being completely confused after publishing a lot of new articles and posting tons of new images in our gallery to see our Alexa rankings drop.  Huh?

Until recently.  I found an amazing article that explains the long tail and how Alexa reacts to the phenomena.  The Alexa Blog offered some very interesting insights into my own page rank wide jumps.

Check out Geoffrey Mack's Why Does My Alexa Rank Jump Around?  A: The Long Tails

Actually I have become fond of lurking on various Alexa forums to get a better view of the mechanics of Alexa.   I have to say the more I read and figure out the more intrigued I am.

In the early days of the Web it was easy to just have a website because there were so few of us in certain genres.  In the hair and beauty world there were just a handful of websites.  Not there are literally hundreds of thousands all over the world.  Understanding the inner workings of Alexa, SEO, Google and other key traffic cops should be examined by anyone serious about growing their presence.

Meanwhile, I have playing with my own little experiments to see what type of impact it makes on various statistics, from all the ranking cops, for my websites.  I do agree with Geoffrey Mack that it's important to focus on improving the quality of my sites which ultimately improves traffic and thus changes various rankings.

Of course to understand how my changes to improve the quality are impacting my rankings I need to understand them in the first place.  So yes I agree with Geoffrey you shouldn't spend too much time playing around and more time doing a better job with your site but I do think it's wise to form your own base of understanding.  At least that's what I always need to do when I'm pushing myself forward.

Since I am becoming so fascinated by Alexa, if you are reading this blog and have your own favorite links or suggestions, I would love to hear them.  Please post a comment or email me directly at shelton@hairboutique.com or shelton@ts-software.com.  Thank you in advance for any suggestions, thoughts, opinions you might offer.

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