Curious how your website traffic compares to your competition? Alexa.com offers a fascinating ranking measurement that lets you pull up the traffic history for any website you wish.
Think of Alexa.com as a form of Nielsen Ratings for websites. Alexa collects traffic data from users who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their web browser. The resulting traffic data is flawed — yet while not completely accurate, this information does provide a useful tool for designers tasked with improving their client’s competitive web positioning.
The Alexa toolbar was previously only available on Internet Explorer for Windows — so Mac users didn’t get “counted” in the Alexa rankings. This month however, a new plug-in for the Firefox Web browser brings Macintosh users into that traffic ranking.
Once you install Alexa’s new Sparky Toolbar, a small traffic graph shows the traffic rank for each page you visit:
Tip: To install the plug in, visit Alexa.com’s download page with Firefox, and an “install now” option should be visible.
How could Alexa.com prove valuable to our audience of ad agencies, design studios and in-house creative departments?
Evaluate web traffic on your clients’ websites. Run an Alexa.com report on your clients’ websites. Especially clients who might be evaluating whether to redesign their site. Traffic reports give an objective measure of their website’s exposure, and can help justify the cost of improvements to that website.
Evaluate web traffic on your own website. I suspect this is where everyone starts. Don’t be discouraged if your studio’s site is not highly ranked. As a tool, Alexa appears to be geared to somewhat active sites. CreativeTechs.com didn’t show up at the bottom of the chart until we started getting daily traffic of 500+ visits on our tips site.
Evaluate the competition’s web traffic. Alexa is a great tool for marketing types. Run the numbers for your clients. Differences in web traffic between your client’s website and their competition is apt to spur any entrepreneur’s competitive nature. If website design appears to be a major factor, comparing the web traffic results can help justify your creative fees.
Demonstrate legitimacy. Some venture capital firms use results from Alexa.com as an index to gage the legitimacy of a product or service concept. Site rank on Alexa and Google can be one of the many indicators of a concept’s marketability. (Another great justification for your creative fees!)
Help us raise CreativeTechs’ ranking! If you enjoy the work we put into this weekly newsletter the best way to say thanks is to help spread the word. Tell friends and colleagues about our weekly tips. Link to our tips website from your blog. And give us a good review on Alexa.com. Thanks!
Source: This is an update of a tip we ran back in 2006 in CreativeTechs Tips #85. That tip was written back when CreativeTechs had a traffic rank of 655,689 — we now rank as 119,633 (thanks for all the great referrals over the years!). Finally, for designers looking to better understand their own site’s traffic patterns, we recommend using Google Analytics for more focused traffic information about your particular site.