Following our series about how to make money blogging, we have reviewed how to start a website, choosing a name, domain and hosting, how to make money depending on the hours you are willing to put in (you can also check my July income for both sites). I share my big blogging mistake and my failed attempts at making money online I failed at making money online, then succeeded, with freelancing and starting my own website.
Make Money Your Way launched on July 1st officially, although there was a welcome post on June 28th. Five weeks later, on August 2nd, its Alexa rank was at 190,029, and less than 8 weeks later on August 19th, it was at 98,056.
I know that for many bloggers, Alexa is a metric to keep eyes on, or at least at the beginning. It gives you a way to follow your progress from the start, as it updates every day, while you have to wait for some time to get a PageRank or a MozRank. But it also has some flaws that we will explore in this post.
How does Alexa work
Alexa ranks the millions of websites out there by popularity. If you rank #1, it means your site is the most popular site on the world wide web. That would be Google, Facebook, etc. As a rule of thumb, there are about 20 million sites on the web, so if you made it to the top 200,000, you are 1% :). “Only” 200,000 website would be more popular than yours, which considering the number of sites available, is pretty good.
Alexa tracks user behavior thanks to a toolbar people install on their browser. It then knows how many people visited your site, how much time they spent on it, and can rank you accordingly, compared to the other sites.
The flaw of Alexa
Since Alexa can only know you visited a site if you have the toolbar installed, it is not tracking 100% of the web surfers. And chances are people who do have the toolbar installed are mainly webmasters, website owners, looking to improve their metrics. A knitting site can receive 100,000 visitors a day, if 99,000 are like my grandma, basic internet users who do not have the toolbar, Alexa will only consider the 1,000 visitors who do. As a result, the rank is not very accurate. But the good news is, it is easy to lower.
How you can lower your rank
As I told you previously, the lower your rank, the better, as it means your site was visited by more people. You will start with a rank of several millions, but if you manage to attract a few readers, should easily drop below 1 million.
How do you drop even further and below 200K? By attracting more readers with the toolbar installed, namely your fellow bloggers. A few may not have the toolbar but most of them should, as they share your interest in lowering their own rank. This is the time to network like crazy and make people want to visit your site in return.
Start commenting around, leaving thoughtful reactions to people’s writing. Not only will the site owner notice you (for more popular blogs, it may take time, or never happen, but for your average blog, they will), the other readers will also see your name and website out there. I read that websites that rank below 100K have around 4,000 daily visitors, that is what Make Money Your Way got in a month, and it still ranks under 100K.
The data is biased because of the high proportion of bloggers visiting the site. While it is really easy to drop your rank, the day you stop your networking efforts, you will yo-yo back to the millions, unless you manage to have people stick around.
Your own visits will count as well if you get the toolbar installed on your browser, and no one will visit your site more than you!
How important is Alexa to monetize your site?
When I talk to advertisers, I give them a few metrics to judge my site by, including Alexa, because it is kind of neat to rank below 100K. But they know as well as I do that this is not a stat to base their assessment on. It tells them that you are either really popular, or that you are pretty active and in return get a good share of blogger traffic.
But they are more interested in your PageRank and MozRank to judge a website. That is because they are looking for strong link juice, and in the case of MMYW, with a PR0 and a non existing MozRank, the link juice is really weak.
In the ad network that I run (want in? let me know!), I have closed deals for sites with an Alexa rank of 1 million, a PR3 and MozRank over 5, while it is unlikely I will close anything for MMYW in spite of its Alexa Rank. However, Alexa provides a list of websites under 100K that you can download and it may get you noticed, but you need to have other good stats.
As a conclusion, I would recommend that you focus on the other metrics of your site, even though they are harder to improve, and keep an eye on Alexa just to make sure you are doing your networking efforts properly, but after a while, your traffic will increase and if you stop networking, your Alexa may drop from 100K to 1M because the number of visitors with the toolbar will be less, in spite of a decupled traffic.