Oh, Alexa why do we court thee?

Alexa and I have a love / hate relationship, I suppose. I wish it were just just hate from my side but something about this foul temptress keeps drawing me back.

Alexa is know for being far from accurate but many advertisers and PayPerPost type systems uses Alexa to calculate the value of your site or blog.

It goes without saying that if a blogger wants a higher payout for a review or advertising then they should boost their Alexa rank.

One of the trends I’ve seen lately is people employing a redirect in front of every link so that, the theory goes, Alexa can record every page load and in response you’ll see a boost in your rankings.

http://redirect.alexa.com/redirect?

While placing this redirect in front of every URL may (I’m not convinced it does)have a positive effect of your Alexa rank, I can’t help but worry that it must do some sort of damage in terms of PageRank and search engine placement.

I’ve seen two different approaches to implementing the redirect (neither of which I will link to because I’m not sure if they’re damaging to your SERP).

The first is to actually rewrite all the URLs of a site so that the redirect is essentially hard coded.

The second is to handle it with script on the client side so that the search engines see the site as it was intended but every click the user makes results in the redirect being added by the script.

At the very least this can’t be user friendly at the worst it would mean that none of your links work if Alexa has a hiccup for any reason.

For example when posting a trackback to a blog recently I didn’t notice that the trackback URL was had the redirect attached. As far as I know the blog didn’t get the trackback because of that so that blogs readers missed out on a part of the conversation.

I’ve done some Googling on this and find many sites that recommend using the redirect however much of it appears to be of the "me to" mentality.

The one dissenting voice I came across was that of Steven York who not only tested redirects but also the theory that showing the Alex widget on your site will improve your rank.

Steven has some interesting graphs and statistics which indicate that neither of these methods boost your Alexa rank.

I haven’t spent the time to research this properly myself. I have installed the widget on my sidebar to see if I can see any noticeable improvement in rank that can’t be attributed to something else.

What’s your take on this? Have any of these methods worked for you? Or is the best solution simply to get everyone you know to install the toolbar and have them visit your site regularly?

Comments

  1. says

    I had the Alexa plugin and tried it and saw no difference.(Thanks for the reminder, I just disabled it. No use for plugins that don’t work!) Never tried the Alexa button in the sidebar, but I am very protective of my sidebar space.

  2. says

    Paul, thanks for referring to my little experiment. While I gained absolutely nothing from trying to fool Alexa, I lost nothing either. I was wondering whether they would actually ban me (for essentially trying to game their rankings) but either they didn’t notice or didn’t care.

    I would have that in the back of your mind though, it is a tad dishonest and they could take offense.

    I’m hoping it does nothing for you – purely so that my experiment came out with the right result! Good luck.

  3. says

    Well I’ve been using the button on the sidebar for a week now, both on this blog and on another site with no apparent affect yet.

    I’ll leave it go for another week just to be sure.

    Hopefully it doesn’t work and your conclusions will stay correct Steven. :) Sara’s experience already backs it up!