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The Google PageRank - Alexa Rating Connection

March 20, 2006

I used to believe that if a website had a good (4 or above) Google PageRank, it was getting a lot of traffic. By definition a site that has a lot of incoming links, and quality incoming links will get a higher PageRank. The more quality incoming links the better, and thus a higher PageRank. I used to petition other sites to link back to my sites purely for the Google PageRank factor, to drive that number upwards. But now, while I still spend a decent amount of time searching for link partners, I do it because I understand it will bring untapped traffic to my sites, not just to raise my sites' PageRank.

About two years ago a client at my former job brought Alexa to my attention. I shouldn't say that actually as I had heard of and casually browsed Alexa.com from time-to-time before that. But this client was an anomoly because he used the Alexa Toolbar solely, not the Google Toolbar. And when we spoke about raising his traffic and helping him with his online marketing, he always went back to his Alexa rating. At that time I was forced to install the Alexa toolbar to learn more about how Alexa works and more importantly, to keep track of our client's progress.

I'm sure this is common knowledge among other SEO's, but Alexa uses a method to basically rank every single website on the web from 1 (currently Yahoo!) to infinity. From what I gather, this number is based on the amount of traffic a website receives. It's difficult to judge because Alexa is only able to use/come up with numbers based on the number of users who have the toolbar installed which they figure to be about 10% of all Internet users.

What I believe now is that a casual visitor to a website can determine the site's traffic and overall Internet presence based on a combination of the site's Google PageRank and their Alexa Rating. Google PageRank has gotten a bad reputation lately because it is easy for black-hat SEO's to point thousands of sites and links to different domains they choose, thus artificially raising a site's PageRank. While this may be true, I think Google is doing a good job cracking down on these link schemes and presenting true results. In addition, I think most sites are NOT using black-hat techniques and thus have a "true" PageRank.

From what I've seen over the past couple years are a few different examples emerging:

- Sites with little to no PageRank (0-1) and a very high Alexa Rating (1,000,000 and up). Remember, Alexa ranks websites from 1 up, so the lower the rating the better. These sites don't seem to be too active on the Internet. They do not have many incoming links and do not receive much traffic.

- Sites with a very high PageRank (4-7) and a very high Alexa Rating (800,000 and up). These situations seem to mean that the site is linked to from many other sites (probably with high PageRanks themselves), but do not receive much traffic. I see this a lot on .gov websites.

- Sites with a moderate PageRank (3-6) and a moderate Alexa Rating (300,000 to 600,000). These sites are moving in the right direction. They have a decent number of incoming links and receive a decent amount traffic.

- Sites with a higher PageRank (5-8) and low Alexa Rating (50,000 to 200,000). These are the cream of the crop...sites with a tremendous amount of incoming links AND tons of traffic.

I have not come across, to my knowledge, any sites with a very low Alexa Rating and low PageRank (unless the site has been blocked by Google). In addition, I have seen on one of my sites in particular, a lower Alexa Rating actually increasing the site's PageRank! One of my sites has been receiving a huge (upwards of 800%) increase in traffic over the past two months or so. This is mainly due to other marketing initiatives other than trying to get incoming links. At the same time, our number of incoming links reported to on Google has NOT increased. However, our PageRank has jumped up 1 point over that time.

I think as a potential advertiser on a website it is important to have a sense of how popular a site is and how much traffic it receives before spending money with them. Using a combination of a site's PageRank and Alexa Rating you should be able to tell whether a site is all hype, or is actually worthwhile to advertise on.

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