Alexa – A Search Analytics Tool

02 Sep

How has the growth of these social networks changed?
Why do you suppose that is?

Social Networks Compared:



Alexa is a web monitor that has been around since 1996. It collects and displays various statistical data about a particular website which is categorised into different areas; the three main areas include traffic stats, search analytics and audience (refer to figure 3.1). Each of these categories contain numerous information about the sites popularity, page views, search queries, and certain characteristics of the user such as age, gender and education to just name a few.

Alexa Result Categoriesfigure 3.1

Even though Alexa can be a useful resource for site owners and web developers, it is important to note that the data is based on tracking information accumulated from users who have the Alexa Toolbar installed. As a result, the data can be biased if specific audiences are unwilling to install the tool bar. At times the tool bar has been classified as malware and is seen as a Trojan to some security software which becomes a big deterrent for many users as well. Also, the rank is based on three months data which takes a long time to reflect changes in content. Therefore the data should be used as a guide and not as a definitive answer.

Stat Results (29th August 2011)

The first graph (figure 3.2) displays the percentage of visits to each social site that came from search engines.

Search Traffic figure 3.2

Figure 3.3 displays the traffic rank for each of the four sites. The rank is calculated using a combination of average daily users and pageviews over the past 3 months. Google is ranked 1 both in the Global and US rank with Facebook coming in second place.

Traffic Rank
figure 3.3

It’s interesting to note that most of the social sites have similar search queries styles that lead to their site in which majority of them contain the website’s name in different forms e.g. facebook, face book,, facebook login, etc. Twitter on the other hand had the greatest variety of search queries that lead to their site.

The following is the top 10 search engine query for twitter:

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Twiter
  4. Twitter (foreign language)
  5. Twitter Login
  6. Gmail
  8. Twitter en espanol
  9. Lulsec
  10. Tweeter
The following tables (figure 3.4 and 3.5) show the sites that are visited before and after visiting the social network sites and the percentage of unique visits. A common trend is that the site which was visited prior to entering is also the site that they visit afterwards. This clearly shows how important it is to have a back button and clear navigation for the user to access previous pages.
Sites Visited Before

figure 3.4

Sites visited afterwards

figure 3.5

Alexa also provides a brief summary for each site based on the data collected during the past 3 months.


  • Audience tends to be female
  • They are also disproportionately users browsing from school and home.
  • 18% of visits are bounces (one pageview only)
  • Site has been online for more than 14 years
  • Estimate that 34% of visitors are in the US
  • Visitors view an average of 3.8 unique pages per day
  • Roughly 25% of visits are referred by search engines
  • About 13% of visits are referred by search engines
  • Popular among users in San Francisco (ranked #5)  & Boston (ranked #7)
  • Been online since 2002
  • Visitors view an average of 3.3 unique pages per day.
  • About 6% of visits are referred by search engines.
  • Highly ranked in New York (#7) and Los Angeles (#7)
  • Bounce rate oof 38%

Another feature is the ‘Reputation’ data provided in Alexa. This is the number of links that is connected to a particular site. When viewing Facebook’s result it was interesting to note that 4 of the top 10 sites that had inbound links were Chinese sites. This was very surprising as the Chinese government has banned Facebook from being accessed within the country.

An interesting article‘Facebook is banned in China, but it now has 700,000 Chinese using its website’ describes how internet users are circumventing the fire wall in China to access Facebook. This shows how social sites are still attracting a high number of traffic as there is a wide market of internet users that are yet to be “connected”. Especially in China where the population is over 1 billion people.


From analysing the data we can see that Facebook generates the most traffic out of all the social sites. However, it’s also worth nothing that each of the other social sites also consistenly attract a high number of traffic. As a result, over the past three months there hasn’t been much change in regards to the traffic generated within each site. This may be due to users having an account in each of these social sites. This causes the user to visit each of these sites and not just a particular one. This can be seen in the tables above(refer to figure 3.4 and 3.5) where users are bouncing between Facebook and Twitter. It’s safe to say that the majority of these users would have an account in various social networking sites and not just exclusively to one specific site.

Further Readings
A world of connections – Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play, and mostly for the better

Search Analytics with Alexa

Social Media Sites Are Now Used by 65% of Adults Online


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: