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A practical guide to your website Alexa ranking. What it is, what are its pitfalls, why it's important and what you can do to increase your Alexa ranking. Written as a result of questions fielded by a web client, concerned that their ranking was substantially lower than those of his competitors.
What are Alexa Rakings & Should I Care?
Alexa is to website owners as Klout is to Twitter or Nielsen ratings are to television. It's a way to see how your website traffic compares to your competitors (or any other website in the world for that matter).
Founded in 1996 by two entrepreneurs, the name Alexa gives props to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the Internet - today's largest body of knowledge (pornography notwithstanding).
In addition to offering a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, Alexa also offers statistical information for each website one visits. Originally, Alexa archived the websites it crawled and this database served as the basis for the creation of the "Internet Archive", which can now be accessed through the Wayback Machine.
For anyone owning or managing a website, Alexa rankings can offer valuable insight. If you advertise on your website, know that advertisers use Alexa rankings to determine rate-of-pay and other factors - your Alexa ranking becomes very important. For most website owners, Alexa rankings are another one of those "devil-in-the-details" things. You should know about it, how it works (and about its inherent flaws) and the small changes and improvements you can make to your website to increase its Alexa ranking. This article will cover all of this, in a practical way.
A ClustrMap|NASA Mashup
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except Scott, who was playing with PhotoShop! Sorry, but "Visits in the Night" isn't about Santa Claus coming down our chimney. It's about creating a "night-time" display using a satellite image from NASA, merged with our worldwide website visitors tracked on ClustrMaps.
Ever since November 2005, we've been tracking the locations of many of our randsco.com visitors by using an application developed by Marc Eisenstadt, called "ClustrMaps". (Hover the globe in "Site Tools" section of the sidebar, for the regular map thumbnail - like the one that also shows here). Since that time, we've logged over 2 million visitors!
When you click the globe in the sidebar (or the thumbnail above) you'll be directed to the ClustrMap website, which shows a much larger visitor map for our website (clicking on country regions shows even greater detail). Since inception, Marc and the ClustrMap team have been continually adding features to their service and they recently won "Best Free Web Tool" in the 2011 Edublog Awards.
Not long ago, when I clicked on the globe and went to the larger, world-wide map, I noticed that the dots showed first and that it took a few seconds for the underlying "map" to reveal itself. I thought, "The dots by themselves, make an interesting display." They reminded me of a NASA image I once saw, showing urban lights across the world at night. (The image below. Click it for an even larger version).
Earth at Night: Lights from urbanized areas show up clearly on this NASA image (a composite of hundreds of images taken by orbiting DMSP satellites).
What's more fun for a developer than to show up a huge online company like eBay? How about getting PAID to do it! Here's the write-up from my one, fun summertime web project - a pure CSS eBay photo gallery. (Oh and just for grins, it's displayed in another "Arti-zine" web design). I miss having time to write more blog articles!!
This summer, I have concentrated on work around the house and property (living the real life, as opposed to a virtual life). It keeps my wife happy(er), but it means a lot fewer web projects and contributions to this website.
One of the web projects that I did take on, however, was a fun one. A British web developer and programmer, had a client that wanted a photo gallery "like the eBay photo gallery" for his online auction site. The rub? They wanted a pure-CSS version.
Because it's fun to show a well-known online powerhouse how the web should work - and because there was development funding - I dived into the project enthusiastically. (Ahem - only after my daily, real life chores were complete).
The result - A pure CSS photo gallery that looks identical to the eBay gallery and which has significant improvements:
- It's completely accessible,
- is cross-browser compatible and
- contains error-free, web-standard XHTML and CSS code.
In short - it rocks!
In 2008, I entered a photo contest at Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island outdoor store. We didn't win, but I recently noticed the photo was used as the background for the new Alberni Outpost web site design. Have a look at the new Alberni Outpost design. Amazing!
Rachel's Photo Backdrop for Local (Alberni Outpost) Website
We are were considering purchasing a used tandem kayak from Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Store, with stores in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Courtney & Nanoose. The fibreglass kayak has been in the Alberni Outpost rental fleet for some number of years and yesterday, we took it on a "test paddle" around Newcastle Island and to Protection Island (where we had dinner at the Dinghy Dock Pub). It was an excellent afternoon and will be the focus of an upcoming article.
In doing research for the article, I made a surprising discovery. A photo we submitted the Alberni Outpost in 2008, for a photo contest, is currently the background image for every page of the Alberni Outpost website!!
Despite the fact that the photo didn't win, Alberni Outpost chose it - over all the other photos submitted over the years and over all past winning submissions - as the backdrop for the new Alberni Outpost web site design.
We suspect the photo didn't win because it was a canoeing picture and not a kayaking picture. No worries! Just a Photoshop nip here and Photoshop tuck there and suddenly, Rachel is paddling a kayak instead of a canoe! Amazing what can be accomplished with digital photos, eh?
So, do you think the owner of Alberni Outpost, Richard Antonchuk, will give us a discount on the used kayak as consideration for using our photo in the new Alberni Outpost web design? (NOPE and neither a "thanks", nor a mention on the Alberni Outpost web site ... nor any consideration. VERY disappointing).
A slide show of Alex's 2009. Over 100 photos presented in an "ArtiZine" format (unique design and layout, driven by the article content). Not your normal blog post. Come check out the design and Alex's year.
Slide Show: 100+ Pics of "the Oop!"
Christmas came upon us very fast this year. Because both sets of Alex's grandparents own a digital photo frame, we gave them each a 2GB SD card, containing over 300 family photos (mostly of their granddaughter). One month later, I've uploaded some of the best shots to Randsco, to share with everyone else!
Alex is a very outgoing and engaging girl of six, though in most of these photos, she's five. Alexandra is her full name, but we just call her "Alex" or "the Oop" (a nickname that she's had for a while and one that stuck). She had a very busy year at kindergarten, visiting grandparents, exploring, making friends and just being a kid. We invite you to share her year in pictures.
We hope you enjoy the show, which is presented in an ArtiZine What the Heck is an ArtiZine? An artizine is a blog article that has a completely unique design & page layout, driven by the contents of the article. It is reminiscent of print magazine articles, where each article has a somewhat different design, typography and/or artwork. In fact, the word "artizine" is a combination of the word "article" and "magazine". An artizine is different from a blogazine. In a blogazine, every article contains magazine-like styling. Because such styling takes work, blogazines are infrequently updated and require the blog author(s) to maintain a separate site for their "normal" musings. In contrast, an artizine is simply a special, magazine-like article, contained within a regular blog. format and it's the second such article we've published. As such, it may be a bit disorienting to some folks. Just wait for the page to load and then hover over the moving theater screen static. Click to start the slide show. Then click the thumbnail images to move forward, or backward, through the slide show! (Simple really)
Now, let's get on to Alex's specially designed slide show!