Many of us own our own websites, whether to sell products, promote services, or build a following for a blog or upcoming book. But do we know if it’s doing us any good? Luckily, it’s pretty easy to answer that question with Alexa.

Alexa Will Tell You How Your Website Is Performing

“Alexa, turn up my music. Alexa, dim the…” Nope. Not that Alexa. I’m talking about the “other” Alexa – a website and online tool that will tell you how your website is doing compared to all the other websites in the world. That’s right, the world. It will also tell you how it’s doing compared to the other websites in your country.

Why is this important? Because it’s no good to you to look at your website and say, “Oh, it looks really beautiful,” and let it go at that. You need to know how it’s performing. Is it bringing traffic your way?

Listen, a beautiful shop is no good to its owner unless customers come in the door, and that won’t happen unless a road leads to it – preferably a well-lit road with good signs; a road that shows up prominently on maps. It’s even better if the location of the shop gets recommended any time someone asks, “Say, do you know of a good shop that sells [your whatchamacallits]?”

Alexa will give you an idea if there’s a good enough road, lighting, street signs, presence on a map, and traffic directors pointing toward your website to be bringing some traffic your way.

It’s simple really. Click on this link, or go to the website Find “FEATURES” in the main menu, and then click on “WEBSITE TRAFFIC STATISTICS.” Type in the URL of your website, and click “FIND.” You’ll be shown a screen featuring your website’s Alexa rank both globally and within your country – most likely the country in which you’re located, or the country where your site has the most traffic.

So great, you have these two numbers; your global and national “Alexa scores.” What do they mean?

Alexa compiles data on numbers of visitors to a website and number of pageviews within that website. The more people visit a site and look through its pages, the better the Alexa score becomes.

A High Alexa Score is Not A Good Thing

But here’s the nonintuitive part of the Alexa scoring system. The lower your Alexa rank is, the better your traffic and pageviews. Why? Because Alexa is set up logically like seeding in sports, or a popularity contest. Number 1 is best. Number 1 million, not so much.

Think of an Alexa score as a count-off system for a long line of websites. The biggest and best website is first in line: It has a score of 1. Guess who that is? Yes, Google. Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon.

So, the smaller your Alexa score number, the better your website traffic.

So What Does Your Alexa Score Mean?

Here’s where I sit my client down and give her a paper bag to breathe into. I’ve explained that it’s important to monitor how much web traffic is coming into her site. I’ve shown her how to check her Alexa score. I’ve explained what an Alexa score is. And then she checks her own site’s score and… gasp! It’s 6.5 million! Or 16 million! Or so high that it’s off the scale and the Alexa site says “no data!”

“So,” I say, as my client’s paper bag inflates and crumples, “an Alexa score in the millions is not, I repeat, not a horrible thing.” Why? Because think of how many websites exist in the world; there are, oh, about 1.8 billion. That’s right. And growing. So, you have to be truly gia-mon-gous to score even in the tens of thousands. A lot of good websites don’t. In fact, millions of good websites don’t.

So let’s do the math. Let’s say your website’s Alexa score is 11 million. Divide 11 million by 1.8 billion and you get 0.006. That means that your website is in the top six-tenths-of-one-percent of websites in the world. Not too shabby, actually.

How to Use Your Alexa Score? To Monitor Your Progress

For regular website owners, not the Amazons of the world, the real value of an Alexa score is not to measure raw traffic numbers but rather to measure progress. So my advice is to determine your Alexa score today, and then take it as a baseline that you’ll use to measure your traffic’s improvement. Try implementing some changes designed to attract more visitors, such as blogging more frequently or posting more often to social media. Then after a month or two of this new activity, check your Alexa score again. Is it lower than it was before? Then you’re doing the right thing! If not, you’ll know to try something different, then come back in a month and check again.

This article was originally published on Sixty and Me.

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