Play the Alexa game

Spyware is bad, right?

Site of the Day One thing webmasters are almost guaranteed to do is fib about the viewing figures for their site. Sometimes it's ignorance, sometime it's ego and sometimes it's pulling the wool over the eyes of advertisers.

Few sites, in the UK at any rate, do regular ABCe audits. The Register for example did its last public audit in March 2001 (15.3m page imps). Advertisers don't mind as such, so long as Web sites use third party ad server software such as DART or Engage.

But what about the readers? Is Flippy Floppy Software Review really has influential as proprietor/editor in chief says it is?

This is where Alexa.com comes in. Owned by Amazon.com, this handy utility performs an instant popularity page ranking of every web site on the world. The stats are compiled from the surfing habits of volunteers who download the Alexa toolbar, and sundry cookies.

The result throw up some oddities - it overstates the readership of, for some reason, Korean sites, and of course, Alexa (rank 12), itself. Ranking stats are only gathered from Internet Explorer, which means that Slashdot.org (rank 1419) - say - is underweight. The Register (.co.uk rank 1,996) possibly is too - approximately 25 per cent of readers access our site using non-Microsoft browsers. Also, webmasters can punch above their weight for their site by encouraging readers to download the toolbar.

What's missing? Well, if memory serves us right, Alexa used to estimate the monthly page imps for individual site. If may still do this, but we can't find it. To give you some context for the performance of the middle-rankers internal records show The Register.co.uk served 29.5m page imps in the last 30 days, while theregus.com (rank 13,336) did around 3 million.

All good clean fun? Perhaps - Amazon (rank 24) gets a bloody good demographic snapshot and an opportunity to flog kit to Alexa users. But it has come under fire in the past for a non-existent, then a dodgy privacy policy, and it typically shows up as spyware. Alexa's most recent privacy statement looks fine to us. And unlike most Spyware, Alexa is easy to switch off. You have a choice.

You want to know more about Spyware? This free utility, Ad-aware (rank 10,890) will help you find out what's on your computer.

And ExtremeTech (rank 7,425) has published a very useful guide: Privacy and security on your PC. ®

Related link

The Alexa Top 500

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