2014 screenshot of Alexa.com home page
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S|
|Industry||Internet information providers|
|Products||Alexa Web Search (discontinued 2008)
|Parent||Amazon.com (acquired 1999)|
|Alexa rank||1,900 (June 2014[update])|
|Type of site||Web traffic and ranking|
Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data. Founded as an independent company in 1996, Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999. Its toolbar collects data on browsing behavior and transmits it to the Alexa website, where it is stored and analyzed, forming the basis for the company's web traffic reporting. According to its website, as of 2014, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites, and its website is visited by over 8.8 million people monthly.
Operations and history
Alexa Internet was founded in 1996 by American web entrepreneurs Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat. The company's name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the potential of the Internet to become a similar store of knowledge.
The company offered a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, based on the traffic patterns of its user community. Alexa also offered context for each site visited: to whom it was registered, how many pages it had, how many other sites pointed to it, and how frequently it was updated.
Alexa's operation includes archiving of webpages as they are crawled. This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive accessible through the Wayback Machine. In 1998, the company donated a copy of the archive, two terabytes in size, to the Library of Congress. Alexa continues to supply the Internet Archive with Web crawls.
In 1999, as the company moved away from its original vision of providing an "intelligent" search engine, Alexa was acquired by Amazon.com for approximately US$250 million in Amazon stock. Alexa began a partnership with Google in early 2002, and with the web directory DMOZ in January 2003. In May 2006, Amazon replaced Google with Live Search as a provider of search results. In December 2006, Amazon released Alexa Image Search. Built in-house, it was the first major application to be built on the company's Web platform.
In December 2005, Alexa opened its extensive search index and Web-crawling facilities to third party programs through a comprehensive set of Web services and APIs. These could be used, for instance, to construct vertical search engines that could run on Alexa's own servers or elsewhere. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to require comparisons to be limited to three sites, reduced the size of embedded graphs shown using Flash, and added mandatory embedded BritePic advertisements.
In April 2007, the lawsuit Alexa v. Hornbaker was filed to stop trademark infringement by the Statsaholic service. In the lawsuit, Alexa alleged that Hornbaker was stealing traffic graphs for profit, and that the primary purpose of his site was to display graphs that were generated by Alexa's servers. Hornbaker removed the term Alexa from his service name on March 19, 2007.
On November 27, 2008, Amazon announced that Alexa Web Search was no longer accepting new customers, and that the service would be deprecated or discontinued for existing customers on January 26, 2009. Thereafter, Alexa became a purely analytics-focused company.
On March 31, 2009, the Alexa website underwent a major redesign, offering new web traffic metrics, including average page views per each individual user, bounce rate, and user time on site. In the following weeks, Alexa added further features, including visitor demographics, clickstream and search traffic statistics. These new features were introduced in order to compete with other web analytics services, such as Compete.com and Quantcast.
Alexa ranks sites based primarily on tracking a sample set of internet traffic — users of its toolbar for the Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers. The Alexa Toolbar includes a popup blocker, a search box, links to Amazon.com and the Alexa homepage, and the Alexa ranking of the site that the user is visiting. It also allows the user to rate the site and view links to external, relevant sites.
In early 2005, Alexa stated that there had been 10 million downloads of the toolbar, though the company did not provide statistics about active usage. The Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer 7 has previously been flagged as malware by Microsoft Defender. A third-party-supplied plugin for the Firefox browser served as the only solution after Amazon abandoned its A9 toolbar. On July 16, 2007, Alexa released an official toolbar for Firefox called Sparky. Originally, webpages were only ranked amongst users who had the Alexa Toolbar installed, and could be biased if a specific audience subgroup was reluctant to take part in the rankings. This caused some controversy over how representative Alexa's user base was of typical Internet behavior, especially for less-visited sites. In 2007, Michael Arrington provided examples of Alexa rankings known to contradict data from the comScore web analytics service, including ranking YouTube ahead of Google.
On April 16, 2008, many users reported dramatic shifts in their Alexa rankings. Alexa confirmed this later in the day with an announcement that they had released an updated ranking system, claiming that they would now take into account more data sources "beyond Alexa Toolbar users".
A number of antivirus companies have assessed Alexa's toolbar. Symantec classifies the toolbar as "trackware", while McAfee classifies it as adware, a "Potentially Unwanted Program." McAfee Site Advisor rates the Alexa site as "green", finding "no significant problems" but warning of a "small fraction of downloads ... that some people consider adware or other potentially unwanted programs."
Though it is possible to delete a paid subscription within an Alexa account, it is not possible to delete an account that is created at Alexa through any web interface, and no means of contacting the company is provided to account holders.
- List of most popular websites
- List of search engines
- List of Web directories
- SimilarGroup, which operates a comparable web-tracking service
- "About Alexa Internet". Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- "Alexa.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- "About". Alexa. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "ALEXA Internet Donates Archive of the World Wide Web To Library of Congress". Alexa press release. October 13, 1998. Archived from the original on October 13, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- "A "Gift of the Web" for the Library of Congress from Alexa Internet". October 19, 1998. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
- Keith Dawson (July 28, 1997). "Alexa Internet opens the doors". Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- "Internet Archive FAQs". Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- Adam Feuerstein (May 21, 1999). "E-commerce loves Street: Critical Path plans encore". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Elizabeth Montalbano (May 1, 2006). "Amazon dumps Google for Windows Live". Infoworld. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- "Northern California District Federal court Case number — C 07-01715 RS" (PDF). Archived from the original on April 22, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
- Alan Graham (April 18, 2007). "Amazon sues Alexaholic...everyone loses!". ZDnet. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
- Pete Cashmore (April 19, 2007). "Amazon sues Statsaholic...Web as Platform is Bullsh*t". Mashable. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
- John Cook (November 27, 2008). "Amazon pulling plug on Alexa Web Search". Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
- Geoffrey Mack (March 31, 2009). "Pardon our dust". Alexa Internet. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Geoffrey Mack (April 14, 2009). "More New Alexa Features: Demographics, Clickstream, Search Traffic". Retrieved October 9, 2009.
- Herman Tumurcuoglu (March 14, 2010). "Web Page Rank from Google, Alexa, Quantcast and Compete.com". Analytics Blog. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- "Technology: How and Why We Crawl the Web". Alexa. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Harold Davis (2006). Google Advertising Tools: Cashing in with AdSense, Adwords, and the Google APIs. O'Reilly Media. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-596-10108-4.
- "Windows Defender calls Alexa Toolbar Trojan". TMCNet. March 2, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- "SearchStatus: A Search Extension for Firefox and SeaMonkey". Quirk.biz. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- Home. A9.com. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- "Sparky Add-on for Firefox Released Today". Alexa Blog. July 16, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
- Alistair Croll; Seán Power (2009). Complete Web Monitoring: Watching Your Visitors, Performance, Communities, and Competitors. O'Reilly Media. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-596-15513-1.
- Michael Arrington. "Alexa’s Make Believe Internet"; "Alexa Says YouTube Is Now Bigger Than Google. Alexa Is Useless". TechCrunch. 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- "Alexa Announcement". Alexa. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
- "Alexa Overhauls Ranking System". TechCrunch. April 16, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- "Trackware. Alexa — Symantec.com". February 13, 2007. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Adware-Alexa". February 23, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Alexa.com: Web Safety Ratings". McAfee SiteAdvisor. September 2007. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Delete Alexa Account". Account Killer. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- Official website
- Alexa list of top websites
- History of Alexa Company
- "This Is Why You Shouldn’t Use Alexa". RealSceptic.com. February 1, 2014.
- Alexa Rank Service