Emma’s Tech Tip: Alexa

The popularity of television shows are historically tracked through the Nielson Ratings. This is accomplished by sampling the viewing habits of a segment of the population. People meters are used to collect this information and the select viewing audience agrees to have a log of the shows they watch logged and aggregated with data from other households. This data is then extrapolated and compared against other shows in similar time spots to determine what show is viewed more at any given time.

Ever wonder how web pages are ranked? There are several methods and to my knowledge no standard exists, however, Elexa is a company that is positioning itself as the Nielsen ratings for the internet. To make this technology work, users must download and install “Sparky” the “people meter” equivalent that allows them to track the web pages you visit and aggregate this data with that collected from millions of other users. By collecting this information they can extrapolate what pages are number 1 and which are number 20 million. Although this approach makes a reasonable attempt at accuracy the data is skewed as typically tech-savvy internet users are the main audience that have the tool installed and they traditionally view tech sites.  As a result, tech sites are typically higher ranked than those of the non-tech variety.

So why download the tool? As a contributor you help Alexa improve its accuracy. In return, Alexa will let you know the rank of each site you visit by displaying it in the bottom corner of your browser. For example, Emma’s web page is currently ranked 901,556. To help me improve that ranking my viewers (that means you) need to be running the Alexa tool. This way each time you visit, it is counted and thus improves our Rank. So what are you waiting for? Install Sparky now!

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