Alexa Internet

Alexa Internet

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Alexa Internet'
Start a new discussion about 'Alexa Internet'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

-based subsidiary
Subsidiary
A subsidiary company, subsidiary, or daughter company is a company that is completely or partly owned and wholly controlled by another company that owns more than half of the subsidiary's stock. The subsidiary can be a company, corporation, or limited liability company. In some cases it is a...

 company of Amazon.com
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 that is known for its toolbar
Toolbar
In a graphical user interface, on a computer monitor, a toolbar is a GUI widget on which on-screen buttons, icons, menus, or other input or output elements are placed. Toolbars are seen in office suites, graphics editors, and web browsers...

 and Web site
Website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

. Once installed, the toolbar collects data on browsing behavior which is transmitted to the Web site where it is stored and analyzed and is the basis for the company's Web traffic
Web traffic
Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a web site. It is a large portion of Internet traffic. This is determined by the number of visitors and the number of pages they visit...

 reporting.

Operations and history


Alexa Internet was founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle
Brewster Kahle
Brewster Kahle is a computer engineer, internet entrepreneur, activist, and digital librarian.- Biography :Kahle graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science and engineering, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. The...

 and Bruce Gilliat
Bruce Gilliat
-References:...

. The company's name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant great library of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the...

, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world to the potential of the Internet.

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 Web pages as they are crawled. This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive accessible through the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine is a digital time capsule created by the Internet Archive non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California. It is maintained with content from Alexa Internet. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time, which the Archive calls a "three...

. In 1998 the company donated a copy of the archive, 2 terabytes in size, to the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. Alexa continues to supply the Internet Archive with Web crawls
Web crawler
A Web crawler is a computer program that browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner or in an orderly fashion. Other terms for Web crawlers are ants, automatic indexers, bots, Web spiders, Web robots, or—especially in the FOAF community—Web scutters.This process is called Web...

.

In 1999, Alexa was acquired by Amazon.com for about US$250 million in Amazon stock
Stock
The capital stock of a business entity represents the original capital paid into or invested in the business by its founders. It serves as a security for the creditors of a business since it cannot be withdrawn to the detriment of the creditors...

 as the company moved away from its original vision of providing an "intelligent" search engine. Alexa began a partnership with Google in early 2002, and with the Open Directory Project
Open Directory Project
The Open Directory Project , also known as Dmoz , is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links. It is owned by Netscape but it is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors.ODP uses a hierarchical ontology scheme for organizing site listings...

 in January 2003. In May 2006, Amazon replaced Google with Live Search as a provider of search results. In September 2006, they began using their own Search Platform to serve results. In December 2006, they released Alexa Image Search. Built in-house, it is the first major application to be built on their 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 service
Web service
A Web service is a method of communication between two electronic devices over the web.The W3C defines a "Web service" as "a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network". It has an interface described in a machine-processable format...

s and APIs
Application programming interface
An application programming interface is a source code based specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other...

. These could be used, for instance, to construct vertical search
Vertical search
A vertical search engine, as distinct from a general web search engine, focuses on a specific segment of online content. The vertical content area may be based on topicality, media type, or genre of content. Common verticals include shopping, the automotive industry, legal information, medical...

 engines that could run on Alexa's own servers or elsewhere. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to require comparisons be limited to three sites, reduced size embedded graphs be shown using Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

, and mandatory embedded BritePic ads.

In April 2007, the lawsuit Alexa v. Hornbaker was filed to stop trademark infringement
Trademark infringement
Trademark infringement is a violation of the exclusive rights attaching to a trademark without the authorization of the trademark owner or any licensees...

 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. Nevertheless, Alexa expressly grants permission to refer its data in third-party work subject to suitable credits.

On November 27, 2008, Amazon announced that Alexa Web Search was no longer accepting new customers, and the service would be deprecated or discontinued for existing customers on January 26, 2009.

Accuracy of ranking by the Alexa Toolbar



Alexa ranks sites based on tracking information of users of its Alexa Toolbar
Alexa Toolbar
The Alexa Toolbar, is an application produced by Alexa Internet, and is a Firefox extension and Browser Helper Object for Internet Explorer on Microsoft Windows that is used by Alexa to measure website specific statistics.-Content:...

 for Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer
Windows Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year...

 and Firefox and from their extension for Chrome
Google Chrome
Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google that uses the WebKit layout engine. It was first released as a beta version for Microsoft Windows on September 2, 2008, and the public stable release was on December 11, 2008. The name is derived from the graphical user interface frame, or...

. Hence the page is only ranked between users who have these sidebars installed and may be biased if specific audience is reluctant to do this (Windows Defender
Windows Defender
Windows Defender, formerly known as Microsoft AntiSpyware, is a software product from Microsoft to prevent, remove, and quarantine spyware in Microsoft Windows...

 has classified the sidebar as malware while it assigns it to Trojans
Trojan horse (computing)
A Trojan horse, or Trojan, is software that appears to perform a desirable function for the user prior to run or install, but steals information or harms the system. The term is derived from the Trojan Horse story in Greek mythology.-Malware:A destructive program that masquerades as a benign...

). Also, the rank is based on three month data and takes a long time to reflect changes in content that may happen after the domain has been sold. Finally, low ranks cannot be accurate not just because of the lack of data but also because of statistic laws related to the long tail distribution
Long tail
Long tail may refer to:*The Long Tail, a consumer demographic in business*Power law's long tail, a statistics term describing certain kinds of distribution*Long-tail boat, a type of watercraft native to Southeast Asia...

.

There is some controversy over how representative Alexa's user base is of typical Internet behavior, especially for less trafficked sites. In 2007 Michael Arrington
Michael Arrington
J. Michael Arrington is the founder and former co-editor of TechCrunch, a blog covering the Silicon Valley technology start-up communities and the wider technology field in USA and elsewhere...

 provided a few examples of relative Alexa ranking known to contradict data from comScore
ComScore
comScore is a Internet marketing research company providing marketing data and services to many of the Internet's largest businesses. comScore tracks all internet data on its surveyed computers in order to study online behavior....

, including ranking YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 ahead of Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

.

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 the new Alexa ranking system, claiming that they now take into account more data sources "beyond Alexa Toolbar users".

Redesign and new statistics


On March 31, 2009, the Alexa Web site underwent a complete redesign with new metrics, including page views per each individual user, bounce rate, and user time on site. In the following weeks they added new features, including demographics, clickstream and search traffic statistics. These new features were introduced in order to compete with other services, such as Compete.com and Quantcast.

Despite these changes, many in the Web marketing community still question the relevance of Alexa's information and its accuracy.

Trackware/adware


Symantec
Symantec
Symantec Corporation is the largest maker of security software for computers. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and is a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500 stock market index.-History:...

 classifies the toolbar as "trackware". McAfee
McAfee
McAfee, Inc. is a computer security company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, USA. It markets software and services to home users, businesses and the public sector. On August 19, 2010, electronics company Intel agreed to purchase McAfee for $7.68 billion...

 classifies it as adware
Adware
Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer. These advertisements can be in the form of a pop-up. They may also be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during...

, a "Potentially Unwanted Program." McAfee Site Advisor rates the Alexa site as "green", finding "no significant problems" albeit a "small fraction of downloads ... that some people consider adware or other potentially unwanted programs."