I have been studying Alexa now for about 6 months. First you will find two major points of view, both of which are simplistic.
- Alexa is simple to improve, just do xyz
- Alexa is unreliable and worthless
There are MANY articles that claim to tell you how to improve your rank and also many that give solid advice.
Some things I consider bad ( or simply ineffective ) advice are:
- Look at your Alexa monthly. It is unreliable daily
I get good feedback on a daily basis with ONE number.
- Simply install the Alexa widget on your website
I have done this and have seen no discernible correlation.
- Use the Alexa toolbar.
Not available for my browser.
The internet is extremely complex and competitive, so your rank will fluctuate wildly at higher numbers. A large drop in numbers should not cause panic but it can be a useful indicator. If you are fortunate to have a very popular website you will see fluctuations in smaller numbers.
At one point my website increased by 3 Million from 9 Million to 12 Million ( less popular ). It turns out it was correlated to my efforts to block spammers from hitting my web-server. After I started getting more involved in the community surrounding my website, posting better and more regular content my rank corrected and now has a better trajectory fluctuating at around 7.7 Million, without the spammers. So it is now a better indicator.
You should look at the Alexa number over a period of time and in relation to what is happening around your website. If your rank is getting worse there is usually a reason. However it is not always obvious and not a always a quick fix.
I track my number daily with a module I wrote and I try to record key events, there is usually a correlation.
In addition to Alexa I look at Traffic, Optimization, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster and Google Adsense. All are important but at my low visit numbers only Alexa gives me a good sense of which direction my site is going.