Lesson #1a - Calibrating Alexa
[This is a follow-up to Lesson #1 - Using Alexa]
The question was asked, "If you know that a web site has a rank of 1,000 on Alexa, what does that mean in terms of real traffic? How many visitors a month is that?"
The way you figure that out is by calibrating alexa. Many sites will publish or announce their "unique monthly visitors", and by finding several announcements like that you can determine, roughly, what the Alexa rank means.
The easiest way to do this is to go to Google news and type in a search phrase like, "unique monthly visitors" or "monthly unique visitors" (with or without quotes) and see what you get. When I try it tonight, here is one of the stories that pops up:
NYTimes.com March traffic up 17 percent
The article states that in March 2005, NYTimes.com got 15 million unique visitors in March and 551 million page views (36 pages per visitor, which is excellent - typical is more like 10 for a "typical" content site). Now you look at Alexa and see that NYTimes.com's rank is hovering between 100 and 120 in March 2005. So what that tells you is that sites with ranks around 100 will have roughly 15 million visitors a month.
Here is another article and it says that USAToday.com has 9.6 million unique visitors in March of 2005. The rank on Alexa is floating between 200 and 300. So sites with ranks around 250 have about 10 million visitors.
Here is another article that says that ComputerWorld.com has more than 1 million unique visitors per month. It's rank on Alexa fluctuates between 5,000 and 10,000, so a web site with a rank of 7,500 or so gets about 1 million visitors.
If you do this enough, you build up a profile and you can roughly say that:
- Rank 1 is 120 million people or so per month
- Rank 100 is 15 million people or so per month
- Rank 250 is 10 million people or so per month
- Rank 1,000 is 5 million people or so per month
- Rank 10,000 is 1 million people or so per month
- Rank 50,000 is 200,000 people or so per month
Your question at this point might be, "How many visitors do I need to start making any money with a Web site?" Here are some ranges:
- Even at a very low level of something like 25 visitors a day (less than a thousand unique monthly visitors), you may have enough traffic to recover your hosting costs -- maybe $25/month.
- If you work up to something in the range of 10,000 visitors per month, then you can imagine making a few hundred dollars a month fairly easily.
- To make "more than a thousand dollars per month" with a web site, you are shooting for a staring point of 50,000 or so unique monthly visitors reading 10 pages or so per visitor. At that level, you will find your site bouncing consistently into and out of the top 100,000 web sites on Alexa.
- At the 100,000 to 200,000 visitors per month level, you can start to imagine supporting a person full time with a Web site.