Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com which provides commercial web traffic data.
Alexa collects and analyzes data on Internet browsing behavior from its toolbar for the Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers. The data on website statistics, such as pageviews and unique page views, form the basis for Alexa’s ranking of sites. Many for-profit websites depend on their Alexa rankings to attract ad sponsors and revenue.
The company claims that 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.
But is Alexa objective in its rankings?
Leo Hohmann reports for WND, Oct. 14, 2014:
How could every major alternative website that challenges the mainstream, establishment view of Washington and the world be experiencing a drop-off in readership while their counterparts on the other side of the political spectrum are gaining readers?
It appears unlikely, yet that’s exactly what happened last month, according to Alexa.com, which measures web traffic and ranks websites from the most popular to the least popular.
The Drudge Report, WND, Breitbart, Fox News, the Blaze, Newsmax, CNSNEWS, the Daily Caller, Infowars and Natural News are all plunging in popularity, according to Alexa’s rankings.
At the same time, pro-government sites like the Daily Kos, ThinkProgress, Media Matters, MSNBC, NPR.org and Democracy Now! are all rising in popularity, according to Alexa.
Alexa rankings are important because they are among a handful of measurement tools used by companies when deciding where to spend their advertising dollars.
The San Francisco-based subsidiary of Amazon has refused to return phone calls or emails from WND seeking comment on its latest rankings.
Alexa did post a blog on its website Oct. 1 explaining that it had increased the size of its global traffic panel, which was supposed to make its estimated rankings more accurate.
But alternative news sites aren’t impressed with the results.
Several responded in WND’s first report on the mysterious trend. And more have responded since that article was published, including the head of Breitbart News, who is not buying the new figures released by Alexa.
“Despite increasing traffic on Breitbart.com, the Alexa rankings for Breibart.com dropped significantly in one month. That certainly calls into question Alexa’s newly reported numbers,” Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News, told WND. […]
But that’s exactly what happened to NaturalNews.com, a site operated by Mike Adams, a scientist also known as the “health ranger.”
“Natural News can confirm that in the time period depicted as a sharp drop in traffic by Alexa.com, our unique visitor numbers have actually risen sharply, in part due to the very high level of interest in the uncontrolled Ebola outbreak,” Adams told WND. “To see a rise in traffic depicted as a visual drop on Alexa’s chart is troubling, especially given that this drop primarily appears to be taking place across sites known to be truth-telling news sources like Natural News.”
NaturalNews.com is among the top 750 websites in the U.S. and among the very top alternative sites focusing on health issues, yet Alexa lowered its ranking during a period when readers were intensely interested in the site’s Ebola coverage.
Besides reporting on Ebola, Natural News has investigated the controversial use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the U.S. food supply, and also lists “factory farming and corruption in government” among the topics it covers on its mission statement.
Joseph Farah, editor and CEO of WND, said Alexa appears to be taking sides in the media wars, for the establishment and against those sites that seek to hold government accountable.
“It’s really infuriating that after two solid days of calling and emailing Alexa about this issue, no one there is responding,” said Farah, who founded WND as the first independent Internet news agency in 1997. “I suppose we should just accept the fact that Alexa has decided corporately, apparently along with its parent Amazon, that it is joining the two-decades-long war on the alternative New Media.”
Michael McGuire of NightTalker Radio Network and NightTalker.com, said WND’s initial report on Alexa answered some of his long-held questions.
“Our audience numbers have been spiking, amazingly and amazingly and amazingly, and all of a sudden [it’s the] last week of September and it’s showing everything down,” McGuire said. “You look at a billion websites online and look at the number that are for constitutional government and free speech, and it’s beyond belief that this would happen.”
McGuire said his site was experiencing increasing traffic last year when it published stories about the death of freelance reporter Michael Hastings, who died in a mysterious car crash in California.
“Our listenership spiked by 20 to 30K a day and our Alexa ranking reflected that. And then two weeks later, guess what? Our Alexa rating disappeared. Ever since that day, I’ve believed Alexa was politically driven,” he said. “This is the smoking gun. This is huge.”
Read the rest of the WND article here.
Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM) is no Internet giant like WND, Breitbart, and Natural News. But I’ve also noticed a steep and continuing drop in Alexa’s rankings for FOTM, although our stats (according to our server WordPress) say the number of daily views has increased. To illustrate:
Note: The smaller the number of the ranking, the better.
That FOTM went from a USA ranking of 16,850 (on 9/15/2014) to 49,305 (on 10/14/2014) in the space of a month stretches credulity.