Alexa Internet

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Alexa Internet, Inc.
Type Subsidiary
Founded 1996[1]
Headquarters San Francisco, California, USA
Industry Internet information providers
Products Search Engine
Type of site Web traffic and ranking
Advertising Web banner with AdBrite
Registration N/A
Available in English
Current status Active

Alexa Internet, Inc. is a California based subsidiary company of that is known for its toolbar and website. Once installed, the toolbar collects data on browsing behavior which is transmitted to the website where it is stored and analyzed and is the basis for the company's web traffic reporting.


Operations and history

Alexa Internet was founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat.[2] The company's name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria,[3] 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.[4]

Alexa's operation includes archiving of webpages as they are crawled. This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive accessible through the Wayback Machine.[5] In 1998 the company donated a copy of the archive, 2 terabytes back then, to the Library of Congress.[3] Alexa continues to supply the Internet Archive with web crawls.

In 1999, Alexa was acquired by for about $250 million in Amazon stock[6] as the company moved away from its original vision of providing an 'intelligent' search engine. Alexa began a partnership with Google in spring 2002, and with the Open Directory Project in January 2003.[1] In May 2006, Amazon replaced Google with Live Search as a provider of search results.[7] In September 2006, they began using their own Search Platform[clarification needed] 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 services and APIs. These could be used, for instance, to construct vertical search engines that could run on Alexa's own servers or elsewhere. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to require comparisons be limited to 3 sites, reduced size embedded graphs be shown using Flash, and mandatory embedded BritePic ads.[8]

In April 2007, the lawsuit Alexa v. Hornbaker was filed to stop trademark infringement by the statsaholic service.[9] In the lawsuit, Alexa alleges that Hornbaker is stealing traffic graphs for profit, and that the primary purpose of his site is to display graphs that are generated by Alexa's servers.[10][11] Hornbaker removed the term Alexa from his service name on March 19, 2007.[12] Nevertheless, Alexa expressly grants permission to refer its data in third-party work subject to suitable credits.[13]

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.[14]

Accuracy of ranking by the Alexa Toolbar

Alexa ranks sites based on tracking information of users of its Alexa Toolbar for Internet Explorer and from integrated sidebars in Mozilla and Netscape.[15][16]

There is some controversy over how representative Alexa's user base is of typical Internet behavior,[17] especially for less trafficked sites.[16] In 2007 Michael Arrington provided a few examples of relative Alexa ranking known to contradict data from comScore, including ranking YouTube ahead of Google.[18]

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".[19]

Redesign and new statistics

On March 31, 2009, underwent a complete redesign with new metrics including: Pageviews per User, Bounce Rate, and Time on Site.[20] In the following weeks they added new features including Demographics, Clickstream and Search Traffic stats.[21]


The Alexa toolbar is regarded by many vendors, such as Symantec and McAfee, as spyware. Symantec classifies the toolbar as trackware.[22] McAfee classifies it as Adware, a "Potentially Unwanted Program."[23] McAfee Site Advisor rates the Alexa website as yellow, with the warning:

"In our tests, we found downloads on this site that some people consider adware, spyware or other potentially unwanted programs,".[24]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "About Alexa Internet". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  2. "ALEXA Internet Donates Archive of the World Wide Web To Library of Congress". Alexa press release. 1998-10-13. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "A "Gift of the Web" for the Library of Congress from Alexa Internet". 1998-10-19. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  4. Dawson, Keith (1997-07-28). "Alexa Internet opens the doors". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  5. "Internet Archive FAQs". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  6. Adam Feuerstein (1999-05-21). "E-commerce loves Street: Critical Path plans encore". 
  7. Elizabeth Montalbano (2006-05-01). "Amazon dumps Google for Windows Live". 
  8. Amit Agarwal (2007-05-06). "Alexa Traffic Charts Now Include Advertising". Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  9. "Northern California District Federal court Case number - C 07-01715 RS" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  10. Alan Graham (2007-04-18). "Amazon sues Alexaholic...everyone loses!". Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  11. Tim O'Reilly (2007-04-20). "Amazon Sues Alexaholic...Everyone Loses". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  12. Pete Cashmore (2007-04-19). "Amazon sues Statsaholic...Web as Platform is Bullsh*t". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  13. "Alexa Web Search - Help". Retrieved 2008-07-05. [dead link]
  14. Cook, John (2008-11-27). "Amazon pulling plug on Alexa Web Search". Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Harold Davis, Google advertising tools, O'Reilly Media, 2006, ISBN 0596101082, p. 12
  17. Alistair Croll, Seán Power, Complete Web Monitoring, O'Reilly Media, 2009, ISBN 0596155131, p. 38
  18. Michael Arrington, Make Believe Internet, Alexa Says YouTube Is Now Bigger Than Google. Alexa Is Useless TechCrunch
  19. Alexa Announcement[dead link]
  20. Mack, Geoffrey (2009-03-31). "Pardon out dust". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  21. Mack, Geoffrey (2009-04-14). "More New Alexa Features:Domgraphics, Clickstream, Search Traffic". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  22. "Trackware. Alexa -". 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  23. "Adware-Alexa". 2005-02-23. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  24. "". September 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 

External links

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