Wednesday, October 31

Alexa - Web Discovery Machine (Stats, Resources & Fun!)

"Founded in April 1996, Alexa Internet grew out of a vision of Web navigation that is intelligent and constantly improving with the participation of its users. Along the way Alexa has developed an installed based of millions of toolbars, one of the largest Web crawls and an infrastructure to process and serve massive amounts of data. For users of Alexa's Toolbar and web site this has resulted in products that have revolutionized Web navigation and intelligence. For developers this has resulted in a set of tools unprecedented in scope allowing whole new services to be created on the Alexa data and platform" ...more

"Alexa is continually crawling all publicly available web sites to create a series of snapshots of the Web. They use the data they collect to create features and services:

  • Site Information: Traffic rankings, pictures of sites, links pointing to sites and more
  • Related Links: Sites that are similar to the one you are currently viewing

Currently, Alexa gathers approximately 1.6 Terabytes (1600 gigabytes) of Web content per day. After each snapshot of the Web, which takes approximately two months to complete, Alexa has gathered 4.5 Billion pages from over 16 million sites"...more

Whether the results are 100% accurate or not (methodology!), Alexa has a wonderful set of learning tools (Search, Traffic Rankings, Director, Alexa Toolbar and Developer's Corner) to search, discover, rank and compare different sites around the world. For example, the most visited sites in all 'Education' categories are:
  1. W3C - The World Wide Web Consortium
  2. How Stuff Works
  3. Classmates
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  5. National University of Singapore (NUS)

Surprisingly, NUS is ranked ahead of (6) University of California, Berkeley , (7) Stanford University, and (8) Harvard University. How is that possible? Well, this should give us some incentive to research 'Why' this is the case. Let the students figure this one out! Also, perhaps Wikipedia should be placed in the education category. Yes, it will probably be ranked No. 1.

What about Malaysia? Currently, Yahoo is ranked No.1, but interestingly Friendster is No. 2, and Facebook is way down in 11th. I suppose in two months time, Facebook will probably overtake Friendster.

The beauty of Alexa is that you can actually use this tool to compare different sites of your own liking. In this example I have compared 5 Mambo Jumbo sites (Don't need to clarify!):

If you haven't tried or used Alexa, it might be time to have some fun learning with your friends, colleagues or students exploring different rankings and comparing your favourite sites :)

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