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Does Google use Alexa in its algorithm in any way?

Discussion in 'Traffic Analysis' started by OIOplus, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. alexahit

    alexahit Guest

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    #41
    Sorry, this offer is for Phynder who posted a $100 reward challenge to manipulate the Alexa rank of any URL. Phynder will need to accept this offer otherwise, if you are interested in a long term solution alexahit.com can assist you or your friends needs.

    Respectfully
    SEMrush
     
    alexahit, Sep 25, 2006 IP
    SEMrush
  2. mad4

    mad4 Peon

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    #42
    Its easy. Just get a few old PC's and make them continually refresh your website all day. Stick a meta refresh on one of your pages to automate it.
     
    mad4, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  3. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #43
    Here is the problem - everyone says it, but no one can produce results. My $100 offer is still out there. If you can produce those results on one of my URLs - then the $100 is yours.
     
    Phynder, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  4. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #44
    Actually for many topics/niches Alexa's stats are highly unreliable and are from a different planet. This is because Alexa stats depend on people installing the Alexa toolbar and corporate, government and academic IT departments are getting much better at preventing users from installing things like Alexa on their network computers. For instance the bulk of my traffic comes from corporate, government and academic networks due to the nature of my site and even though my real traffic has remained stable over the past few years Alexa has reported a continual downward trend in traffic for my site.

    Alexa approximates their stats based on the relative about of Alexa user traffic a site gets vs. the Internet at large. If my real traffic (via server logs and AdSense stats) is remaining stable and Alexa is reporting a downward trend then it can only mean that a smaller and smaller percentage of my users are installing Alexa compared to Internet users at large.

    People MUST remember that Alexa depends on users installing the Alexa toolbar and most IT departments (at least the ones that have their act together) have banned the unauthorized installation of software on their network computers AND enforce those acceptable use policies via centrally controlled Windows group policy managers. Four or five years ago IT departments weren't as good at enforcing written down acceptable use policies, but with Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory IT departments have become much more effective at locking down the desktop.

    At the same time Alexa over inflates the traffic stats for some niches (e.g. webmaster forums) where the main users of said niches tend to install the Alexa toolbar at a much higher rate than the Internet at large.
     
    KLB, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  5. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #45
    I'm not out for your $100 however the following is a post I made in SitePoint Forums in Feb 2004 (http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1110066&postcount=11) providing a proof of concept of how to subvert Alexa stats. I ran the experiment for SitePoint users back then creating obvious spikes in my Alexa stats (pushing me well below the 50,000 mark). I ran the experiment on an old P166 Win95 box I had. I have no desire to repeat the experiment on my site as I don't want potential advertisers to be mislead by my actions if they do use Alexa; however, anyone here is free to use this script to try it out on THEIR OWN site.

    The more different computers this script is running on that have different IP addresses the more effective the script becomes. I'd also recommend giving each computer a different array of URLs to use and the bigger the array of URLs the better. It might also help to use a really big array of URLs and modify the script to pick random URLs rather than visiting the URLs in a sequential fashion as the script below does. This would help "hide" obvious patterns. Periodically closing IE and clearing all cookies and the cache can help reduce Alexa being able to track individual computers.



    ====Original Post===
    Save the following code to an HTML file on your computer, make necessary modifications and then run in MSIE with Alexa installed.

    Here is some advice in regards to this script:

    1) Don't get greedy. Only run occasionally and sporadically. Have friends use it as well if they are willing.

    2) Disable the loading of images while this script is running (do this after Alexa bar has loaded completely in new window) to reduce the consumption of your bandwidth.

    3) Only use it in regards to your own sites. Don't use it on somebody else's website.

    4) If you are running Win95 plan on rebooting afterwards. I have found Win95 is really grumpy after this script has been running all night.

    It should be noted that I only posted this code because I think that the shortcomings of Alexa need to be promoted so as to get people to stop thinking that Alexa stats are useful or have any relation to reality. I do not encourage individuals to use this script to defraud others.

    
    <html>
    	<head><title>Reload</title>
    	<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript1.2" type="text/javascript"><!--
    		function reload(){
    			var strI=document.stored.Arrayvalue.value;
    			var str = new Array(20);
    			// insert target URLs between quote marks in array items below. 
    			// To add or remove the total number items in the array, add
    			// lines to or remove lines from the array below and
    			// modify the number in "Array()" above and "strI" below to
    			// be one greater than the last "str[]" value below.
    			str[1]   = "";
    			str[2]   = "";
    			str[3]   = "";
    			str[4]   = "";
    			str[5]   = "";
    			str[6]   = "";
    			str[7]   = "";
    			str[8]   = "";
    			str[9]   = "";
    			str[10]  = "";
    			str[11]  = "";
    			str[12]  = "";
    			str[13]  = "";
    			str[14]  = "";
    			str[15]  = "";
    			str[16]  = "";
    			str[17]  = "";
    			str[18]  = "";
    			str[19]  = "";
    			
    				if( strI==20){
    					strI=1;
    					}
    				else{
    					URL=str[strI];
    					window.open(URL,'EC');
    					strI++;
    					}
    				document.stored.Arrayvalue.value= strI;
    				var intNumber=Math.round(Math.random()*45000);
    				if(intNumber<5000){intNumber=intNumber+5000;}
    				setTimeout("reload()",intNumber);
    			}
    		
    //-->
    </script>
    </head><body onload="reload();">
    	<form name="stored"><input type="Text" name="Arrayvalue" value="1"></form>
    </body></html>
    
    Code (markup):
     
    KLB, Sep 26, 2006 IP
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  6. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #46
    No disrespect to you Ken, but - everyone keeps posting how "easy" it is - yet no one is willing to take the challenge.

    Also, you said you could obtain "obvious spikes". I am not looking for spikes - I am looking for long-term Alexa manipulation. Long-term being 30 days below the 50K level. Below 50K every single day. Every single day. I say it cannot be done.
     
    Phynder, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  7. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #47
    The reason I obtained obvious spikes is because I would run the script for a couple of days, then shut it off for a few and then turn it back on to prove my point.

    The problem is that this basically ties up multiple computers and since I only have an old P166 Win95 box that is spare and could be dedicated to this process, it would take to much TLC to keep the box running for a month.

    This is why I provided the source code for my script. If someone wants to beat their own site up and suck up bandwidth on their site they are more than happy to see it does work. The question is how badly does one want a top 50,000 ranking? Are they willing to basically dedicate a few different computers on different IP addresses to the task day in and day out they could inflate their ranking.
     
    KLB, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  8. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #48
    So, I would conclude from this that manipulating Alexa is NOT easy, but requires some effort. I keep getting responses that it is "easy" to mainuplate Alexa. That is the point I am debating, not "why does one want a top 50K rating?"

    Thanks for helping prove my point - I appreciate your input and the clear technical description of how you would go about attempting to manipulate Alexa.
     
    Phynder, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  9. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #49
    From this stance you are correct. Technically speaking it isn't difficult to implement a method for manipulating Alexa. It does; however, take a dedicated effort to follow through with the routine required. Now, for some people the financial gain will be plenty of incentive to follow through with the required routine.

    The point being that one should not rely on Alexa rating as a primary consideration when buying a domain from someone else or when buying advertising and when looking at the Alexa rating watch for really dramatic changes in rankings.

    I think the problem with your point was defining "easy". Now at least we all know what is involved and everyone can decide if it meets their definition of easy. If I had an extra computer that was any good and a "less serious" website that I didn't care about I might have demonstrated my method, but I don't have a spare computer that is any good and I don't want to screw around with my existing websites.

    I'm sure that there are some "black hats" here at DP who are or will quietly used methods similar to what I describe to inflate their Alexa stats for nefarious purposes and this is the point that should be taken away from my technical description. If it really matters, don't put all your faith in Alexa stats.
     
    KLB, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  10. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #50
    This is where we disagree - I think it takes a lot of resources to manipulate Alexa and I doubt any "black hats" would spend two minutes trying to manipulate it - there is no reasonable gain.

    BTW - my definition of easy is "falling off a log."
     
    Phynder, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  11. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #51
    That is a pretty descriptive definition of easy. :p

    Running a script like the one I described on one reasonably stable computer (e.g. WinXP) would be good to say move a site from 150,000 to the 80,000 range and if one has spare computers that are running all of the time it wouldn't be much leave the computer running using this script. Breaking below the 50,000 mark might take two or three computers running on different IPs. Also some sort of IP rotation like a router with a dynamic IP pool could improve the effectiveness.

    The best place for finacial gain would be selling a domain or website (like a proxy service). One could slowly ramp up the usage of the script over a few weeks to make traffic growth look natural and then run it for a couple of months to make a website look more popular than it is and sell the domain/site for more money than they would otherwise. It could also be used as a scam to attract advertisers who focus too heavily on Alexa stats for deciding how much a site is worth. We all know that some advertisers are willing to spend more on a site with an Alexa rank of 80,000 then they are on a site with an Alexa rank of 150,000.
     
    KLB, Sep 26, 2006 IP
  12. mad4

    mad4 Peon

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    #52
    Maybe if you offered $1000 I may be more interested. Its not really worth setting up a script on your site and sorting some PC's to run all day for $100.
     
    mad4, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  13. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #53
    It isn't "easy" then - is it? If it was easy, then $100 would be a steal.
     
    Phynder, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  14. mad4

    mad4 Peon

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    #54
    If I had some old PC's sitting around then it would be easy. Unfortunately I don't.......:)
     
    mad4, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  15. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #55
    Come on - just say it - it isn't easy! Especially if you would need $1000 to do it.

    Thanks for helping me prove my point!
     
    Phynder, Sep 27, 2006 IP
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  16. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #56
    Just because Mad4 or myself don't have spare computers laying around doesn't mean that some scammer doesn't have spare machines laying about that they could easily (yes falling off the log easy) dedicate to this project. It takes all of an hour to set up my script and get it running. After that one just needs to check the computer the script is running on every now and then to see that it is running correctly. In my area it might cost $5 per month per computer in extra electricity usage.

    Heck here is an even easier way to inflate one's Alexa stats especially if one has a higher than normal percentage of users who use Alexa. Simply add a timed meta refresh to pages when the user is using IE (ala Google News and Yahoo News). One could even try to convince some friends to leave an instance of their browser pointed to a special page running the meta refresh.

    In a way, forums like DigitalPoint have artificially inflated Alexa stats because of the number of extra page loads required to do tasks like posting a message compared to a traditional website. Going to the advanced reply form to post this reply is one extra page view and then submitting the form is two more pageviews because of the redirect.

    --EDIT--
    In regards to set up time, the entire set up time is related to choosing URLs for the array (maybe randomizing which URL is choosen). Once the HTML file is created all one needs to do is point one's browser to it. The file can be stored on the local hard drive or hosted on one's site so that multiple people can easily point their browser to it.
     
    KLB, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  17. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #57
    But, what you are saying is - it isn't $100 worth easy?
     
    Phynder, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  18. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #58
    I charge $50 per hour for my time and over a course of a month I'm sure this project would consume 4-6 hours of my time. On top of this I have to look at server load. To pull off a stunt like this one does have to send requests to the server, which does increase load, which I do not want to do. Finally like I said before I don't care if you paid me $1,000 for this stunt I don't want to intentionally screw with my Alexa stats as it could inadvertently defraud a potential advertiser who used my really good, but fake, Alexa ranking in their decision to advertise on one of my sites. Again, I don't have a throw away site I am willing to screw with.

    I have in the past run the experiment (before I directly sold ad space to advertisers) and I have found that Alexa rankings can be manipulated using my script as I have described. When I ran the experiment for related Sitepoint threads people in those threads did acknowledge seeing the improvements in my Alexa ranking caused by using my script.

    For those who do not believe me that this is possible or who want to validate my findings on their own, I have provided all of my tools and methods. This way my experiment can be repeated and my findings verified by a third party as is the proper procedure for any "scientific" investigation.

    Based on my experiment I am satisfied that it isn't exceedingly hard to manipulate Alexa in a consistent manner. If you don't want to take my word for it, then run my experiment yourself on your own websites.
     
    KLB, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  19. Phynder

    Phynder Well-Known Member

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    #59
    Exactly - it is not easy - correct?
     
    Phynder, Sep 27, 2006 IP
  20. KLB

    KLB Peon

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    #60
    Can it be done if a few minutes, no, but time required does not define easy.

    The technical skill required to defeat Alexa is extremely low, so technically it is very easy to inflate one's Alexa stats. In fact I have provided people with everything they need to know to do it. Anyone who can copy my code, save it to an HTML file and follow my instructions for adding URLs to the array can begin to inflate their stats, how much they inflate their stats will depend upon how many computers they dedicate to the process.

    The problem is that you are trying to define easy in the most unreasonable narrow fashion. Based on how you are trying to define easy you should really be using the word "quick". Something can be very easy but still require time to complete. I think many here including my self are defining easy as the technical skill required. It is obvious that if one is going to continue out an experiment for a whole month one needs to spend some time each day checking the computer running the script, emptying the cache, deleting cookies and rebooting the computer. None of this is hard.
     
    KLB, Sep 27, 2006 IP