Alexa Internet

Alexa Internet, Inc. was an American web traffic analysis company based in San Francisco. It was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.

Alexa Internet, Inc.
Alexa homepage after May 1, 2022
Type of businessInternet
Type of site
Web traffic and ranking
Available inEnglish
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, United States
Created byBrewster Kahle, Bruce Gilliat
PresidentAndrew Ramm[1]
Key peopleAndrew Ramm (president and GM)
Dave Sherfese (vice president)[1]
IndustryWeb traffic
ProductsAlexa Web Search (discontinued 2008)
Alexa toolbar
LaunchedApril 1, 1996 (1996-04-01)[2]
Current statusDiscontinued (as of October 30, 2022 (2022-10-30))

Alexa was founded as an independent company in 1996 and acquired by Amazon in 1999 for $250 million in stock. Alexa provided web traffic data, global rankings, and other information on over 30 million websites.[3] Alexa estimated website traffic based on a sample of millions of Internet users using browser extensions, as well as from sites that had chosen to install an Alexa script.[4] As of 2020, its website was visited by over 400 million people every month.

In December 2021, Amazon announced that it would be shutting down its Alexa Internet subsidiary. The service was then discontinued on May 1, 2022.[5][6]

Operations and history


Alexa Internet was founded in April 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat.[7] The company's name was chosen in homage to the Library of Alexandria of Ptolemaic Egypt, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the potential of the Internet to become a similar store of knowledge.[8] Alexa initially offered a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, based on the traffic patterns of its user community. The company 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.[9]

Alexa's operations grew to include archiving of web pages as they are "crawled" and examined by an automated computer program (nicknamed a "bot" or "web crawler"). This database served as the basis for the creation of the Internet Archive accessible through the Wayback Machine.[10] In 1998, the company donated a copy of the archive, two terabytes in size, to the Library of Congress.[8] Alexa continued to supply the Internet Archive with Web crawls. In 1999, as the company moved away from its original vision of providing an "intelligent" search engine, Alexa was acquired by for approximately US$250 million in Amazon stock.[11]


Alexa began a partnership with Google in early 2002, and with the web directory DMOZ in January 2003.[12] 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 servers or elsewhere. In May 2006, Google was replaced with Windows Live Search as a provider of search results.[13] In December 2006, Amazon released Alexa Image Search. Built in-house, it was the first major application built on the company's Web platform. In May 2007, Alexa changed their API to limit comparisons to three websites, reduce the size of embedded graphs in Flash, and add mandatory embedded BritePic advertisements.

In April 2007, the company filed a lawsuit, Alexa v. Hornbaker, to stop trademark infringement by the Statsaholic service.[14] In the lawsuit, Alexa alleged that Ron Hornbaker was stealing traffic graphs for profit, and that the primary purpose of his site was to display graphs that were generated by Alexa's servers.[15] Hornbaker removed the term Alexa from his service name on March 19, 2007.[16] On November 27, 2008, Amazon announced that Alexa Web Search was no longer accepting new customers, and that the service would be deprecated or discontinued for existing customers on January 26, 2009.[17] Thereafter, Alexa became a purely analytics-focused company.

On March 31, 2009, Alexa revealed a major website redesign. The redesigned site provided new web traffic metrics—including average page views per individual user, bounce rate (the rate of users who come to, and then leave a webpage), and user time on website.[18] In the following weeks, Alexa added more features, including visitor demographics, clickstream and web search traffic statistics.[19]


During this period, Alexa had been evolving along with their algorithm. Statistics projection and the use of their technology associated with a large network of certificated websites allowed them to keep ahead of the website traffic metrics around the world. Because of this, many large sites were using it as the main reference of popularity on the internet.

End of service

On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, Amazon announced the cessation of its website ranking and competitive analysis service, which has been available to the public for more than 25 years. The statement first published on its website specifies the total cessation of the service as of May 1, 2022. On December 8, it became no longer possible to create accounts or buy subscriptions on the service. Existing subscriptions would be available until May 1, 2022, UTC, then on May 1, 2022 everything on the site was removed and replaced with "End of Service Notice".[5][6][20]

Alexa Traffic Rank

A key metric published from Alexa Internet analytics was the Alexa Traffic Rank, also simply known as Alexa Rank. It was also referred to as Global Rank by Alexa Internet and was designed to be an estimate of a website's popularity. As of May 2018, Alexa Internet's tooltip for Global Rank said the rank is calculated from a combination of daily visitors and page views on a website over a three-month period.[21]

The Alexa Traffic Rank could be used to monitor the popularity trend of a website and compare the popularity of different websites.[22]

The traffic rank used to be determined from data recollected from users that had the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser. As of 2020, Alexa did not use a toolbar; instead, it used data from users that had installed any of a number of browser extensions and from websites that had the Alexa script installed on their webpages.[23][24]


Browser extensions

Alexa replaced their toolbar with browser extensions. These extensions were made available for Google Chrome and Firefox browsers. The Alexa browser extension displayed the Alexa Traffic Rank for websites, showed related websites, provided search analytics, and quickly allowed users to view the Internet Archive through the Wayback Machine.[25] They were last updated in May 2020, two years prior to the service's closure.


Alexa used to rank sites based primarily on tracking a sample set of Internet traffic—users of its browser toolbar for the Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers.[26][27] The Alexa Toolbar included a popup blocker (which stops unwanted ads), a search box, links to and the Alexa homepage, and the Alexa ranking of the website that the user is visiting. It also allowed the user to rate the website and view links to external, relevant websites. In early 2005, Alexa stated that there had been 10 million downloads of the toolbar, though the company did not provide statistics about active usage. Originally, web pages were only ranked amongst users who had the Alexa Toolbar installed, and could be biased if a specific audience subgroup was reluctant to take part in the rankings. This caused some controversies over how representative Alexa's user base was of typical Internet behavior,[28] especially for less-visited sites.[27] In 2007, Michael Arrington provided examples of Alexa rankings known to contradict data from the comScore web analytics service, including ranking YouTube ahead of Google.[29] In 2021 John Mueller from Google confirmed again that Google doesn't use Amazon Alexa Rank.[30]

Search Status

Until 2007, a third-party-supplied Mozilla plug-in called Search Status for the Firefox browser[31] served as the only option for Firefox users after Amazon abandoned its A9 toolbar.[32] On July 16, 2007, Alexa released an official toolbar for Firefox called Sparky.[33] On 16 April 2008, many users reported drastic shifts in their Alexa rankings. Alexa confirmed this later in the day with an announcement that they had released an updated ranking system, claiming that they would now take into account more sources of data "beyond Alexa Toolbar users".[34][35]

Certified statistics

Using the Alexa Pro service, website owners could sign up for "certified statistics", which allowed Alexa more access to a website's traffic data.[36] Site owners input JavaScript code on each page of their website that, if permitted by the user's security and privacy settings, ran and sent traffic data to Alexa, allowing Alexa to display—or not display, depending on the owner's preference—more accurate statistics such as total page views and unique page views.

Privacy assessments

Alexa last detailed their privacy notice in July 2020 as part of their Website Terms of Use and End User License Agreement.[37]

See also


  1. "Management". Alexa Internet. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
  2. "About Alexa Internet". Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  3. "About". Alexa. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  4. "Alexa - Alexa Internet - About Us". Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved July 17, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. "Amazon closing down Alexa, the popular web traffic ranking site". The Daily Star. December 9, 2021. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  6. "We will be retiring on May 1, 2022". Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  7. "ALEXA Internet Donates Archive of the World Wide Web To Library of Congress". Alexa press release. October 13, 1998. Archived from the original on October 13, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  8. "A "Gift of the Web" for the Library of Congress from Alexa Internet". October 19, 1998. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  9. Keith Dawson (July 28, 1997). "Alexa Internet opens the doors". Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  10. "Internet Archive FAQs". Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  11. Adam Feuerstein (May 21, 1999). "E-commerce loves Street: Critical Path plans encore". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  12. "About Alexa Internet". Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  13. Elizabeth Montalbano (May 1, 2006). "Amazon dumps Google for Windows Live". Infoworld. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  14. "Northern California District Federal court Case number — C 07-01715 RS" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 22, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  15. Alan Graham (April 18, 2007). "Amazon sues Alexaholic...everyone loses!". ZDnet. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  16. Pete Cashmore (April 19, 2007). "Amazon sues Statsaholifghkhc...Web as Platform is Bullsh*t". Mashable. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  17. John Cook (November 27, 2008). "Amazon pulling plug on Alexa Web Search". Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  18. Geoffrey Mack (March 31, 2009). "Pardon our dust". Alexa Internet. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  19. Geoffrey Mack (April 14, 2009). "More New Alexa Features: Demographics, Clickstream, Search Traffic". Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  20. "End of Service Notice". May 2, 2022. Archived from the original on May 2, 2022. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  21. " Traffic Statistics". Alexa Internet. Global Rank. Archived from the original on May 9, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  22. Fulham, Liz (May 10, 2018). "How & Why to Improve Your Alexa Ranking". Sales@Optimize. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017.
  23. "Alexa - Alexa Internet - About Us".
  24. Yesbeck, Jennifer (October 1, 2014). "Alexa Increases its Global Traffic Panel". Alexa Blog.
  25. "The Alexa Browser Extension". Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  26. "Technology: How and Why We Crawl the Web". Alexa. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  27. Harold Davis (2006). Google Advertising Tools: Cashing in with AdSense, Adwords, and the Google APIs. O'Reilly Media. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-596-10108-4.
  28. Alistair Croll; Seán Power (2009). Complete Web Monitoring: Watching Your Visitors, Performance, Communities, and Competitors. O'Reilly Media. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-596-15513-1.
  29. Michael Arrington. "Alexa's Make Believe Internet"; "Alexa Says YouTube Is Now Bigger Than Google. Alexa Is Useless". TechCrunch. 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  30. Murari, Krishna. "Google Do Not Use Domain Authority And Alexa Rank | The Seo Today". Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  31. "SearchStatus: A Search Extension for Firefox and SeaMonkey". Archived from the original on June 27, 2013.
  32. Home Archived June 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  33. "Sparky Add-on for Firefox Released Today". Alexa Blog. July 16, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  34. "Alexa Announcement". Alexa. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  35. "Alexa Overhauls Ranking System". TechCrunch. April 16, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  36. "Alexa Pro for Digital Marketers". Alexa. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  37. "Alexa - Alexa Internet - Privacy Notice". Retrieved September 18, 2020.
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