Alexa web traffic stats: Display varies by browser

Earlier today I was editing a post by Susan Mernit on Oakland Local (the community news & views site I’ve been working on lately). She was using the popular service Alexa.com to compare traffic statistics for three other Oakland-based web sites, for her post today: Can you gentrify the local web?

I got pretty confused when I couldn’t immediately replicate on Alexa the results of the searches Susan linked to there. Alexa appeared to be displaying some very different types of information from what Susan’s story described.

Finally, I realized that, at least on a Mac, the information that Alexa displays for site statistics can vary by browser.

Here’s an example…

I’m a Mac user. Just now I searched Alexa for site statistics on Contentious.com. My preferred web browser is Firefox, but I’ve also been experimenting with Chrome.

Here’s what I saw on Alexa via Firefox:


…Note the columns on the right are “Traffic Rank” and “Change,” and no chart data is displayed.

In contrast, here’s what I saw when I did the same search at at the same time via the Safari browser:


…Now the data is all about how Alexa measures “reach,” not rank.

I did a test on a friend’s Windows PC, and Internet Explorer for Windows showed Alexa data the same way Safari did.

Susan tends to use Safari; so when I tried to replicate her searches in Firefox and Chrome, I thought something was wrong. Finally I figured out that this was a browser issue.

I have no explanation for this — although I’m curious why this happens. (Readers, if you know the answer, please comment below.) I’m just saying, if you use Alexa, and you’re not seeing the kind of site statistics you wanted, try using a different browser.

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