If you're following some of the recent comment threads about New Newsvine, you may have seen claims that most of Newsvine's traffic comes from India. This is usually stated as fact with no attribution as to where the data is coming from.
Here's an example:
One thing I learned from all of this was how incredibly small Newsvine was to begin with. I was pretty much shocked to learn that most of the NV traffic was from India. That is a statistic that is pretty hard to appreciate until you realize that it means NV was a target for fake traffic since people could use the site to generate revenue for themselves by banging articles with bots all day long.
Interesting. (But almost certainly not true.)
So where is the data coming from? Oh, right: Alexa:
Alexa ranks sites based primarily on tracking information of users of its toolbar for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome. Therefore, the webpages viewed are only ranked amongst users who have these sidebars installed, and may be biased if a specific audience subgroup is reluctant to do this. Also, the ranking is based on three-month data, and thus takes a long time to reflect changes in content that may happen after a domain has been sold or undergone a major redesign. Furthermore, low rankings cannot be accurate, not merely due to the paucity of data but also because of statistical laws related to the long tail distribution.
Alexa ranks sites (including Newsvine) based on an analysis of visits by people who have taken the initiative to install the Alexa toolbar. If you haven't done that, you don't count. Without knowing who on Newsvine has actually installed the toolbar, it's impossible to know whether Alexa's data is accurate. My assumption is that most of Newsvine's active userbase (if not most of Newsvine's US userbase) has not taken the step to download and install a tracking toolbar from some company they've probably never heard of, let alone one that Microsoft once banned for spreading malware.
On top of that, no version of the Alexa toolbar is available for Safari. If you use Safari, you don't count.
It's widely considered to be a terrible metric for evaluating traffic on a website.
Back to the India claim.
Unfortunately, no one outside of Newsvine has access to internal data about Newsvine's stats -- certainly those making the India claim do not -- so it's impossible to compare internal stats against Alexa stats.
Still, I was skeptical, so I did some looking, and I found an actual case study in which someone compared his internal Google Analytics statistics against Alexa's statistics, which happened to show a similarly large percentage of traffic coming from India, much to his surprise. That'll do, pig.
The results of Amdac's investigation aren't surprising but they do (or should but probably won't) lay to rest the absurd claim that is regularly bandied about regarding Newsvine's traffic rush from India:
54% of my traffic comes from India? Wow, that's odd. Especially considering that according to google, only 4% of all traffic to my site comes from India. In addition, my own logs show that roughly 3% of my traffic comes from India.
My stats according to Google which appear to be way more accurate:
36.48% - United States
32.19% - Canada
5.84% - United Kingdom
So why exactly do people still rely on Alexa?
Good question, Amdac! Why, indeed?
I guess we've learned one thing out of all this: The Alexa Toolbar is very popular in India.