In the past few weeks you may have viewed numerous headlines noting that Reddit overtook Facebook as the 3rd most viewed website in the United States. This is true according to the Alexa Traffic Ranks, which often differs in reporting from that of Google Analytics, but it fails to tell the full story of website traffic.

How Alexa Rankings Are Tracked

When looking at Google Analytics, Google has all the data it collects from actual websites as far as we know. On the other hand, Alexa captures information from web surfers with the Alexa toolbar voluntarily installed, representing a significantly smaller part of total web traffic.

The Alexa toolbar only works for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, leaving out a myriad of other browsers. In fact, Alexa has no toolbar functionality for any mobile browser, leaving out all mobile traffic. To put that in perspective, among all Facebook users 68 percent access it on their mobile devices.

Alexa also doesn’t resample for the total population and is often biased to over-indexing websites that Alexa-toolbar installers would normally visit.


Alexa Weighed Against comScore

Even when looking at other sources such as Nielsen or comScore, Facebook’s total reach in major countries amounts to 70-80 percent of online visitors, whereas Reddit is less than 20 percent for reach alone.

Using comScore, a preferred measurement service for online companies that provides marketing data and services, has Facebook ranked at the #4 spot in the United States with 208,916 unique visitors while Reddit sits at #41 with 69,596 unique visitors.

ComScore requires websites to add tags on every page in the site coding and its reports are often close to that of Google Analytics, making it a much more trustworthy source of information compared to Alexa.

This is compared to the Alexa Report where Facebook is averaging 4.07 daily views per visitor and Reddit has 9.71 daily views per visitor.


Facebook Still Outranks Reddit

Based on this information Reddit hasn’t overtaken Facebook in reach and Alexa isn’t a great source of information when website analytics are involved, although it is implementing similar features that Reddit currently offers such as a Downvote Button for comments and the Explore Feature as a way for users to catch up on current events while browsing the platform.