Alexa Suddenly Relevant?


Every week or so I read another post about how various search companies have draconian API policies, with Google going so far as removing features from the AdWords API to render tools based on their API useless.

Alexa flipped the search world on it's head when they announced access to the Alexa Web Search Platform at a price most anyone can afford.

John Battelle has the scoop:

Anyone can also use Alexa's servers and processing power to mine its index to discover things - perhaps, to outsource the crawl needed to create a vertical search engine, for example. Or maybe to build new kinds of search engines entirely, or …well, whatever creative folks can dream up. And then, anyone can run that new service on Alexa's (er…Amazon's) platform, should they wish.

It's all done via web services. It's all integrated with Amazon's fabled web services platform. And there's no licensing fees. Just "consumption fees" which, at my first glance, seem pretty reasonable. ("Consumption" meaning consuming processor cycles, or storage, or bandwidth).

The fees? One dollar per CPU hour consumed. $1 per gig of storage used. $1 per 50 gigs of data processed. $1 per gig of data uploaded (if you are putting your new service up on their platform).




Battelle is right - this

Battelle is right - this changes the game. The big barrier in this is programming the software to actually use the data - but I suspect it is just a matter of time before programmers start selling off the self scripts to work with this. The niche search industry will grow.

My mind is still reeling with all the possibilities.

Searching for adsense IDs is

Searching for adsense IDs is the first thing that comes to my mind


nice move

by Alexa, great potential for all sorts

Scraper Sites

Taken to a whole new level

I don't get it

My mind is still reeling with all the possibilities.

I guess one has to be a programmer or something cuz I just don't get it.

What exactly is so great about the Alexa data, and what kinds of things could people do with it that is so cool?

what kinds of things could

what kinds of things could people do with it that is so cool

I have not used it yet, but cheap reliable vertical search comes to mind.

not sure how robust their solution is, what all data you can get, or if you can influence crawl frequency, but one good option might be making stuff like specifically for a niche market.

many things done by various websites can be done automatically or near automatically with the help of algorithms.

What exactly is so great

What exactly is so great about the Alexa data, and what kinds of things could people do with it that is so cool?


I run a bunch of niche directories. Finding sites to list and writing a title description and keywords for each listing is a time consuming process. Cleaning out dead lisitngs is time consuming. Dealing with submissions is time consuming. Even my largest directory, and those of my competitors is only a few thousand listings.

Enter Alexa:

But what if I could run a niche search engine that had millions and millions of individual pages in it all on my topic? I could let people search that directly or use it as on-topic backfill for the directory sorta like Yahoo used to do in the old days. What if I could do that for about the cost of a hosting account? Dang, suddenly I would be in a completely different class of search platform altogether and able to offer so much more for the end user.

Or what if I wanted to make a local search portal with pages that only relate to, let's say, Des Moines? Take any subject you can think of: Mac computers, SEO, Star Trek, Astronomy, marketing and you can filter out all related pages to that topic from 4 billion pages. Wow.

See the big problem now is that the search engines will let you play with their general search API on a limited basis, for free and generally for only non-commercial use. The minute you want to use it commercially then you need some hefty money.

One of the biggest cost barriers to starting your own search engine is actively crawling the web, (directories are passive as far as data gathering) so if you can eliminate that cost and make custom reparsing of the data affordable the rest is not insurmountable. I suppose one would have to come up with ones own algo to try to determine relevency in the niche SE's SERPs', but I'm betting it's just a mater of time before some SEO's engineer a few algo's and start selling them off the self, or that some Open Source algo's appear on SourceForge.

The minute you want to use

The minute you want to use it commercially then you need some hefty money.

That, or you need to accept it in the format they want to provide it, with THEIR ADS on it as well.

Danny said he didn't think this Alexa offering was a big deal, but if their results are of a decent relevancy I think it is, mainly because it might help other engines open up their index.

mainly because it might help

mainly because it might help other engines open up their index.

Good point. There is a market niche in there somewhere. I'm not a programmer, and the Alexa offering requires some programming knowledge or the ability to buy additional scripts (if I'm understanding it right.) But what if an outfit like Gigablast or Looksmart/Wisenut offered a turnkey solution with a good algo at an affordable price, so I don't have to hire people to come up with an algo?


I have to respectfully disagree with Danny on this one. He compares this Alexa offering with Gigablast's Custom Topic Search. Now I have created and use about 3 Custom Topic Searches with Gigablast and it is a fantastic free product, but even though GB allows you to co-brand the SERPs - those SERP pages remain on GB's servers. That makes it hard to give away remote search boxes to your users or to allow remote searches from a toolbar and webmasters do not see the referrals as coming from you. (Although GB's 500 URL limit is generous for a free service.)

Services like Rollyo are more limited in the number of URL's they will search and are more concerned about building brand for themselves (although they have merit they are just going out after different markets.

I think..

I keep getting surprised by the crowd scratching their heads on this one.

For a marketing group the competitive intelligence aspect of this could be huge. I am still reading the documentation to see if any of this is possible but...

What if I could look up every instance of an adsense id ?
I can't count the number of times I wished I could search HTML comments. What if I can make this do that ?
What if a certain successful SEO affiliate uses a particular javascript library ? Now I can search for it even easier

For the newer guys in the seo/sem field that are developer's (like myself) this can be huge. It could allow us to track down some of the supposedly successful guys and see if they are telling the truth and how they do it. I can tell you I learn lots from looking at more experienced people's sites and I can trust my observations more rather than just wondering if the DaveN's of the world are telling the truth


Thanks, guys...that helps!

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