Why on earth would anyone want to install a piece of spyware onto their Web browser? No sensible right minded person would ?unless you are a webmaster and you want to improve your SERPS ranking that is.
The Alexa toolbar is not "technically" spyware as it doesn't retrieve any private or personal information. It does however log all the sites you visit and as webmasters we can use this to our advantage. It uses this information to compile traffic ranking statistics and a relational list. The relational list is very useful as it shows what other sites people who have looked the current website have also visited. Alexa is owned by Amazon and it is possible to make your own Alexa toolbar with your Amazon affiliate code included. You can then place this on your site and get credited when anyone buys through Amazon using the Amazon button on the toolbar you've distributed, it is also possible to include a link to your site in the toolbar.
Alexa ranks sites from 1 to 5,000,000 and sometimes higher. Ranking 1 has the most traffic and so on, anything below 250,000 and you should be getting some decent traffic levels. This information can be used to determine how well your advertising campaigns are going and how traffic levels are growing over a period of time. This information can also be used to determine how you rivals are doing and keep you one step ahead of them. The Alexa information is also picked up by other search engines so you benefit from an increase in you SERPS as your site progresses up the rankings .
One drawback of the Alexa toolbar is that it only works on Internet Explorer and not the tool of choice for most webmasters Firefox. However I personally feel this is a small price to pay for the benefits I get when using the tool bar for research and to check my sites daily. Checking the stats of your own site has a positive impact on your Alexa ranking as the toolbar is not generally used by the general public so every extra hit from a browser with the tool bar installed is valuable. I have 1 site that is almost exclusively used by webmasters , As webmasters are the people who use Alexa more than any other group 500 page views a day are enough to get this site into the top 500,000 Another site that has 3 times the traffic but the visitors are mostly the general public so this site is languishing in the 2,000,000 's.
Why not try an experiment for a month, Download the toolbar and monitor one of your sites, once you see the data you get and the way it can be used you won't know how you survived without it.
Mark Thompson ran an IT consultancy in London for many years . He now live in Spain and runs an number of websites including The Links Factory.