A leading provider of global web traffic statistics temporarily removed two popular Chinese websites from its rankings, and then erased their public records following allegations of cheating, Chinese news sources say.
Chinese-language news site Sina.com reported yesterday that Alexa's ranking of BlogChina and HomeWay had plunged from approximately 35th place among all Chinese-language sites to below the 300,000th position.
All historical statistics for the two sites were subsequently removed by Alexa, although it appears that the company has resumed counting visitors to the two sites.
Later reports on Sina.com have linked this to alleged illicit attempts to boost site rankings, noting that BlogChina's Alexa rankings had been reset once before, in January 2005.
US-based Alexa's internet traffic data counts visits to popular websites by users of the company's browser toolbar software, which is a popular download for Internet Explorer users.
In the absence of formally audited figures - a common state of affairs in developing markets like China - Alexa's statistics are often used by advertisers, investors and the media as a rough guide to the relative popularity of larger websites.
Alexa has made no public statement on the matter and did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
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