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Comparing Your Competitors' Website Traffic Stats

Published July 12, 2018
In digital reporting, context is critical. Our marketing efforts don’t exist in a vacuum and in addition to broader consumer and economic trends, companies face fierce competition for share of voice and online sales.
 
In an increasingly competitive environment, benchmarking becomes important for any organization to properly evaluate their performance. In growing markets, it’s possible to see a rise in traffic and sales and be losing market share. In shrinking markets, you can see decreased sales while growing overall market share.
 
One of the best ways to determine which way is truly “up” is to benchmark some of your competition to provide you with the context you need to best interpret your own digital marketing results. While there is no universal source of competitor intelligence, there are a few different options at our disposal. In this post, we’ll cover the inexact science of how to compare your competitors’ website traffic stats, using Alexa, Similarweb, SEMRush and benchmarking in Google Analytics.

Alexa

Alexa is a website and 3rd party data provider currently owned by Amazon. While much of their intelligence requires a paid account, there is still a wealth of information that can be accessed for free. The site specializes in web traffic analytics, and other types of digital performance data, providing insights on over 30 million different websites.

To use the site, you enter in a competitor website in the search bar at the top of this page: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/.

Alexa will return a basic free report for the website, starting with the site’s Alexa Rank, which measures the popularity of websites based on the number of monthly users and the number of pageviews those users drive. Alexa will break down traffic estimates by channels and will provide some data on the top keywords driving traffic to the website.

 

Alexa Traffic and Demographics

 

Other demographic information such as geography, gender, education level and location are also provided. If organizations still aren’t entirely sure of who their online competition even is, there are also Audience Overlap and Similar Sites features offered as well. To access those, you just enter your own website, and Alexa will provide reasonable competitor estimates.

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is another 3rd party data provider that specializes in digital marketing intelligence. It sources information from millions of mobile and desktop devices, in addition to data derived from partnerships and publicly available sources. This site also requires a paid subscription to access all of its information, but like Alexa, it offers some free data as well.

To use the site, you enter in the name of your website or a competitor’s into the search bar at the top of this page:https://www.similarweb.com/.

SimilarWeb will return a report that starts with a similar global and regional rank score, followed immediately by traffic estimates and site engagement figures. Traffic estimates are further broken down by channels, including search engines and referring domains. The very end of the report also provides a list of estimated top competitors and some audience overlap data, similar to the competitor reports available from Alexa.

 

SimilarWeb Traffic Estimates

 

SEMRush

SEMRush is a 3rd party data provider that specializes primarily in search engine traffic data, both organic and paid. It also provides information on digital display advertising and product listing ads (PLA). Like the previous two sites, it offers a blend of free and paid information that users can access. Also like the previous two sites, to begin using the site, you enter in the name of your domain or a competitor’s into the main search bar on this page: https://www.semrush.com/.

SEMRush will generate a free report that shows the estimated organic and paid search traffic to the website, along with historical trends for that data. Other useful information includes top referring (linking) domains, top keywords driving search engine traffic, and top landing pages for organic search.

 

SEMRush Competitor Analysis

 

SEMRush also offers a range of competitor intelligence, including top competitor lists, competitive positioning maps, and keyword and backlink overlap reporting. If users wish to compare multiple competitors’ websites against their own, there is a neat Domain vs Domain feature that can be found here: https://www.semrush.com/info/domain_vs_domain/

Google Analytics Benchmarking

A very interesting feature of Google Analytics that not many people know about is Benchmarking. First introduced in 2014, this feature allows website stakeholders to compare their own performance to competitive benchmarks. The benchmarks can be sourced by industry/vertical, by region, and by website size by total sessions. These selections can also be combined to provide a very tailored type of benchmarking. The industry vertical data will likely provide the most interesting insights for analysts.

To utilize the feature, use the left hand navigation bar and first click on Audience. Then, secondary reports open up, which include Benchmarking near the very bottom of the list. There are 4 main Benchmarking options, the first of which is by Channel. This will allow organizations to compare channel by channel traffic breakdowns to benchmarks sourced from other similar websites based on Google’s Analytics data. The Channel benchmarking is set first by Industry/Vertical, and users have the ability to refine the country/region and website size of the competitors you are benchmarking against.

 

Google Analytics Benchmarking

 

Using The Data

We recommend focusing on 3 to 5 of the most consistent competitors that you can identify from these websites along with your own knowledge of the competitive landscape. In some cases it makes sense to evaluate your positioning among your digital competitors as well as those that are in your geographical market to understand where you stand in both contexts.

Then, we recommend running each of the websites mentioned to get a better sense of estimated total monthly traffic, as well as any channel specific breakdowns. Compare the range of figures you find by evaluating specific competitors to what’s shown in Google Analytics’ Benchmarking options to identify realistic and useful performance benchmarks. It’s not realistic or recommended to treat these figures as definitive gospel, but rather to use them as a gauge. This data is a ballpark estimation of where different competitors are in terms of traffic volume and sources.

Moving forward, periodically compare your own website growth and performance against these benchmarks to better understand how your website is doing in an ever-shifting competitive environment. These benchmarks will help organizations compare their website traffic growth, or declines, to sound benchmarks while also considering the share of voice and share of market. These are both factors that also help you monitor your performance and can inform your reporting and overall strategies.

Conclusion

While we know that website traffic isn’t the be all and end all of digital performance, understanding how much traffic your competitors are getting and which sources that traffic is coming from can help you get a solid sense of how your own numbers measure up. It’s not worth obsessing over marginal gaps, remember these numbers are a gauge, but if someone is pulling away or there’s a new player gaining speed in the space, that is worth noting and investigating further.

Click over to these websites and start conducting competitive intelligence today. Find a cool feature or have a question? Drop us a line in the comments!

ALSO IN THIS BLOG

When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:

 

 

It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.

 

Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.