SEO Process

How to Conduct an In-Depth Competitor Website Traffic Analysis

Nick Eubanks
Last Updated: May. 12, 2024
Competitor Website Traffic Analysis

As seasoned SEO professionals, analyzing our competitors’ website traffic isn’t about spying on our rivals. 

It’s a systematic way to gather insights that can redefine our SEO strategies to help us get more visibility. 

Having spent years in the SEO trenches, I see competitor website traffic analysis as an essential part of a strategic chess game with Google’s evolving algorithms.

It might sound similar to an SEO competitor analysis, but it’s not.

I’ll show you in the guide below how to analyze website traffic from your competitors, understand what that data means, and turn it into actionable intelligence with the help of Semrush.

What Is Competitor Traffic Analysis?

Competitor traffic analysis helps you discover the sources of your competition’s website traffic and how many visitors regularly land on their sites. You’ll be able to see if their sites’ traffic has grown or declined over time, and then you can determine possible causes for those fluctuations.

This is an essential part of SEO that involves taking a look at the performance of your competitors’ websites. After reviewing what’s working and not working for your competitors, you can make better decisions about your own strategies.

With Semrush’s Traffic Analytics tool, you can answer questions like:

  • Where are users coming from?
  • What do they search for the most?
  • Which types of content drive traffic?

Tracking your competitors’ website traffic reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the sites you’re up against in the SERPs so you can make smart moves to outperform them.

The Value of Competitor Website Traffic Insights

Tracking competitor website traffic can reveal things like:

  • Hints about your competitor’s conversion rate, from statistics like their bounce rate and session durations
  • Traffic generation channels (including backlinks, social media, and paid ads)
  • Whether desktop or mobile sites are attracting more views
  • The demographics and locations of their users
  • How much traffic your competitors are getting
  • Whether their audiences are growing

All this data can help you benchmark your performance against your competitors (we’ll talk more about this in a moment) and identify areas for improving your SEO strategies.

Semrush Check Website Traffic Metrics

Use Semrush for Traffic Analysis

Let’s take a deep dive into how you can use Semrush to analyze your competitors’ traffic. I’ll explain how to gather actionable data and use it to boost your rankings.

For additional options, you can check out some other website traffic analysis tools.

Identify Your Competition

Choosing the right competitors to analyze is crucial. I learned this the hard way when I first started because I mistakenly compared my site to giants instead of direct competitors.

To find the right sites, run an Organic Research Competitors report in Semrush to see all websites that frequently compete with your site in the SERPs.

Enter your domain name in the search bar, then click the Competitors tab. You’ll see a list of all the sites that typically compete for the same keywords as your domain.

Semrush Organic Research Competitors

If you’re working on a new website and aren’t ranking for any keywords, you can use Position Tracking’s Competitors Discovery report to find top competitors based on your keyword list.

Conduct Competitor Website Traffic Analysis and Set Benchmarks

Once you’ve gathered a list of competitors to analyze, use Semrush’s Traffic Analytics to research their traffic and compare it to yours.

Then you can use benchmarking to set goals to improve your website’s visibility and online reach.

Benchmarking is looking at how your business is doing compared to others and then making changes to improve.

Here are the steps you can use to benchmark as part of your competitor website analysis:

  • Measure their performance by these metrics, compared to your site
  • Set goals according to the numbers your competitors are hitting
  • Identify SEO KPIs to track

For example, once you’re inside the Traffic Analysis tool, you can benchmark your site against your competitors in:

  • Mix of traffic channels (referral, direct, paid search, organic search, organic social, paid social, display ads, and email)
  • Audience behavior (bounce rate, time on page, pages per session, etc.)
  • Total traffic metrics
Semrush Traffic Analysis Tool

Scroll down in the report to see the breakdown of monthly traffic estimations from each main traffic source. You want to look for their top performing pages to get a sense of their biggest sources of organic traffic.

Semrush traffic estimations

Based on the benchmarking analysis, set realistic goals for improving your site. This may involve optimizing your website’s content, improving technical SEO, improving the user experience, or other tactics that can help close the gap between you and your competitors.

Consumer journey reports also enable you to see where the audience originates, and where they go after visiting your competitor’s site. You can also view the top visited pages, geographic distribution, top subfolders, and more.

Traffic Journey

Use the Competitor Website Traffic Analysis to Gain a Competitive Edge

Leverage the data you gather from the analysis of your competitor’s website to open up avenues for strategic thinking and targeted action. Analyzing this data prompts critical questions that can shape your approach to content and refine your SEO strategies.

If many users visit a specific website after leaving your competitor’s site, it’s worth exploring why. Is there a partnership, private blog network, or referral link in play? 

What are your competitor’s traffic generation channels? Understanding these patterns in your competitor analysis can inform your own partnership strategies or content creation.

If your website is really lagging behind your competitors and your traffic is way below average, it’s crucial to consider search intent and user experience. 

  • Is your content the right match for your visitors? 
  • Are your visitors engaging with your content? 
  • Do they run into roadblocks as they navigate your site?

If your competitor excels in a particular area, consider adopting similar strategies to improve your own SEO tactics. Then track how your changes affect your traffic and user engagement over time.

Limitations of Competitor Website Traffic Analytics

I’ve learned to treat analytics as a guide, not a must-do list. Tracking your competitor’s website traffic offers valuable insights, but also comes with certain limitations:

  • Data accuracy: Not all tools provide precise data. Differences in data collection methods can lead to variations in traffic estimates. As SEO professionals, we should treat these analytics as approximations rather than exact figures.
  • Lack of context: Traffic data often lacks context. High traffic doesn’t always equate to high engagement or conversion. You may need to dig deeper to understand user behavior and interaction quality on competitors’ sites.
  • Blind spots in strategies: The data you gather during website traffic analysis may not reveal the full strategy behind a competitor’s success. They show what is happening, but not why or how.
  • Over-reliance on competitor data: Focusing too much on competitors can lead to mimicry, not innovation. Balance competitor analysis with original strategies tailored to your site’s unique value proposition.
  • Potential for misinterpretation: Misinterpreting data can lead to flawed SEO strategies. It’s essential to combine analytics with sound SEO best practices and an understanding of your market.

To make well-informed decisions, complement your competitor website traffic analysis with qualitative research, market trend analysis, and a solid grasp of SEO best practices.

How to Leverage Your Own Website Traffic

While it’s great to find out what your competitors are up to online (and whether or not they’re keeping their customers happy), tracking your own website traffic is also a critical part of fine-tuning your SEO strategies.

Here’s how you can make the most of your own traffic analysis data:

  • Understand audience demographics: What geographic areas are your users coming from? Are they male or female? How old are they? All this information can help you shape your strategy and SEO copywriting.
  • Identify popular content: Look at which pages get the most traffic. This shows what your audience prefers, so you can create more relevant content that boosts engagement and conversions.
  • Understand traffic sources: Analyze whether your visitors come from search engines, social media, or direct links. This helps you figure out where to focus your marketing efforts.
  • Track user behavior: See how long visitors stay on your pages, and understand your bounce rate. Improving pages with low engagement or high bounce rates can also boost your rankings and bring in traffic that sticks around.
  • Track keyword performance: See which keywords are bringing in traffic. Concentrate on these in organic and paid campaigns.
  • Stay updated on trends: Regularly reviewing traffic trends lets you adapt to changing user preferences and search engine updates so you can keep your content and SEO tactics up to date.

Your Secret Weapon for Better Rankings

Competitor website traffic analysis can reveal hidden opportunities and help you shape your SEO strategies. The data is great, especially for the number crunchers among us, but it’s the insights you glean from this type of analysis that make it truly worthwhile.

With Semrush, you get a detailed look at all your competitors’ visitor patterns … which you can use to gain considerable advantages in search engines. 

Get started with Semrush’s Traffic Analytics Tool today!