Benchmarking Beyond SEO: What Competitors’ Website Traffic Can Reveal

Benchmarking Beyond SEO: What Competitors’ Website Traffic Can Reveal

Written by Semrush Semrush 4.5K Reads

Let me start with the most subversive idea for SEO specialists.

It looks like organic search traffic is not everything you need.

Users may land on your (and your competitor’s) website in numerous ways – through direct visits, referring sites, search engines, social networks, and paid ads.

In many industries, organic requests bring less than half of the total traffic volume.

What should you do as a digital marketer?

We suggest that you review the importance of tactical SEO for your niche and benchmark some higher-level performance rates, such as website traffic metrics.

You can certainly survive without this knowledge, but if you want to get better, stronger, faster competitive intelligence, you may need to check these stats. So, let’s jump into it.

1. Highlight Other Traffic Sources to Back Up Your Campaigns

With ever-changing search algorithms, you can never be sure you’ll still be on top tomorrow morning.

Apparently, it’s better to have some supporting acts besides SEO.

  • If your company’s product/service can subsist on recurrent purchases, look closely at what traffic sources bring direct visits to your competitors’ websites. These channels may prove to be useful in nurturing a loyal audience for you, too. At the very least, they can provide your domain with a stable supply of traffic.
  • If you’re an in-house marketer or a business owner, think of strengthening your position on the channel where your rivals are least present. For example, if none of your rivals is actively present on social media, it may be your chance to stand out. Stay sharp, though, as it can equally mean that the channel is not worth investing in. As usual, you will only discover this by testing it.

How can you discover competitors’ website traffic without access to their Google Analytics? There is a tool for that!

SEMrush Traffic Analytics reveals metrics on any company’s domain. All you need to do is enter its URL.

In a click, you will receive your data, including traffic sources, audience overlap, and top pages – in other words, everything that is mentioned in this article.

2. Predict Your Competitors’ Potential

Monitoring the strongest players is essential. Keeping an eye on up-and-coming companies is advisable – if only it didn’t take that much time.

The problem will only get gone when you know what metrics to look at.

Imagine: you’re doing your regular competitor research and notice that one business is receiving more and more traffic each month.

Even if now they are less known in the market, their marketing success can help them take a bigger piece of the pie soon.

So, keep an eye on the competitors whose traffic is growing steadily, especially if it’s happening thanks to sources other than SEO. When they get on their feet, you will already have an idea of how to outperform them.

You can certainly survive without the knowledge of website traffic stats, but if you want to get better, stronger, faster competitive intelligence, you may need to check these metrics.

3. Show the Quality of Website Content and Overall User Experience

Google’s algorithms are taught to satisfy users’ requests, not just to match keywords with relevant websites.

However, they don’t necessarily lead users to the websites they will enjoy the most.

Did visitors actually like the page that they were directed to? User engagement metrics will tell.

So, pay attention to bounce rate, number of pages per visit, and average visit duration to competitors’ websites. Make sure to study even those who haven’t made it to the first lines of SERP yet.

True, it starts to look like a deeper analysis than your normal research, but we assume that competitive intelligence can hardly ever be too much.

4. Hint at Competitors’ Customer Journey and Clients’ Loyalty

How many touchpoints do your clients have contact with before purchase?

Your competitors’ customer journey is not much shorter. The user’s first glimpse of a company is crucial, but more curious things happen once they fall deeper into the website – and the funnel.

So, make sure to check your competitors’ top pages and total number of unique visitors to the domain. This will give you an idea of how users make the first contact with your rivals and how likely they are to turn into recurrent visitors.

During your research, try to outline your competitors’ customer journey:

  • What organic or paid keywords led users to the website in the first place?
  • What stopped them from making a purchase immediately and switched them to consideration mode?
  • How did they find themselves on this website again?

If your focus is SEO and nothing more, studying user scenarios on your competitors’ websites won’t hurt at all.

Your ultimate goal is to attract a long-term customer, not just a one-time visitor, right?

Then, study whatever worked for your competition and refine your company’s website content and structure accordingly.

A broader view can give you one or two ideas for your direct responsibilities and improve your game as a specialist.

5. Reveal Strategies Tailored to Mobile

Optimization for mobile didn’t emerge in the marketing agenda yesterday; however, many related questions are still missing answers.

For example, should strategies and tactics for portable and stationary devices differ?

To find out, learn what ensures a mobile traffic stream to your rival’s domain, if not SEO.

If traffic sources differ for mobile and you are not an expert in the channels used for it, you’ve got two options:

  • To outsource marketing services for these platforms and try to catch up with competitors.
  • To concentrate on getting even higher results from the same channels as you use for desktop.

It’s up to you to decide what will take less effort from you. However, keep in mind that the second option is quite risky, as normally mobile marketing strategies should differ.

6. Double Your Interest in (and from) Backlinks

It’s not the quantity of backlinks that counts – it’s the amount (and quality!) of traffic that comes from these referring sites.

You may treat it as a side effect of link building, while other companies in your sphere can take it as a part of their marketing strategy.

Find out the share of referral traffic to their websites to see if they chose this path to organic search competition.

Have a look at the list of your rival’s referring sites and select the ones that led the strongest flow of traffic.

Consider getting backlinks from those or similar websites too, and also check these domains’ referrals. This way, you will get both authoritative mentions that count for search engines and visible constant flow of traffic.

If you are starting to work in a new niche, this method will also help you estimate the scope of work:

  • Calculate how much traffic each backlink brings on average.
  • Assess how many of them you need in the near future.
  • Decide whether you can make link building the driving force of your marketing strategy or you should engage more sources.

7. Tell You When It’s Time to Expand or Go Local

Regional keywords are mostly used to promote brick-and-mortar businesses in local search.

But what about companies with products/services that are not limited by physical presence and delivery?

SaaS providers, media, online banks, and marketing agencies could successfully lead the competition far away from their headquarters.

Your rivals may have already started it without resorting to regional keywords. Or does the field remain untouched? Find out!

Look at the geo distribution of your rivals’ traffic. If they’re already receiving a good share of visits from foreign users via social networks, referring sites or paid advertising, it may be high time you stepped in with regional keywords.

And if they’re already involved in local SEO, check if it actually generates traffic for them.

These are just a few reasons why there is more to benchmarking than organic search.

Website traffic analytics can reveal even more marketing insights. Continue reading to discover more about what audience overlap and top pages can reveal about your competitors.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor's own.

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