How to Estimate Any Website Traffic with These 3 Tools

Posted November 23rd, 2020 in Analytics. Tagged: , .

While there are several different ways to measure the success of a site: one core metric is its traffic. Knowing how well your site performs compared to other sites is crucial in understanding how successful you have been in your efforts against competitors. This is possible if you know how much traffic your competitors are generating. Along with this, some competitor intelligence tools hand over the full list of keywords that bring traffic to a site. This is something you can use to devise your content marketing strategy.

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If it was 5 or 6 years ago, you’d have needed a fortune teller to find out the traffic of a third-party site. Now, all you need are a few tools like SimilarWeb or Ahrefs—depending on what you’re looking for.

There are dozens of tools with which you can measure traffic. Some are not worth the money. Others? They’re really good.

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb

One of the best tools that gives near-accurate results is SimilarWeb. SimilarWeb is owned by the Israeli company called SimilarGroup. As an intelligence suite they gather traffic and generate competitor intelligence reports for any site.

With SimilarWeb you stand to learn a lot about a site including its total number of visits, pages per visit, people of which countries come to the site most and other things.

You learn the duration per visit and bounce rate on the site. With the tool you have an overview of the site’s traffic and reach. You understand how well it ranks and user engagement metrics.

When you enter the site, you get the total number of visits to a site. You don’t get any data on the number of pageviews though. However, if you multiply total visits by pages per visit you can get an estimate of the same.

The dashboard is deeply visual primarily painted in hues of blue and white. Start from the general overview and scroll down to access, geography, a sampling of referring domains, search traffic, social display traffic and audience. Next you see the list of similar sites and mobile apps.

As someone who wants to analyze competitor sites, here’s what to do. Start by entering domain URL into the search bar and run a search. You also have the option to run a category search by country or industry. In each category the top 50 sites belonging to the category are displayed.

For instance, here’s what I get when I enter MasterBlogging.com to the search bar to try and gauge its traffic:

SimilarWeb - screenshot 1

Here’s the month by month report of traffic for the last 6 months:

SimilarWeb - screenshot 2

You can see the total visits per month, average visitor duration, pages per visit and the bounce rate. The chart reveals that until August 2020, the traffic used to be above 55000 per month.

Here’s the list of top countries sending traffic to the site:

SimilarWeb - screenshot 3

And here’s a division of the traffic channels. From the graph below, it seems evident that major chunks of traffic come from search engines and from direct visits to the domain. It’s neatly divided into 45% each.

SimilarWeb - screenshot 4

According to SimilarWeb, the top 5 keywords sending traffic to the site are:

  • masterblogging
  • grammarly discount
  • masterblog
  • ankit singla
  • contact page blogger

SimilarWeb - screenshot 5

What’s interesting about SimilarWeb is how well the tool transforms numbers and metrics to captivating graphics. It’s easy to scroll through the report and understand more about your competitor at a single glance. The default audience overview shows the site traffic for a period of 6 months.

Based on the traffic the website is assigned a global ranking, a US based ranking and a category ranking. The audience breakdown by countries and traffic sources is another cool metric.

The traffic overview lists the top countries that send traffic to the site. The traffic sources are split into direct, referrals, search traffic among others and the percentage of site traffic for each source is denoted.

Is the data accurate?

SimilarWeb gives a lot of numbers—way more than any other tool. The million-dollar question is—how do they gather all this data. That helps us understand how close to truth the numbers really are. Broadly, these are the sources of intelligence:

  • Connected devices from which SimilarWeb collects data on websites users visit and the time they spend on each site.
  • ISPs data from many countries.
  • Web crawlers scan public sites and continually update the index to generate estimates.
  • Direct measurement sources from sites that open an account with SimilarWeb and add their Google analytics details on the site.

Despite this— compared to the size of the web the data sample is small and doesn’t always present an accurate picture of reality.

Here’s an example to help you understand what I said:

Ahrefs conducted a small study by taking 116 sites from Flippa and running it on SimilarWeb. For those who don’t know, Flippa is a site where people list sites they want to sell.
The sales pages list their traffic and complete set of analytics data. So, the real traffic of those sites is readily available. Next, the Ahrefs team tested all the sites on SimilarWeb to get an idea of the traffic they generate.

They found that SimilarWeb overestimated the number of total unique visitors for 91.67% of the websites. From the test it’s evident that in many cases SimilarWeb can overestimate the traffic numbers.
Another thing I dislike about SimilarWeb is—if the site is new or the traffic too little SimilarWeb fails to generate any data. Also another point to note is if a competitor site has spurts of new traffic SimilarWeb can’t gauge that, just like when Shane Barker did for this site.

SimilarWeb will take months to even begin to sense the traffic change.

How do the free and premium versions compare?

A free version of SimilarWeb gives you limited access to most of the features available at the PRO level. With the free version compare two sites side-by-side. With the PRO version compare up to 5 sites.

The free account limits itself to 5 results per metric, 1 month of mobile app data and 6 months of web traffic data.
As a paid user, this data can be rolled back to 2 years. The traffic estimates combine mobile and desktop traffic but as free users you cannot segment between the two.
As you scroll you get more stats like the desktop traffic for more than 5 countries.
The premium plan on offer from SimilarWeb can be customized as per your needs.

To sum up the features:

  • data divided on the global scale or by geography
  • desktop vs mobile data
  • mobile app engagement metrics
  • list of the most popular pages on a site
  • list of keywords the site ranks for
  • traffic to the site

We saw how SimilarWeb offers a 360-degree view on a site. The next tool is good for checking the organic traffic alone.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs

Ahrefs started as a backlink analysis tool and now is a full competitor intelligence suite. Briefly put, with Ahrefs you can uncover rankings of a site, its backlinks, its top pages, conduct a full site audit and much more. SEMrush too is similar in features and I discuss more on the same on my blog Kamayobloggers.com.

Traffic estimates for domain, page or subdomain

This is Ahrefs’ most interesting feature. Enter any domain, URL or subdomain to Ahrefs and get the organic traffic estimate of that URL.
For instance, if you want to find out the traffic to a blog just enter example.com/blog to get the entire traffic that search engines send to those pages. If you want to generate the estimate of a single page, just paste the URL for which you want to get the traffic estimates and select the prefix option from the drop-down menu.

The live traffic estimate is an average of the keywords and their rankings. It gets adjusted if the website starts ranking for more keywords or loses out on a few keywords.
So, you get the total traffic coming to that particular page. For any domain or specific page, there’s a possibility of tracing the organic traffic on a graph.

Going back to the example cited before I ran Masterblogging on Ahrefs.

Ahrefs - screenshot 1

Going by the keywords the site ranks for and their respective positions Ahrefs estimates the traffic to be around 4900 visitors per month.
I exported all the keywords that Masterblogging ranks for.

Excel - screenshot

The site ranks for 8200 keywords that pull in these 4900 odd visitors. Of these keywords only few keywords feature on the first page and pull in the majority of the traffic. The rest of the keywords are on the second page that bring negligible traffic. The total traffic to the site is 4900 visitors. If we imagine an equal number to be direct traffic the total traffic comes around 9000 visitors. This is nowhere near the numbers SimilarWeb suggests.

The plot shows the organic traffic estimates going back to May 2016 for any site during which the traffic has steadily risen.

The graph is fully interactive and you can access any point on the graph to get traffic estimates.
Is the data accurate? Given that the data comes from more accurate sources and a much bigger database I don’t think I can suspect Ahrefs.

You can also see the traffic that each country generates to Masterblogging. USA sends the most traffic, followed by India.

Ahrefs - screenshot 2

The data comes from their database of 6.1 billion keywords. This database is updated with new keywords every month. It shows search volumes estimates for each month.
More than measuring organic traffic, Ahrefs is an extremely adept tool at finding all the problems with a site with the site audit tool.

Ahrefs Pricing

There’s a 7-day trial access for Ahrefs that you can access by paying $7. The lowest priced paid plan called the Lite plan starts at $99 per month.

  • The Standard plan is $179 per month.
  • The Advanced plan is $399 per month
  • The Agency plan is $999 per month.

Alexa

Alexa

Alexa is a keyword and competitive research analysis tool that generates an estimated number of visitors to a site. The accuracy of the measurement comes from the widget that is installed on the browsers of users.
You can use Alexa without signing up too. Just enter the domain and get a measure of the number of visitors to that domain.
Here’s what the tool shows in detail:

  • Pageviews Per User – This shows the average pageviews per visitor for the last 3 months.
  • Bounce Rate Percentage – This metric shows the bounce rate on the site averaged for the last 3 months.
  • Time on Site – Average time spent on the site per user.
  • Search % – Percentage of visits from search engines for the last 3 months.
  • There’s also a section that shows the top keywords the site ranks for. There aren’t many keywords listed, only few.
  • There’s also basic demographic metrics like audience age, their education and gender as well.

In the overview section Alexa presents us with a keyword gap analysis that shows all the additional keywords the site could rank for. Alexa estimates the search traffic to bring 46% of the total traffic to the site and on the right lists a few competitors of Masterblogging.com.

Alexa - screenshot 1

Scrolling down further we get a list of the top keywords and the Alexa traffic rank of the site.

Alexa - screenshot 2

At the very bottom we get another list of top 5 keywords.

Alexa - screenshot 3

We don’t get direct estimates of traffic. That said blogger sitemap brings in nearly 9% of traffic. It has 140 to 200 searches per month.
Based on the position of masterblogging.com I can estimate not more than 60 visitors. By that count, total traffic might be 600 visitors.

Alexa pricing

You can sign up for a 30-day free trial to access the features.
Here are the details regarding other plans:

  • Basic $19.99/mo
  • Insight $79/mo
  • Advanced $149/mo

Concluding thoughts

All in all, these three are the best tools to estimate the traffic to a site. As you can see if you want a well-rounded view SimilarWeb is your best bet. Even guys like Neil Patel recommend using some of these tools. An investment in these tools is well worth it for you.
However, since SimilarWeb and Alexa are both free to use you can get basic traffic estimates from either of these tools which is what I do. For a more accurate reading on organic traffic, Ahrefs is the best tool to use.


About the Author

George Mathew

George Mathew is a freelance writer and blogger who’s been writing online for the past 9 years. He blogs at Kamayobloggers.com.

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