Unless you’ve chosen a niche with extremely low competition (and if you have, are you sure there’s actually a market there?)…
You probably have at least one or two competitors — especially when it comes to SEO.
Organic search traffic can be a great source of leads and sales, but how much traffic is your competition actually getting from Google?
That kind of information is worth having, but getting it isn’t always straightforward.
Alexa is usually the go-to for traffic stats, at least for many people.
But the thing is, they’re actually not nearly as accurate as people think they are.
If you’re using SEMRush or Ahrefs for your SEO, you’ve already got a great tool for gauging your competition’s traffic. Both platforms offer this functionality, along with everything else they do.
You can actually find out exactly how much traffic your competition is getting, specifically from organic search, using either SEMRush or Ahrefs.
Both software platforms are widely used by digital marketers, and both can provide a relatively accurate estimate of any website’s organic traffic stats.
Organic Traffic Estimation Tools
Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Ahrefs can show estimated organic traffic stats for (almost) any website.
We show global organic traffic by default (i.e. under the “overview”) but you can also see traffic segmented by country under the “organic search” tab.
[image source: Ahrefs]
These numbers are calculated by looking at the keywords for which a site ranks. We take into account the monthly search volumes and ranking position for each keyword.
It’s also worth noting that this is a “live” number—it’s calculated for the last month, so numbers may vary slightly from day to day. This number includes both desktop and mobile traffic.
In terms of where our data comes from, we essentially reverse engineer Google rankings.
We use our own keyword database, containing approx. 402M keywords (114M of which are keywords searched from within the US), to calculate global search traffic estimates. This database is updated monthly, including the search volume estimates (check out a few fun search stats from March here)
SEMRush reports global search traffic within their “traffic analysis” tool.
[image source: Ahrefs]
You can also segment by region (i.e. country).
It should be noted that, unlike Ahrefs, the numbers shown by SEMRush are historical by default.
This means that rather than showing a “live” estimate (i.e. for the past month), SEMRush will show figures for the most recent full month; this is usually the previous month’s stats.
SEMRush, like Ahrefs, reverse engineer Google rankings to create their own database of keywords. Again, I failed to find find any information about the size of this database (i.e. the number of keywords they monitor) on their website.
Let’s compare the data to see how these 2 tools stack up [experiment]
It’s time for another quick experiment. Here’s what we did:
- We took a sample of 112 websites from Flippa (all of which showed verified global organic search traffic numbers);
- We pulled organic traffic numbers from both Ahrefs and SEMRush for all 112 websites;
- We compared them.
Here are the results:
[image source: Ahrefs]SIDENOTE.
Here’s the full spreadsheet with the full data set.
We ran both Spearman and Pearson correlations for the data—along with a linear proximity test—and found the following to be true:
- Both Ahrefs and SEMRush were pretty much equally consistent in their traffic estimations;
- Ahrefs underestimated traffic by 60% (on average), whereas SEMRush underestimated traffic by more than 87%.
So as you can see, SEO software — which is worth the investment if organic search is an important part of your marketing strategy — can also help you sneak a peek at your competition’s traffic.
You can read more about finding ways to gauge your competitors’ traffic over at the Ahrefs blog.