Knowing where to check website traffic is a key skill in starting and running your online business.
I’m not talking here about your own website traffic but instead the traffic of your competitors.
Want to know where to check website traffic for a site that is your own? That’s nice and easy: Google Analytics.
Finding the traffic of other sites is much harder though. Unless you have access to their Google Analytics of course! But that’s unlikely.
Instead we need to use tools to estimate other businesses’ traffic. Thankfully there are a range of different traffic tools we can employ for this purpose.
Why is knowing a competitor’s website traffic useful?
Before we get into the tools though it’s useful to know why exactly you want to gauge their traffic. This will help determine what sort of tool we should use to check their website traffic.
Are we looking at a competitor’s website in order to beat them on Google? If so we’ll want to use SEO specific tools.
We can use traffic information to “steal” their traffic by outcompeting them. Or we can find blindspots that they have left and fill the gap.
Alternatively, are we looking to learn more about a website that we might want to write a guest blog for? If so then we’ll be interested in helping them rather than competing directly. We’d use different tools to dig out this information.
What do you want to know about their website traffic?
Additionally, it’s important to realise that finding the traffic number (ie. the number of people who come to the website) is just the start of the data we can dig up.
Yes, knowing the total amount of traffic is useful. But we can go much deeper.
We can find out where this traffic comes from. Is it from Google? Social media? Other websites? If from other websites then which sites?
What search terms do people use to find the website? Which are their most successful blog articles? What are they spending on advertising to get paid traffic?
All of this information can be gauged. Not simply the amount of traffic. This is obviously extremely important when carrying out competitor (and collaborator) research.
Where to check website traffic
With these considerations out of the way let’s dig into the tools. These are in no particular order because their usage will depend on why you are carrying out traffic research. So think of this as a menu of options.
I’d recommend choosing a competitor’s website and simply plugging their web address into all of these tools to see what comes out. This is the best method of getting a handle on what each traffic research tool can do.
We’ll start nice and simple with Alexa.
Alexa is one of the oldest website traffic data tools and has a rich back history of information.
Confusingly Alexa is now owned by Amazon. But it’s not that Alexa … it’s a web research company that has been around for ages that happens to have the same name as the voice activated Amazon device. Go figure.
Alexa has a basic free website checker at https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ which looks a lot like this:
As with all of these tools your best bet is to head over and plug in a URL. There’s too much data for me to usefully present it all here so definitely worth you following along in the tool.
One unique part of Alexa is the Alexa rank. Basically Alexa “ranks” all the top sites online against one another.
For example here are the top 10:
Don’t recognise most of these? Probably because you’re a 外国人! Most of the sites are Chinese. In fact 7/10.
Alexa ranks all major sites which gives you a useful relative measure of size. Let’s say you are looking at a list of 10 competitors and want to know who is the biggest online? Simply looking at the Alexa Ranks of all 10 and this will give you the order.
You won’t be able to get the actual traffic number (ie. 10,000 visitors per day) from the Alexa Rank but it’s very helpful for relative sizing.
SimilarWeb is a great tool with a bunch of free / open features to play around with.
Plug in a website and you’ll see results like this:
SimilarWeb is braver than Alexa! They go ahead and guess the actual traffic number! Cool huh?
However: take this number with a massive pinch of salt.
Actually, go ahead and take a Uyauni salt plains sized pinch of salt.
The estimated traffic number is basically a wild guess. And educated one sure but generally pretty far off the mark.
The only way to really know the traffic figures is to access the server logs or use Google Analytics. Again – possible with your website but not with competitors.
Like with Alexa though, SimilarWeb is very useful for gauging relative traffic numbers. If they are incorrect guesses at least they are all equally incorrect!
SimilarWeb’s particular usefulness comes in (you guessed it) its ability to find “similar” websites:
This is great when doing competitor research and you want to expand the scope of your research. Whilst hat’s not the specific focus of this article it’s a very handy utility that is well worth using.
A third great free tool is UberSuggest, set up by Neil Patel (who you may have noticed I’ve been using as the example in the screenshots above. If you don’t know his work definitely go and check it out).
We’re particularly interested in the Traffic Analyser.
Again, UberSuggest spits out a traffic figure (here 6.4m organic visitors per month). It also gives a nice graph showing trends over time.
UberSuggest is (compared to Alexa and SimilarWeb) more of a SEO tool and can provide some extremely actionable suggestions for your content marketing.
All of the tools above have free and paid versions.
To get the full data you’ll need a paid account (obviously!). But the three tools above are extremely generous with what they can do for you even before you pay, hence my highlighting them here.
As you progress with your online business you’ll definitely want to look into investing in research like this as it’ll return many times over your initial investment. However, when starting out I understand that many of these tools are out of reach. And that’s fine.
I wanted to quickly give shout outs to two other tools which are very much paid tools (although they have limited free trials that may be worth testing with – but only when you know exactly what research you need!).
These two are heavy hitters in the SEO research and optimisation game. They can give you a MASSIVE amount of website traffic data and competitive research.
In fact I’d go as far as to say that they are probably overkill for you as a business owner. They are primarily for SEO specialists.
This said – you can find individuals/companies who can run a paid report for you. This means you don’t have to personally sign up for an expensive subscription. Instead find someone who already has the expensive subscription and get them to run off a report for you.
Fiverr.com is a good place to start this search. Head to the SEO research section and you should find some gigs that match this. You may also be able to find people who can run paid Alexa and SimilarWeb reports. Go and have a dig around and see what is available if you want to get some more data.
Where to check website traffic : Quick Summary
If you are interested in knowing your own website traffic then Google Analytics is your friend. If it’s not set up on your site yet then it’s time to get that sorted.
If you want to work out your competitor’s traffic then we need to use third party tools.
We looked at Alexa, SimilarWeb and Ubersuggest as good starting points.
If you really need to go deep then considered paid tools. But before committing to expensive subscriptions definitely have a look and see if you can pay a SEO specialist to run off a single report for you.