Assessing your business’s online performance can’t happen without proper benchmarks – from overall market to competitive insights, you have to understand what others’ performance looks like.
Yet no one will share this kind of info – even if you’re competing against public companies, they don’t tend to reveal their traffic or conversion estimates. Hence, you have to turn to third-party tools that uncover what’s going on within your competitive landscape.
In this post, we will focus on two key tools for competitive analysis – Similarweb, and Semrush – to address the following questions:
- How accurate are site traffic estimators; and
- Which tool – Similarweb or Semrush – does a better job at providing you with competitors’ traffic insights.
Can Third-Party Tools Offer Accurate Site Traffic Estimates?
In the perfect digital world, you’d want access to Google Analytics-like data on your competitors. But this can hardly ever be the case – this kind of info is confidential, and no business, in their sane mind, will simply drop these figures to the general public.
This is where tools like Semrush or Similarweb come in.
Now, to assess the accuracy level, let’s first unwrap how each tool goes about gathering and processing competitive data:
Semrush’s Traffic Analytics tool
Traffic Analytics – a part of Semrush .Trends solution – is the go-to tool for gathering various insights on competitors: from exploring their traffic generation strategies and audience insights to revealing rivals’ traffic count estimates and user behavior stats.
All the data within the tool is based on petabytes of clickstream data gathered from multiple third-party and proprietary sources. This anonymized data accumulates insights on user behavior of over 200 million users and is further run through Semrush’s custom AI and machine learning algorithms.
This platform uses a similar solution when it comes to data gathering. They use third-party data providers, public data sources, and anonymized panel data from various browser extensions located on visited sites. On top of this, Similarweb also throws indirect data from site owners into the mix.
How accurate is their traffic data?
Since we’ve uncovered where both tools take their traffic data from, we can assume that while extrapolation and AI algorithms can do their job, you are unlikely to see 100% data accuracy from either tool.
But this shouldn’t sound discouraging.
The thing about site traffic estimators is that while they won’t provide the ultimate data accuracy, they can perfectly serve as benchmarks. And the key things to keep in mind when analyzing the market and competitors’ traffic data are:
- Don’t look at absolute numbers.
- Consider all the traffic data as relative. This means that you can run your own site through the tool, get a certain number, and then look at competitors and assess their online performance indicators relative to yours.
- Say, if their traffic exceeds yours by 5%, you can then take your real traffic counts (gathered from Google Analytics) and add 5% to get an accurate absolute view.
However, you really don’t need absolute numbers in this case. What you will really get are accurate benchmarks you can compare your performance against.
Semrush vs. Similarweb: Which Tool to Choose?
Now, once we’ve understood how Semrush and Similarweb gather their traffic data, we should move on to stacking one tool up against the other about a few criteria:
- Data accuracy
- Additional features
While we’ve seen tons of studies that compare Semrush’s traffic data against Similarweb, we’d like to refer to one of the most extensive tests around this topic.
OWOX has analyzed data across 750+ sites from 10 industries to see which tool returned the most accurate data (OWOX had access to these sites’ anonymized Google Analytics data to cross-check the results):
- Both tools’ data accuracy is relatively similar, with only a few discrepancies.
- Semrush had superior accuracy levels across sites in the mid-to-high-traffic range (500K+).
- Overall, Similarweb seemed to undervalue traffic counts in a higher number of cases compared to Semrush.
Another study by Mobidea only proves these findings:
The lower the error number, the higher the accuracy of either tool. In this case, Semrush also showed superior results for sites within the smaller traffic range except for sites with 50K-150K monthly visitors. In the lowest traffic category, Similarweb didn’t even show any data.
Additional features & Pricing
We didn’t want to separate pricing from features, as in Semrush’s case, all the extra perks are included within the Semrush .Trends solution, while in Similarweb’s case, most of the features are priced separately:
- Mobile data: available within both tools; however, Similarweb will charge extra for access.
- Historical data: Semrush gives access to historical data starting from April 2016. Similarweb can go back to 37 months, yet their basic plan will only give you access to a 12-month-period.
- Geo: Semrush covers data across 190 countries and regions without the need to pay extra within any subscription. Similarweb includes data for 90 countries; however, each market is priced separately.
- Traffic channels: Both tools uncover where your rivals’ traffic comes from. While they both cover direct, search, paid, social, and referral traffic sources, Similarweb also includes display and mail.
- Most visited pages: Semrush’s Traffic Analytics tool reveals which competitors’ pages are attracting the biggest traffic shares – this should help you understand your rivals’ top products and services. Similarweb does so too.
- Extra perks: Semrush .Trends solution comes on top of a general Semrush subscription. This means that you will get access to 50+ tools that help you with everything digital marketing: advanced SEO coverage, PPC management, content marketing, social media, digital PR, and, of course, market and competitive insights. Regarding data quality, Semrush holds the largest keyword database and top-notch backlink database and uses its own algorithm to run Google SERP analysis.
Similarweb has some of Semrush’s capabilities, but they are all priced separately, so you wouldn’t really turn to Similarweb for keyword analytics – they don’t specialize in that. It’s not included in the price.
- Pricing: Now, pricing is the biggest differentiating point between the two solutions. Semrush is very transparent about its costs – you have to have an existing Semrush subscription to purchase Semrush .Trends. So, the basic Semrush plan that includes full access to its market and competitive insights platform will come at $319.
With Similarweb, however, we can’t tell you anything. You’ll have to land on this page to contact a sales rep to get a pricing benchmark.
Final Thoughts: Are Site Traffic Estimators Really Worth It?
Once you reach a certain level of savviness around the digital realm, we can’t see how you can go about your digital marketing strategy without getting access to competitive insights.
The entire online marketing strategy can only be formulated, assessed, or revisited based on the rivals’ performance indicators. So, while access to site traffic estimators will, of course, cost you an extra buck, you should really think whether you want to go about your digital marketing strategy blindfolded, or you want to understand whether a 5% YoY traffic growth is a good or a bad thing.
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