There are many different ways to analyze a website’s traffic. We’ll look at each one in this step-by-step guide.

We all know it’s easy to see how much traffic your own website gets with Google Analytics:

Google Analytics screenshot showing how much traffic a website gets each month

But, what about your competition?

You won’t have access to their Google Analytics account. So how do you know how much traffic they get? And, more importantly, where they get it from?

  • Which channels drive the most web traffic?
  • Which subdomains or subfolders get the most visits?
  • Which pages/posts pull in the most organic traffic?
  • Which individual keywords generate the most organic search traffic?
  • How does this traffic engage with a website?

There are many layers to the “traffic onion”. And the deeper you go, the more valuable the insights become.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to check the traffic data of any website.

And then, we’ll go deeper, layer by layer, as we peel back the onion to find out exactly which geographies, channels, directories, pages, and individual keywords – organic and paid – are driving the most valuable traffic to the website.

We’ll even look at device break down – mobile vs desktop – and get a look at how this traffic interacts with a website’s content by checking estimated bounce rates, average visit duration and other engagement metrics.

You’ll have an all-access backstage pass to your competitor’s traffic strategy, and emerge with a proven traffic road map for your own business and/or clients.

Editor’s note: You’ll need the following tools to perform this website traffic analysis:

    1. SEMrush + Traffic Analytics (free 14-day trial) for traffic and engagement insights across all channels.
  • Free traffic analysis template (below).
Website Traffic Analysis TemplateWebsite Traffic Analysis Template

Ready to go? Sweet. Let’s get started!

Disclaimer: This article does contain affiliate links. If you purchase a tool through one of my links I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for the support.

How to Check ANY Website’s Traffic
(Top-Down Analysis)

How much traffic does a website get?

To answer this question, we’re taking a top-down approach.

And by that, I mean we’ll start with a top-level look at the estimated total traffic of a website.

And then we’ll peel back one layer at a time to reveal each piece of data in more detail.

Here is a quick overview:

  1. All website traffic – We’ll start by looking at the total amount of traffic a website gets each month, check estimated engagement metrics, and break down the numbers by device type.
  2. By channel – Next layer down, we’re looking at how much traffic is coming from different sources. For example, we can check traffic numbers and trends across different channels like organic, paid, social, email and referral. Then, drill down into each channel to see the exact strategies competitors are using to drive that traffic.
  3. By subdomain/ directory – Next layer down is really handy for larger websites, especially ecommerce sites, where you can see which product categories drive the most organic traffic.
  4. By page/post – The fourth layer looks at the individual posts/pages that drive the most traffic to a site so we can start to prioritize the content strategy. For example, does the website focus on blog content, review pages or product pages to attract visitors.
  5. By keyword – Finally, for organic and paid channels, you can drill down and find out which keywords (and modifiers) drive the most traffic across different stages of the funnel – top, middle and bottom.

Note: we’ll look closer at the intent break down later in the post.

The key thing to remember is that you can analyze traffic stats at varying levels of granularity, especially for organic and paid search channels.

IMPORTANTYour site monetization model will dictate how you analyze website traffic. 

For instance, analyzing category subfolders is way more valuable to an ecommerce store than an affiliate site looking for mid-funnel keyword modifiers.

For example:

  • If you monetize mainly through Adsense/ ad revenue, then you’d want to look at all the top traffic pages because your primary goal is to drive ad impressions. 
  • If you run an Ecommerce store, then you’d want to drill down into the product category subfolders to see how competitors are driving website traffic with a high level of commercial intent. 
  • If you run an affiliate site, then you’d want to dissect traffic by keyword modifiers like “best”, “alternative”, “top”, “vs” etc.
  • If you work in an emerging niche with little search volume, then maybe you’d want to analyze the top referral traffic sources of competitors; i.e. where they’re getting coverage from press releases and guest posts.

We’ll dive deeper into this traffic analysis below.

Step #1: Check Global Traffic (and Engagement) Data to Quickly Pinpoint New Opportunities

We’ll be using the SEMrush Traffic Analytics Report, as well as the SEO and Advertising Toolkits for the majority of this analysis. Grab a free 14-day trial of SEMrush Pro + Traffic Analytics here ($299 value).

The SEMrush Traffic Analytics Report is a competitive research tool that provides estimated desktop and mobile traffic reports on any website.

SEMrush Traffic Analytics reportSEMrush Traffic Analytics report

It’s important to remember that these reports are estimates because SEMrush does not have access to every website’s internal analytics.

Instead, the reports are based on “petabytes of clickstream data that comes from multiple proprietary and 3rd party data sources, SEMrush’s proprietary AI and machine learning algorithms, and Big Data technologies.”

In other words, data is collected and approximated from real internet user behaviors. The next best thing after having direct access to your competitor’s Google Analytic account.

Let’s take a look at the report and see what metrics we can unearth for our working example, Shopify.

In SEMrush, click on Traffic Analytics from the side menu and enter the domain – e.g. “” – you want to analyze:

Entering domain into SEMrush Traffic Analytics reportEntering domain into SEMrush Traffic Analytics report


The Traffic Analytics Overview report gives you an estimate of the queried website’s traffic and engagement.

You can apply filters – historical data, location, and device – to modify the results. And next to the filters is a set of blue bars noting the Estimated Accuracy of the report, which is based on the size of the domain and filters.

Shopify has 3 bars, which means the data has a higher level of accuracy:

Showing traffic accuracy in SEMrushShowing traffic accuracy in SEMrush

Shopify had an estimated 33.9M visits in June 2019, which, as you’ll see below in the historical trends, is a slight dip compared to previous months (possible a result of the June core algorithm update).

Action item:

Go to the SEO Toolkit >> Traffic Analytics >> Traffic Overview report to find the Total Monthly Visits count for each competitor and enter them into the Global Traffic Overview section of the template:

Entering global traffic in the templateEntering global traffic in the template

Use the Total Visits metric as a guiding stick. i.e. focus your traffic analysis on competitors that are driving the most traffic each month, as they will likely reveal the clearest opportunities to increase website traffic.


Next to Visits, are estimated metrics for engagement.

  • Visits – an estimate of total visits to the website over the chosen month.
  • Unique Visitors – an estimate of total unique visits to the website over the chosen month. (note: a visitor can have multiple visits)
  • Pages/Visit – an estimate of how many pages (on average) a person visits in one session on the website.
  • Avg. Visit Duration – an average estimate of the amount of time spent on the site during each visit.
  • Bounce Rate – an estimate of the website’s average bounce rate, or percentage of visitors that leave the website after viewing just one page.

Think of it as the closest thing to getting a behind-the-scenes look at each of your competitor’s Google Analytics Audience Overview reports!

Historical Trends

Under the engagement metrics is a historical trend graph. You can select the time frame – 6 months, 12 months, or All-time. And you can also switch to see the domain’s trend of Total Visits, Unique Visitors, Average Visit Duration, or Bounce Rate:

Viewing historical engagement metrics in the SEMrush Traffic Analytics reportViewing historical engagement metrics in the SEMrush Traffic Analytics report

The trend lines are for All Devices (blue), Desktop (green), and Mobile (orange).

In our example, you can see visits (all sources) to Shopify were increasing steadily up until March 2019, then plateaued for a couple months, before taking a drop at the beginning of June. Note: this could be the result of getting hit by the June Google core algorithm update. We’ll dive into this more later.

Action item:

Go to the SEO Toolkit >> Traffic Analytics >> Traffic Overview report and enter several of your direct competitors:

Filtering metrics by Device Type in Traffic AnalyticsFiltering metrics by Device Type in Traffic Analytics

Enter the engagement metrics – Pages/Visit, Av. Visit Duration and Bounce Rate – for each competitor. Also, flag whether the traffic is increasing, decreasing or plateauing across each device type:

Entering engagement metrics and traffic trends in the templateEntering engagement metrics and traffic trends in the template

If a competitor’s traffic is consistently increasing over time, dig in and find the source(s) of that growth, and replicate it.

Traffic Sources

The Traffic Sources report estimates how much traffic a website gets from each channel:

  • Direct – traffic via URLs entered in a browser’s search bar, saved bookmarks or links from outside a browser (such as PDFs or Microsoft Word documents).
  • Referral – traffic from a hyperlink on another domain (other than a Social Media domain).
  • Search – traffic directly from a search engine such as Google, Bing, etc.
  • Social – traffic from links on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.
  • Paid ads – traffic from paid advertisements on Google Ads. ( Includes PPC ads in search results and product listing ads e.g. Google Shopping, in SERPs.)
Estimated website traffic by channel in SEMrushEstimated website traffic by channel in SEMrush

In our example, you can see that over the last 12 months Shopify acquired the most traffic from referrals.

In the next report, you can filter the traffic source data by All Sources, Referring Sites, Search Engines, or Social Networks:

Viewing the Top Referring sites in SEMrushViewing the Top Referring sites in SEMrush

And on the right, you can see the Traffic CountTraffic Share and Change percentages.

In our example, the top referring site is, (with 43.81% of the traffic), which kind of skews the data, as this domain is used when setting up each store’s domain settings.

But, if we look at the actual estimated traffic from referrals of non-Shopify sites – rather the Traffic Share % – you can see it’s a significant number.

For example: Fashionnova drives over 126,000 referral visits to Shopify each month.

From here, you can quickly identify the referral sources that could drive the most referral traffic to your website. And this is where you’d want to focus your link building/ PR and/or guest posting efforts.

If you select the Search Engines tab, you’ll see which search engine drives most traffic:

Looking at which search engines drive the most trafficLooking at which search engines drive the most traffic

In our example, Google (organic) drives 85.88% traffic to Shopify, followed by Google (paid) with 6.31%.

Note: Again, while the paid percentage appears small, it’s worth noting that Shopify is investing a lot in Paid Ads, and is now driving over 372,000 paid search visits a month!

As we’ll see later in the Paid Traffic section, Shopify has been gradually increasing investment in this channel over time.

Action item:

Go to the Traffic Sources tab and enter the top 3 traffic channels for each website into the Global Overview section of the template:

Entering top traffic sources into the templateEntering top traffic sources into the template

Next – scroll down to the Traffic Sources Details report and click the Referring Sites tab. Enter the total referral visits, trend and top 3 traffic referrers into the Referral Traffic Overview section of the template:

Entering the Referral Traffic stats into the templateEntering the Referral Traffic stats into the template

Geo Distribution

The Geographic Distribution report shows you the countries and regions that drive the most traffic to a website.

The report includes a map illustration followed by a table showing the Total Traffic and Traffic Share % from each country:

Global traffic distribution report in SEMrushGlobal traffic distribution report in SEMrush

Plus the Pages/Visit, Average Visit Duration, and Bounce Rate so you can identify which countries interact the most with the website:

In our example, Shopify acquired most of its traffic from the USA (42.54%) in June 2019. But it’s also getting significant traffic from other international locations. So, from a strategy standpoint, its important to find out how they are targeting those countries?

One possibility might be they are using multiple languages for each country. And a quick check of the source code for references to the “hreflang” tag will help shed light:

Example of hreflang attributes being used on ShopifyExample of hreflang attributes being used on Shopify

Action item:

Go to the Traffic Analytics report and select the Geo Distribution tab. Scroll down to the Traffic by Countries report:

Geographic traffic distribution report in SEMrushGeographic traffic distribution report in SEMrush

Enter the countries driving the most traffic to each of your competitors:

Entering top traffic countries into the analysis templateEntering top traffic countries into the analysis template

This report will help you pinpoint any gaps in your international SEO strategy.


The Traffic Analytics report also highlights the difference between desktop and mobile traffic. You can see Shopify has nearly twice as much traffic coming from Desktop devices:

Traffic by Device TypeTraffic by Device Type


The Subdomains report shows you which subdomains on the website acquire the most traffic:

Subdomains report in Traffic AnalyticsSubdomains report in Traffic Analytics

In our example, you can see the Shopify “App” and “CDN” subdomains get the most traffic.

For other websites, this report can help you identify if a competitor is using a blog subdomain to drive top-funnel traffic, or housing products on a separate shop subdomain.

For example:

If I wanted to see how HubSpot was driving website traffic, specifically at the top of the funnel, I’d start by analyzing only their blog subdomain:

HubSpot blog subdomainHubSpot blog subdomain

Similarly, if I was selling beard products online and wanted to see how a website such as Beardaholic was driving traffic with commercial intent, I’d start by analyzing their shop subdomain.

Beardaholic subdomainBeardaholic subdomain

SEMrush’ SEO Toolkit makes this granular traffic analysis a breeze (more on this in the next section):

Subdomain traffic analysisSubdomain traffic analysis

Segmenting by subdomain or subfolder can help you better prioritize the traffic analysis process.

Competitor Comparisons

As you’ve seen, the Traffic Analytics Overview report allows you to compare competitor data side-by-side across all the categories mentioned above.

The comparisons will allow you to fill out the traffic analysis template much faster.

Simply enter the domain names into the search boxes at the top of the report and click ‘Compare’:

Competitor comparisons in SEMrushCompetitor comparisons in SEMrush

For example, I’ve added BigCommerce and BigCartel as competitors of Shopify.

Now you get a series of reports comparing each website’s estimated traffic (and level of confidence):

While Shopify gets the most traffic, it took the biggest month-over-month hit in June. BigCartel saw the biggest drop in Average Visit Duration. All sites had a rough June. From here, you’d want to drill into the specific channels that took the hit, and uncover why.

12 month traffic trend in SEMrush12 month traffic trend in SEMrush

From July 2018 to March 2019, Shopify grew its traffic from ~24M to ~38M visits a month. Over the same time period, BigCommerce and BigCartel were basically flatlining.

If I was a competitor, I’d drill into the channels report to find out where the majority of the traffic growth came from, and then dig deeper into those channels to find out which strategies were driving the growth, and replicate them as fast as possible.

Audience Overlap

Audience Overlap report in SEMrushAudience Overlap report in SEMrush

This report shows you the percentage of users who visited a specific domain and its competitors. According to SEMrush, there is a higher audience overlap between Shopify and BigCommerce.

Armed with this knowledge, one thing I might decide to do is set up a social PPC campaign and target all the people interested in the competitors with a higher Audience Overlap percentage.

Action item:

Enter the Audience Overlap percentages for each of your competitors:

Audience Overlap report in SEMrush Traffic AnalyticsAudience Overlap report in SEMrush Traffic Analytics

For this working example, we can see that Shopify has a really high audience overlap percentage with Shopify. This is another indicator that you should focus in on Shopify’s traffic strategies as their audience is very similar to the one you are trying to reach.

Use the Traffic Analytics report to uncover new channels where competitors are getting a lot of website traffic, but your website is lagging behind. Then, drill in to uncover the specific strategies they are using to drive traffic from each channel.

Note: If you are only interested in analyzing organic and paid traffic sources, you don’t need Traffic Analytics. Instead, sign up for a free 30-day SEMrush Pro account and get access to all the other Toolkits – SEO, PPC etc.

Or, read this post to see which SEMrush trial is best for your business.

Alternatives: Later in the post, I’ll show you some other tools like SimilarWeb that help to get a top-level snapshot.

Step #2: Find Out How Much Organic Traffic a Website Gets (at the Subfolder, Page & Keyword Levels)

The Traffic Analytics report gave us a global view of all traffic sources over time.

But now we’re going to use the Organic Research report in the SEMrush SEO Toolkit to dive deep into your competitor’s organic traffic channels. Again, we’ll take a top-down approach for the traffic analysis:

  1. Overview
  2. Subfolder/subdomain
  3. Page/post
  4. Individual keywords

Each additional layer we peel back will provide more insights that can be used to build a field-tested strategy to drive more website traffic.

For this section, we’ll use The Wirecutter as our working example.

In SEMrush, select SEO Toolkit, click on Organic Research from the side menu, and enter the domain – e.g. “” – you want to analyze:

SEMrush Organic Research reportSEMrush Organic Research report

The Overview report shows the total organic traffic and keywords:

Organic traffic and keyword data in SEMrushOrganic traffic and keyword data in SEMrush

In our example, The Wirecutter has 2.7 million keywords in the Top 100 search results and is getting an estimated 4.4 million organic visits per month.

Under the headline figures are some historical trend graphs. Let’s compare growth over the last year vs. all time:

Looking at organic traffic trends over the last year inside SEMrushLooking at organic traffic trends over the last year inside SEMrush

Over the last year, The Wirecutter saw a steady growth in traffic from 3.6M to 4.4M visits a month.

All-time organic traffic reportAll-time organic traffic report

But over the last two years, traffic has grown from less than 2M to 4.4M visits per month. Traffic growth is accelerating!

Editor’s note:

In the Organic Research Overview report, you can break down the Branded vs Non-Branded organic traffic counts:

Brand vs non brand organic traffic in SEMrushBrand vs non brand organic traffic in SEMrush

Typically, you’ll want to focus on the competitors getting the most Non-Branded organic traffic.

The figures so far have been for Desktop. But we can switch the filter at the top of the page to get Mobile traffic figures as well:

Mobile organic traffic trendMobile organic traffic trend

Over the last year, The Wirecutter mobile traffic decreased slightly from 3.0M to 2.9M visits a month.

In the All time report, we see that mobile traffic has plateaued since the inflection point that occurred in February, 2018.

(Note: desktop traffic started in Jan 2012, but mobile traffic started in March 2015.)

Action item:

Drop each competitor domain into the SEO Toolkit and go to the Organic Research report.

Next – enter the organic traffic count (brand and non-brand), organic traffic cost, and trend data into the Organic Traffic Overview section of the template:

Entering organic traffic stats into the templateEntering organic traffic stats into the template

By subdomain

Ok, let’s go a little deeper and check subdomains.

For this report, we’ll use Shopify as our example.

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Subdomains tab in Organic Research:

List of subdomains in SEMrush that are getting organic trafficList of subdomains in SEMrush that are getting organic traffic

You can see Shopify has 58 subdomains driving hundreds of thousands of monthly organic visits. (Results are sorted by the estimated desktop traffic.)

Most traffic (61%) goes to the main domain, but the remainder is spread to the various subdomains including those for the Help Center, App Store, Themes Store, and various language-specific sites like Spanish.

Remember: use the subdomains to get laser focused with your traffic analysis.

For example:

If you see an ecommerce competitor selling products on a shop subdomain, prioritize your traffic analysis on that subdomain to find commercial intent keyword opportunities:

Traffic analysis by subdomainTraffic analysis by subdomain

Editor’s Note: If you want to learn the exact keyword research processes I use to scale organic traffic for my clients, check out my premium training course, The SEO Playbook.

You’ll learn how to find, qualify, prioritize and map keyword data:

Keyword Research Playbook gifKeyword Research Playbook gif

Screenshots of the Aggregate and Keyword Mapping tabs in The SEO Playbook

By folder

Next, we’re going to analyze the subfolders on Beardbrand.

Using advanced filters in SEMrush, you can find specific types of keywords.

For instance, you can use URL subfolders like “/collections/” or “/product/” to return all the (BOFU) commercial intent product-related keywords for an ecommerce site. On the other hand, using a URL subfolder like “/blog/” returns all the (TOFU) informational intent keyword ideas.

Pro tip: remember to consider which search intent aligns best with your site monetization model.

For example:

Ecommerce site? Drill into the product and category subfolders to find the most valuable traffic opportunities.

Affiliate site? Drill into the review subfolders, or search for modifiers like “best” or “alternative” in the URL strings.

AdSense site? Drill into the blog subfolders to find higher traffic opportunities.

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Positions tab in Organic Research

At the moment there are no filters, and there’s a total 43.1K keywords and 159.K visits/month.

But if you apply filters to the report, you can zoom in on the different intent keywords.

For example:

Beardbrand houses all its categories and products within the /collections subfolder:

Collections subfolderCollections subfolder

Let’s check for commercial intent keywords with these filters:

  • Include > URL > Containing “/collections”
  • Include > Words Count > Greater than 1 (to eliminate single-term or branded keywords)
Adding filters in the organic research report in SEMrushAdding filters in the organic research report in SEMrush

With the filters applied the number of keywords (476) and traffic (15.6K) drops considerably.

Now let’s check for informational intent keywords with these filters:

  • Include > URL > Containing “/blogs/”
  • Include > Words Count > Greater than 1 (to eliminate single-term keywords)
Filters applied for informational keywords in SEMrushFilters applied for informational keywords in SEMrush

From these results, you can see Beardbrand gets significantly more traffic for its informational intent keywords (102.7K) than its commercial intent keywords (15.6K).

But, since we’re an ecommerce competitor, we’d prioritize traffic analysis at the /collections subfolder, and work our way back up to the /blog folder.

Action item:

Go to the SEO Toolkit >> Organic Research >> Subdomains tab:

Organic subdomains reportOrganic subdomains report

Enter the top organic traffic subdomains for each competitor in the Top Subfolders/ Subdomains section of the template:

Subdomains driving the most organic trafficSubdomains driving the most organic traffic

By page

Staying with Beardbrand, you can check which individual pages are ranking for the most keywords and driving the most organic traffic across each stage of the funnel. This is a much better indicator of which topics (rather than keywords) to target in your SEO strategy.

Here’s how:

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Pages tab in Organic Research report:

Here’s the report with no filters.

But we can add the same filters as before to separate the keywords by intent.

Add this filter for the commercial intent keywords:

  • Include > URL > Containing “/collections”
Filtering high organic traffic pages in SEMrushFiltering high organic traffic pages in SEMrush

All these pages are bottom funnel product pages with high traffic and keywords.

Now add this filter for the informational intent keywords:

  • Include > URL > Containing “/blogs”

All these pages are top funnel blog posts with high traffic and ranking for a lot of informational keywords.

Action item:

Navigate to the Organic Research >> Pages report.

Use the Advanced URL filters to quickly find the top 3 organic traffic pages for each stage of the funnel – top, middle and bottom:

Organic traffic at each stage of the funnelOrganic traffic at each stage of the funnel

By keyword

Finally, we’ll look at which keywords are driving the most traffic.

For this example, we’ll use Wirecutter again.

Here’s how:

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Positions tab in Organic Research report:

SEMrush report showing which individual keywords drive the most website trafficSEMrush report showing which individual keywords drive the most website traffic

The top traffic-driving keyword is “wirecutter”. But we can add filters to remove branded keywords and focus on the mid-funnel investigational intent keywords (for affiliate sites) that you’ll find in the “/reviews/” subfolder:

  • Include > URL > Containing “/reviews/”
  • Exclude > Keyword > Containing “wirecutter”
Filters applied to find mid funnel keyword ideas in SEMrushFilters applied to find mid funnel keyword ideas in SEMrush

Now the report shows the mid-funnel keywords that drive the most traffic.

Similarly, you can also filter out the most valuable traffic opportunities using common mid-funnel modifiers such as “best”, “top”, “vs” or “alternative”:

Keyword modifiers in SEMrushKeyword modifiers in SEMrush

Another example is the K9 Of Mine website who focus on using keyword modifiers like “best” rather than a subfolder for their mid-funnel investigational intent keywords. So the filter is:

  • Include > Keyword > Containing “best”

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets grab a lot of valuable SERP real estate.

If you can identifying which terms trigger them, and figure out how to steal them from the competition, you’ll drive a lot more traffic to your website each month:

Featured snippet statisticsFeatured snippet statistics

SEMrush’ SEO Toolkit makes it easy to find all your competitors featured snippets.

Once you have entered a competitor’s domain, scroll down to the SERP Features report on the Overview tab:

SERP Features reportSERP Features report

Click the Featured Snippets link to see all the keywords that your competitors are ranking for with a featured snippet:

Keywords ranking in the featured snippetKeywords ranking in the featured snippet

Check the number of featured snippets for each competitor and enter it into the template:

Entering featured snippet count into the templateEntering featured snippet count into the template

Editor’s note:

Remember to download the template, grab one of the free trials below, and follow along step-by-step with this tutorial.

Step #3: Find Out How Much Paid Traffic A Website Gets (and How Well It Converts)

Are your competitors driving a lot of traffic to their website from paid search?

It’s definitely worth checking. And you can do that with the SEMrush Advertising Toolkit.

This tool will quickly help you discover how much competitors are spending on Google ads, which terms they are bidding on, how they are winning the click, where they send paid traffic, and which keywords convert best.

As you’ve already seen, traffic totals only tell a small portion of the story. In the case of paid search, you want to know HOW competitors are acquiring and converting that traffic.

So again, we’ll peel back the layers to uncover the most valuable (and actionable) insights.

Besides Traffic insight, you’ll uncover:

  • Keywords – to get you in front of the audience
  • Ad Copy – to win the click and earn the visit
  • Landing Pages – to get the conversions

The SEMrush Advertising Toolkit provides an all-access backstage pass to show you how competitors are doing all three, so you can eliminate the guesswork and prevent wasted time and budget.

After all, your competitors have already done all the heavy lifting for you 🙂

These are useful insights for any business, especially if you’re starting fresh and need to purchase some SERP visibility while the organic SEO efforts are kicking into gear.

SEMrush Advertising Toolkit

In SEMrush, select Advertising Toolkit, click on Advertising Research from the side menu, and enter the domain – e.g. “” – you want to analyze:

Analyze paid traffic with the SEMrush Advertising ToolkitAnalyze paid traffic with the SEMrush Advertising Toolkit


At the top of the Positions report, you’ll see three overview numbers detailing your competitor’s use of advertising:

Global of paid traffic statsGlobal of paid traffic stats
  • Keywords – the total number of keywords where the domain was found with a PPC ad ranking in the Top 7 Google Ads positions.
  • Traffic – the estimated traffic coming from these paid keywords (based on keyword search volume and CTR averages per position).
  • Traffic Cost – the estimated price of paying for the PPC ads to rank in the top positions.

Below the headline numbers are the trend graphs:

You can switch between Traffic, Keywords, and Traffic Cost, plus change the timeline between 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and ‘All Time’.

The trend graphs let you gauge whether a competitor is spending more over time. Any trends you spot you can analyze deeper.

It also gives you an idea of how much you’ll have to spend to get similar traffic levels. Or, how much traffic you can expect from specific topic categories.

Enter the following data points into the Paid Traffic Overview section of the template:

  • Monthly paid traffic
  • PPC traffic trend
  • Number of paid keywords
  • Traffic cost
  • Budget trend
Paid Traffic Overview statsPaid Traffic Overview stats

Also, check the Display Advertising and PLA reports in the Advertising Toolkit and flag whether or not compeitors are using those paid strategies to drive traffic.

Checking dsplay ads in SEMrushChecking dsplay ads in SEMrush

Keywords Report

Underneath the trend graphs is a table containing all the keywords that Shopify is bidding on to run their ads:

List of paid keywords driving traffic to a websiteList of paid keywords driving traffic to a website

Aside from their own brand name, you can see they are targeting competitor brands like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, Wix, and Squarespace, plus search terms like “t-shirt printing”, “web store”, and “dropshipping”.

You’ll also be able to see if ad positions are up or down, the CPC and estimated traffic coming from each keyword.

Scan through the list of keywords, or use the filters to hone in on specific products, services and topics. Select the terms you want to target by placing a checkmark next to each one.

Ok – once you’ve built a keyword list, it’s time to find out how competitors are winning the click and driving traffic from those terms.

Ad Copy

The Ad Copies report shows you how your competitors are attracting their audience. You can see the headlines and CTAs they use in the Ad copy, plus the target keywords and landing page.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Ad Copies tab in the Advertising Research report:

Analyzing ad copy in the SEMrush Advertising reportAnalyzing ad copy in the SEMrush Advertising report

At the top of the report, you can see the headline, copy, and landing page.

If you click the drop-down, you can see the target keywords for each ad:

Keywords that trigger ad trafficKeywords that trigger ad traffic

In our example, you can see Shopify is targeting a range of “hosting” keywords. Anyone searching for these terms will likely see a Shopify ad.

Why target hosting? Because the Shopify platform includes hosting, whereas a competitor like WooCommerce requires WordPress hosting.

Ads History

The Ads History report allows you to see all the keywords that a domain purchased over the past year.

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Ad History tab in the Advertising Research report:

Checking to see which ads have been running the longestChecking to see which ads have been running the longest

The number in the blue cell indicates the position of the ad each month. And the Coverage % shows how long the ad ran in the last year, where 100% equals all year.

So, in our example, Shopify had an ad targeting the keyword “Wix” every month over the last year that was in position #1 or #2.

You can also click on any of the blue cells to reveal what the ad copy was for that month:

Ad copy report in SEMrushAd copy report in SEMrush

It’s a useful way to compare how competitors change their ad copy or CTA each month. In our example, you can see Shopify changed their ad copy slightly, by rearranging the order of the sentences:

Grow Your Business With Our Unified Platform. Start 14 Day Free Trial Now. Customize Your Store With Our Website Builder. Social Media Integration. Drop Shipping Integration. 100+ Professional Themes. Fully Hosted. 99.99% Average Uptime. Unlimited 24/7 Support. SEO Optimized.


Customize Your Store With Our Website Builder. Grow Your Business With Our Unified Platform. Start 14 Day Free Trial Now. Social Media Integration. Fraud Prevention. 99.99% Average Uptime.

Note: if a competitor is using the same keyword and ad copy for an entire year (especially if it is for an expensive term), you may be able to infer that the keyword/ad copy combination drives a lot of qualified traffic.

This can help you quickly streamline your paid keyword list down to the best (likely highest-converting) opportunities.

Landing Pages

The Pages report shows you a list of the top landing pages for your competitor’s PPC ads. It’s a useful way of checking the design, copy, and calls to action for each page and getting some inspiration for your landing pages.

Enter your domain – e.g. – and click the Pages tab in the Advertising Research report:

Check which pages are getting the most paid trafficCheck which pages are getting the most paid traffic

Click the gray arrow pop-out beside the page URL to open the landing page.

The majority of Shopify ads land on their homepage, which contains lots of information about the platform. But if you check the free trial landing page, you can see how much more concise the messaging is:

Shopify landing page exampleShopify landing page example

Again – don’t feel like you need to start from scratch when it comes to building out landing pages to convert paid traffic. Look at what the competition is doing, and model their success.

Action item:

Open the Advertising Research >> Pages report and list 3-5 pages getting the most paid traffic:

Top traffic PPC landing pagesTop traffic PPC landing pages

Since competitors are spending a large portion of their monthly ad budget sending traffic to these pages, they’ll likely be testing variations to improve conversions.

As a result, these pages will typically highlight the best page layout and copywriting principles to replicate across your landing pages.

4 Alternatives to Check Website Traffic

If you don’t have access to SEMrush, here are four more ways to check website traffic.


Using Similar Web to check website trafficUsing Similar Web to check website traffic

SimilarWeb starts with a Traffic Overview that includes engagement stats – Total Visits, Average Visit Duration, Pages per Visit, and Bounce Rate.

All traffic estimates include both mobile and desktop traffic for the last six months.

As you scroll down the page, there are additional stats for:

  • Traffic by Countries
  • Traffic Sources (Direct/Referrals/Search/Social/Email/Display)
    – Top Referring Sites
    – Search Traffic (Top 5 Organic and Paid Keywords)
    – Social Traffic
    – Display Advertising Traffic

SimilarWeb collect their data from a variety of sources.

Additional resource: 6 Best SimilarWeb Alternatives


Checking website traffic in AlexaChecking website traffic in Alexa

Alexa’s website traffic tool includes competitive analysis, so entering your target domain – e.g. – automatically adds competitors to the dashboard –,,, and

There’s a lot of data on the page including:

  • Alexa site rank
  • Unique Visitors
  • Visitors by Country
  • Engagement metrics (pageviews per visitor/time on site/bounce rate)
  • Traffic sources
  • Site Flow (sites visited before and after target)

Alexa tracks data for everyone who has the Alexa toolbar installed on their browser, which accounts for less than 1% of internet users. So it’s not the most accurate, but gives you a rough idea.


Checking website traffic in AhrefsChecking website traffic in Ahrefs

Ahrefs is excellent for organic search traffic analysis. Their estimates include both desktop and mobile traffic.

Similar to SEMrush, traffic can be analyzed with a top-down approach:

  • All organic traffic – viewed as a whole or broken down by 170 countries.
  • Keyword counts/ growth – check keyword and traffic growth trends.
  • Subfolder/subdomain – use the filters to check whether traffic goes to top, middle or bottom of funnel.
  • Page/post – use the Top Pages report to see which pages get the most traffic.
  • Keyword – use the Organic Keywords report to see which keywords drove most traffic.

Check out my Ahrefs review for 50+ practical applications of the toolset.

Ahrefs’ data comes from the huge amounts of clickstream data that they process every day.

Note: Ahrefs’ paid traffic analysis still has a long way to go, and you will not be able to get the same global insights that a tool like SEMrush Traffic Analytics provides.

Advertise Page

Some sites advertise how much traffic they get, so it’s worth trying an advanced Google search if you’re interested in finding traffic stats for a particular site.

Try this Google search: advertise with us

Example GeekWire advertise with us

Checking traffic stats on the GeekWire Advertising pageChecking traffic stats on the GeekWire Advertising page

You’ll find stats like above, which may or may not be accurate and up to date.

GeekWire claims to get 1.2M visitors a month.

Example Healthline advertise with us

Checking traffic stats on the Healthline advertising pageChecking traffic stats on the Healthline advertising page

Healthline says they scale to 71 million users a month.

The “advertise page” can sometimes give you a ballpark traffic figure. But, you won’t be able to dissect each channel like you can with a tool like SEMrush.

Ready. Set. Analyze.

Traffic estimation tools are not 100% accurate, but the insights from a tool like SEMrush will give you a great idea of which channels, posts/pages, and keywords are driving the most website traffic. And, how that traffic interacts with a website’s content.

These insights can be used to build out your own comprehensive content marketing and PPC strategies. No more guesswork, just a data-driven road map to more website traffic.

Editor’s note: If you haven’t done so already, make sure you grab one of the free trials below so you can follow along with the tutorial and build a rock solid traffic acquisition strategy for your business and/or clients.

If you’re just looking to analyze how much organic and/or paid traffic a website gets, use the SEMrush Pro trial.

If you want traffic and engagement insights across all traffic channels, grab the Pro + Traffic Analytics trial.

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