Traffic Data is important. Website traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. Without traffic, nobody will read the blog content published, complete forms or sign up for newsletters, or make purchases. Without traffic, an online business is dead in the water.

Whether your website traffic is through the roof or you are struggling to find new opportunities and sources, digging into the traffic data and insights from your competitors’ websites can prove to be highly beneficial.

Imagine if you could look behind the curtain and see traffic data for any website. Would that be of interest to you? Now, while the only way you will get 100 percent accurate and true traffic information would be to look at their Google Analytics account — and that isn’t happening — there are ways to get very good information that can help you tremendously.

I’m going to explain how, as well as why it’s smart to reverse engineer the traffic data of the websites you are competing against and trying to outperform in the SERPs.


Why You Need to Know How to Analyze and Understand Website Traffic Data

Simply put, you are never going to be able to outperform a website if you don’t know what you are competing against. If you attempt to do SEO, marketing, or advertising blindly, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Would you ever attempt to start a business without doing some research on competition, and know that you have a chance to compete and be successful? Of course not, and you need that same mentality when it comes to SEO and website traffic.

By gathering as much data as possible you can then map out a plan of attack that makes sense. Even if your goals are large, like ranking for a massive keyword, you can create several smaller goals that will help you eventually conquer the big goal. But, you cannot do that properly without information to build your plan around.

Knowing where you stand allows you to make intelligent business decisions and can help you avoid wasting both time and money. I’ve pulled the plug on multiple keywords and changed the direction of SEO campaigns after looking at data.

Speculation will only get you so far. Data, on the other hand, never lies.

There is a huge advantage knowing where your competitors are pulling traffic from. It can tell you what channels are the most profitable and help you optimize your SEO effort, while also helping you discover new traffic sources you may not have tapped into yet.



What Data Points Need to Be Analyzed

There are a few key stats and numbers that are very important and help to paint the picture, allowing you to understand traffic information and determine how you can use that information to improve your efforts.

The best way to understand website traffic is to become familiar with it by diving into your own Google Analytics account. At the very least, become familiar with these three data points.

  • UVs (Unique Visitors): This number is important because a website might have 5,000 visits a day, but if it’s a popular blog and the average visitor might return several times a day. While it may appear that 5,000 visits a day are the number, once you look at the UV data you might learn that it’s 1,000 visitors who each return 5 times throughout the day.


  • Organic Traffic: This is the traffic that comes from Google search. If your goal is to increase organic traffic you need to make sure you are separating this data from other sources that might be from affiliates or paid channels.


  • Referral Traffic: This is traffic from other websites and platforms. This could be from social media networks or guest posts or sponsored content. Looking into this data can help you identify new targets to either try to get links from or to buy advertising space on.

Google Analytics has advanced tremendously over the past few years and there is so much information available, but when it comes to looking at competitors’ traffic you aren’t going to have access to their GA data — but with tools and strategies you can uncover the data outlined above.


Why Reverse Engineering the Traffic Data of Competitors’ is Helpful

There are many reasons why it’s worth investing the time and effort into breaking down as much traffic data from your competition as possible. With organic competition increasing one factor remains the same and will never change — there is only so much prime real estate available at the top of the SERPs.

Think about how the search results have changed over the years. It used to be very simple — ten results. Now we have Google Maps on top for local intent keywords, along with video results from YouTube, rich snippets, and even what many refer to as “position zero.”

So, while the competition for the top results has increased, the actual available space has decreased. The competition isn’t going to slow down — if anything it will only increase. There won’t be any new real estate opening up at the top of the SERPs — if anything it will become smaller over time. Here are three main reasons why you should try to find out as much information about your competitors’ traffic as possible.

1. Learn What Content is the Most Successful

Creating and publishing content isn’t cheap. Great writers are hard to find. You can no longer buy outsourced 500-word content for $5 and expect to rank. Knowing what content in your niche performs the best allows you to come up with topics that have a proven track record of attracting organic traffic.

2. Find the Highest Volume Keywords

Not sure what keywords you should target? Not only can this help you find terms you may have overlooked during your initial keyword research, but it can help you validate keywords that are difficult to rank for. Investing the time and money into ranking for a keyword that you know for a fact delivers results is an easier pill to swallow than just blindly trying to rank for keywords that are more of a mystery potential-wise.

3. Discover New Traffic Channels to Target

You might dive into a competitor’s data and notice a large chunk of traffic coming from a referral source that you never even thought of. You can then double-down, targeting that source multiple ways — banner ads, guest posting, advertorials, sponsored content, etc.

So, where can you get this information if you don’t have login details to their Google Analytics? The answer is third-party tools.



Third-Party Tools to Analyze Website Traffic Data

There isn’t a shortage of tools available — both paid and free — that all claim to provide helpful and accurate website traffic data. The truth is that most of these just guess, and the actual data they spit out is worthless.

With that being said, some are helpful and can provide data that can be used to enhance your SEO, resulting in improved website traffic numbers. Here are some solid options I use myself.


While Ahrefs is a paid tool they do offer a free 7-day trial, but if you are serious about SEO a subscription is a solid investment. I like to use this tool to see what keywords a competitor is ranking for, but more importantly how much traffic each keyword is potentially responsible for.

Ahrefs crawl is massive, monitoring more than 150 million keywords, so there is a lot of data available and being one of the most widely used SEO tools ensures that it’s going to be kept updated. While it’s “estimated” data, I’ve found it to be a pretty strong indicator of traffic volume per keyword.


I’m listing this even though the free version is useless for what we need. The paid version does offer a free version though, and its traffic estimation tool gives you a good look into what a competing website might be receiving visit-wise since Alexa rank uses this information for its global and country-specific rankings.

This is worth checking out if you are in a popular niche and your competition consists of well-known and popular websites. For small niches or local results, however, it might not be helpful as they only collect data on websites visited by the users in their data pool.


I view SEMrush as being on the same level as Ahrefs. Both provide good insight, and while not 100 percent accurate, it’s a great way to find out what keywords your competition is currently ranking for and how much traffic each is potentially responsible for.

This can help you discover keywords with high search volume that you may not have thought about previously. If you can quickly rank for them and pull a small percentage of those visits to your website — and do this across several keywords — it can have a noticeable impact on increasing your website’s traffic volume.


This is my favorite tool to find out what pages of a competitor are attracting the most organic traffic. You can get away using the free version to start. Enter your competitor’s URL and then click on “Top Pages” to see each URL on their website, estimated traffic volume for each page, as well as how many links each page has.

You can then click on the “Estimated Visits” tab to see more detailed information, showing you the keywords responsible for the traffic, the estimated visits for each, as well as what position the site is ranking for each term. The “Backlinks” tab shows you a list of the links each page has.

There is a lot of information here that can help you improve your traffic volume, and once you get a feel for how Ubersuggest works it is likely to become one of your go-to paid SEO tools.


How to Analyze Website Traffic Data Without Tools

There are ways to uncover traffic data without using tools also, and sometimes you can get great insight if you spend a little time digging and implementing these suggestions. Here are a few simple tips that can help you collect some useful information without spending any money.

Find (or Ask for) a Media/Press Kit

If you are in a large niche look for some of the top blogs and see if they have a dedicated page featuring their media or press kit. These will typically have traffic data, as they want to appeal to potential advertisers and brand partners.

You can also use Google search, targeting keywords like:

  • “media kit [your niche] blog”
  • “press kit [your niche] blog”
  • “download media kit [your niche] blog”
  • “download press kit [your niche] blog”
  • “[your niche] media kit”
  • “[your niche] press kit”
  • “pdf media kit [your niche]“
  • “pdf press kit [your niche]“


Look at Their “Advertise” Page

The same reasoning as above, this is just another page on a website that will potentially have traffic numbers and data out in the open. I have even seen some advertising pages have updated Google Analytics screenshots from the previous month.

If you know the data is fresh and updated regularly you can trust it more, so always look for a notation that says when the reported numbers are from. If it’s old (I’ve seen some that were several years old) don’t waste your time, as many factors could be in play, such as a possible Google penalty, etc.


Email as a Potential Advertiser

This is a very straightforward approach. Create a throwaway email and reach out, explaining that you are interested in possibly advertising and would like to know how much traffic the site receives on a daily and monthly basis.

See what they respond with and if they seem willing to disclose details you can further ask for more Google Analytics data. You can even ask to be added to their Google Analytics account with view-only privileges. I have dug deep into competitors’ traffic using this approach. You’d be surprised at how freely some websites will add someone to their GA if they think advertising revenue is on the line.



Final Thoughts

While there isn’t a single third-party tool that can provide you with website traffic data that is 100 percent accurate, there are ways to get a very good understanding of what is going on and provide you with information that you can use to improve your own website’s traffic numbers.

The goal is to have a better understanding of what kind of content is popular in your industry, as well as what traffic sources drive the most visitors. From there you can split-test different strategies and use the hard data within your own Google Analytics account to see first-hand if and how your traffic has increased, resulted in more leads, or helped convert more sales.

Does this take some work and outside-of-the-box thinking? Yes, but as competition online increases you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work in the trenches to uncover new opportunities.

If you aren’t willing to do it I can promise you that another website is, and if you sit idle they will quickly surpass you in the SERPs. Who’s excited to try this? Let me know in the comments below.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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