Search traffic is the main pipeline for online marketers to draw traffic, whether it’s from paid or organic sources. Competition over keywords and SERP real-estate is fierce and constant and you have to adjust yourself to the ongoing changes of algorithms and policies by Google.
In order to be able to stay on top, online marketers are forced to use multiple tools, track competitors and optimize their paid and organic campaigns accordingly. This takes time and money and can be, at times, a bit frustrating. In this article we’ll go over 4 easy actions you can take, using the competitive analytics platform, SimilarWeb PRO, in order to make this process easier, faster and much more productive.
A few words about SimilarWeb PRO
SimilarWeb PRO is a platform that shows you the analytics of any website. This includes all traffic sources, including the number of visits per source, the referring websites, referring keywords and even engagement metrics such as time on site and bounce rate. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus just on the Search.
Step 1 – Define Your Competitors
Most good marketers can list their top 5-10 competitors, but online and especially for Search definitions become more complicated. For example, Easyjet the low cost airline competes directly with Ryanair and British Airways for the majority market share in the UK. In this industry one of the most competitive and highest volume keywords is “Cheap Flights” where other players fight for position including booking.com and Kayak.com. So to succeed Easyjet needs to look at both their known competitors and their keyword competitors.
Your first step will be to understand which competitors you should be researching. In order to do that you can start running multiple related search queries in Google and try to identify competitors that are ranked for most of them. You will need to do this for both the paid and organic results.
Alternatively, you can go to SimilarWeb PRO, open the ‘Industry Analysis’ section, go to ‘Category Leaders’ and pick the traffic channel ‘Search’:
In this section you’ll find the leading ‘Search’ websites, meaning – the websites getting the most traffic from search. Look at paid and organic search together to judge the competitiveness of certain keywords, or analyze each separately, in case your SEO and PPC strategies are not synced.
Step 2 – Estimate Your Competitor’s Organic and Search Spends
In order to figure out which keywords your competitors are targeting you need to run search queries in Google and estimate the amount of traffic according to their rank and the search volume given by Google keyword planner. You can also use tools that tell you the ranked words of a website, such as SEMRush and again, estimate the potential traffic from each keyword. Alternatively, you can go to SimilarWeb PRO and see exactly how much traffic your competitor is getting from each referring word.
Let’s look at an example from the book retailer industry and run a ‘Website Analysis’ on one of the top websites we found in step 1 – AbeBooks.com. This website gets almost 5.5 million visits a month from desktop users, 60% of it comes from search and almost 70% coming from US audience:
Now let’s see where all this search traffic is coming from – Going to ‘Search’ section under ‘Traffic Sources’, you’ll find everything you need to know about the search marketing strategy of AbeBooks.com.
As you can see, most of AbeBooks.com’s search traffic is organic. Only 10% comes from paid search. Keep in mind though that while it’s 10%, it still comes up to almost 2 million visits in the past 6 months. As a competitor of AbeBooks.com you can either decide to take over the paid search, or alternatively, try to take over the organic search. Either way, now you can know exactly how much competition you’re going to face in each.
Step 3 – Find Out Which Keywords Refer Traffic to Your Competitor
So we know which competitor we should be analyzing and we know the search strategies for key competitors. Now we can take it a step further and see the specific keywords that are generating traffic for our competitors.
In the same section, ‘Search’, scroll down to the table of keywords. A good best practice is to check the ‘Exclude branded keywords’ box, which will filter out the branded terms and bring up the good stuff. In the top of the list we can already see some interesting keywords such as ‘used books’, ‘cheap textbooks’ and ‘international edition textbooks’. We can see how much traffic each keyword brought by multiplying its traffic share percentage with the total search traffic AbeBooks.com got. We can also see which keywords were recently pushed by examining the ‘Change’ column, which shows you the change percentage in traffic share compared to last month:
By exporting this table you can start running deeper analysis on this list of keywords, divide it to groups, add it to your paid campaigns and run start combining these keywords in your SEO strategy.
Step 4 – Find out Which Ads Your Competitor is Using Per Keyword Group
There are tools out there, including Google keyword planner, that can tell you which keywords have the biggest potential to bring you paid search traffic by showing you their search volume, estimated bids and competition level. However, none of these tools will show you the exact keywords used per ad. SimilarWeb PRO gives you this information and more – it shows which ads match to different search terms.
For this example we’ll use another website, Rakuten.com from the ecommerce industry, repeating the same stages described in step 1. Clicking on the ‘Search Ads’ tab, we see the search ads used by Rakuten.com and the keywords that people searched when clicking on that ad. So you basically get the full funnel of search traffic acquisition. Searching for specific words such as ‘shopping online’, to analyze specific groups of keywords more closely:
Conclusion: Competitor Intelligence Pays Off
Search marketing is a never ending battle to claim supremacy over keywords and SERP rankings. Because of the highly competitive nature of the industry loads of data and proven strategies are out there just waiting to be used. Competitor intelligence will show you both the strategies and tactics that have proven to work.
The 4 key takeaways from this article will give you a good head start when launching new campaigns or looking to enhance existing ones.
- Define your competition, both business and keyword based.
- Find the organic and paid strategies that exist among you competitors to take advantage of underutilized channels.
- Learn from the keyword level tactics before you make investments to save on costs.
- Find out which creative are being utilized to develop a strategy that will beat your competitors.
The ‘search traffic’ benefits you gain by using SimilarWeb PRO are only a small aspect of what SimilarWeb PRO can give you. The platform will help you in all of your online marketing strategies, will tell you where and when you should expand to other markets, will warn you about possible threats and will provide you with the insights to find new opportunities. Visit SimilarWeb PRO to learn about its benefits and read use-cases learning guides to start understanding how to use SimilarWeb PRO in your own business.
This guest post is sponsored by SimilarWeb. Check out their competitor analytics reports here.
About the author
Natalie Halimi is the Head of Online Marketing at SimilarWeb. Her fields of expertise include: SEO, SMO, media buying, mobile marketing, content marketing, affiliate management and competitive analysis.