How to Get the Full Benefit of Website Traffic Research

If you don’t keep an eye on your competitors, how will you know you are still on top? In peaceful times, businesses need to be sure that they are not too complacent about their product or service, and that their offer is still in demand. Those undergoing difficulties can find a way out by looking at what their competitors have already tested – saving themselves from potentially fatal experiments.

Competent and comprehensive research of other companies’ website traffic and online performance can resolve numerous challenges, provided it doesn’t expose more problems itself. Website traffic analysis can reveal invaluable insights on potential investees, competitors, future partners, and potential media for advertising. But to see the results, you need to be aware of the stumbling blocks.

We’ve studied the main difficulties investors – along with marketing and business development teams – may face when analyzing other companies’ website traffic and here’s how we suggest resolving them.

Verifying the Scope

Challenge: specifying the research objective

Being in charge, you tend to look at the bigger picture. However, once you’ve stepped on the path of market research, you need to put your goal into the most detailed form possible. Different aims require different steps, and it would be a shame to waste resources without coming up with any viable conclusions. The question is, how do you specify your objective?

Solution: separate important from interesting

For example, when analyzing a company’s activity in a certain country, it is important to know what worked for them and their competitors in this region, while it is only interesting to see how they promoted themselves worldwide. Make sure to communicate the needed scope to your colleagues. This will keep the workload reasonable, even in the current competitive environment where there are a lot more than direct competitors to analyze.

Try out this method by making your own list of important and interesting parameters for research in the template below.

Website traffic research template

Enhancing the Insights

Challenge: explaining how your insights will be useful to other teams

Of course, it is important to know what campaigns your competitors are running on specific channels and which platforms are left unoccupied for you. However, competitive intelligence and market research are not limited to resolving such tactical problems and whirling around your rivals’ activities. To see the practical meaning of whatever news you receive from competitors, teams need to be aware of the bigger picture. Otherwise, it can occur that your analysts keep track of competitors’ marketing campaigns regularly but remain in the dark about their upcoming product releases. Another possible scenario: your company’s stakeholders may be planning to change the course of the business, while the CI team is still investing most of their time and effort in researching the current market.

How could you avoid it?

Solution: share the bigger picture

Limited understanding of the value of market research by other teams is still one of the main challenges CI professionals face, so try to share any news on the analyzed companies, industries, and competitors and support it with website traffic and online performance data. Remember to analyze the situation from different angles, such as types of traffic (desktop/mobile), regional stats, or audience overlap. Simple reporting may not be enough: encourage the team to present their initiatives along with the benefits for each department involved.

Speeding up Data Gathering

Challenge: spending less time on data gathering

The process of searching for data doesn’t bring any quantitative benefits for the company, but it still takes up most of the time spent on competitive and market research. How can you tip the scale?

Solution: make the most out of API solutions

If you’ve been in the game for a while, you know how API access can make a difference for a business. But have you used them in market research?

Imagine: numerous website traffic stats can be connected to your corporate analytics solution or delivered directly in spreadsheets. Instead of spending precious time on gathering and retyping stats manually (with a great risk of human error), you can enjoy more filterable information instantly integrated into your dataset.
It is important to update data regularly and promptly. Decision-makers will have a chance to take action as soon as they get insights, and fewer opportunities will be wasted.

SEMrush traffic analytics

Sample data available via SEMrush Traffic Analytics API

Using Reliable Data

Challenge: obtaining high-quality data

Two issues arise here. The first: among all the data providers that are active in the market, how do you choose the one that will provide you with unique and reliable information?
The second: how can you guarantee that collected findings will be interpreted correctly?

Solution: choose a data provider carefully and understand their methods of gathering

To make well-grounded decisions, you need to keep a wider range of stats at hand. When choosing a data provider for website traffic and online performance data, try to understand:

  • How do they collect their data?
  • What kind of data do they collect?
  • Do they provide only web traffic data or the entire picture of the analyzed company’s digital performance?
  • How big is their core data set?
  • What is an approximate margin of error of their data?
  • How often do they update the data?

Another way to verify your dataset is to use multiple data sources. None of the data-collecting applications are perfect for every use case. Yet, each of them has their own strengths. Some tools can be better at analyzing smaller regional websites, while others are tailored to processing huge global domains. To get an objective picture, you may want to use several providers, compare the accuracy of their data along the way and ultimately choose the one that will satisfy your needs.

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  • Originally published June 25, 2019, updated May 5, 2023