How to Do Market Research (with Semrush)

Harry Sanders

Apr 24, 202111 min read
how to do market research

In our last article on the basics of market research, we discussed the importance of conducting market research regularly. Now we’ll show you how to run your own research project. 

Our wide range of toolkits makes it easier than ever to conduct your own market research. Whether you’re a start-up business or selling a new product, the following tools can give you the jump on your competitors and a great head start to business growth.

Accessing Semrush’s Market Research Tools

Many of the tools mentioned are available with our subscription plans. However, to access Traffic Analytics and Market Explorer tools, you’ll need to pay an additional monthly charge. 

The Competitive Research Toolkit

Competitive research involves monitoring and analyzing what your competitors are doing in the marketplace. Generally: 

  • If your competitors are doing something really well, study it and do it better.
  • If your competitors are performing poorly in an area, do it better than they are and rank better.
  • If you notice a gap in the market from your research, claim it and make it yours.

Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your direct and secondary competitors shows you where you can best spend your budget to get the best return on your investment. 

You can find the Competitive Research toolkit in the main sidebar once logged into Semrush.

how to do market research

Collecting Data with Semrush’s Market Research Tools

Traffic Analysis 

Click through the Traffic Analytics tool from the main sidebar or from the Competitive Research dashboard

You’ll enter your competitor’s root domain in the main input. You also have the option to compare domains or analyze multiple domains in bulk. 

how to do market research

The tool returns a wealth of information, including their visits by device, most popular pages, traffic source types, and even a traffic distribution breakdown. You’ll also have additional options to adjust the month, locations, and devices targeted.

how to do market research
how to do market research

Traffic Overview

how to do market research

Here we’re looking at the traffic for a well-known shoe brand. With the Traffic Overview, you can see:

  • Their domain earned 23.4 million visits in March 2021, with 12.2 million unique visitors.
  • Each visitor visited 3 to 4 pages, staying an average of 7 minutes 40 seconds, with a bounce rate of 50% or so. 
  • Further along the page, we can see the visits by device, either desktop or mobile. For Adidas, we learned that mobile visits occur almost twice as often as desktop visits.
  • The Top Page thematic report shows us that the homepage is their most visited page, with mobile visits again outweighing desktop. 
  • The Traffic source by Type report shows:

— 52.2% of visits were directly from people entering the brand name’s website into the address bar.
— 22.8% clicked through from an organic search result.
— 4.34% of visitors were referred by another website.
— Only 3.1% of visitors came through from a social media platform.
— Only 7.57% of users clicked on a paid ad.

how to do market research

Audience Insights

One tab over is the Audience Insights report. This report determines market segmentation information and related audience psychographics — two helpful insights when it comes to market research.

We’ll look at market segmentation in more detail later in this article.

This option gives you the chance to:

  • View where your audience and your competitor’s audience overlaps.
  • Visually compare the differences in size between your audience and those of your competitor’s.
  • See the number of visitors to a chosen website, a domain, or subdomain.

Traffic Journey

how to do market research

 This report allows you to identify the top traffic sources sending the most visitors to the targeted domain, and 5 external domains that visitors most frequently go to after visiting your domain. 

Where have your visitors come from? It’s a good question to know the answer to if your competitor is running a campaign you hope to disrupt with your own marketing campaign. In this scenario: 

  • It helps with trending reports on your competitor.
  • You can find websites to put display ads on to divert traffic.
  • You can build an audience profile regarding what websites they frequent.

Traffic sources are categorized as: 

  • Direct: 

— The visitor typed the address directly into the search bar. They’re already aware of and interested in the company brand. 

— Alternatively, a marketing campaign might have led to a direct visit. What was that campaign, and what was engaging about it? 

  • Referral from another site:

— Was one of your ads present on that website?

— Is it a backlink referral?

— What kind of website is it? This can help reveal a target (or undesirable) audience.

  • Search:

— These visits come directly from SERPs.

— They can give you insights into keywords you may be performing well for or want to target better. 

  • Social:

— Was the visit generated from a social media ad or a referral?

— Was the traffic from a social media influencer?

— What insights can this social media platform offer?

  • Click-Through:

— Discover how much your competitor is relying on paid ads for traffic.

These sources of traffic information can help you understand the strategy of your competitors. If there is a high click-through traffic source you know they’re spending significantly on PPC. On the other hand, if a lot of traffic is coming from social media, you can assume they’ve run paid ads, or are running some kind of social media promotion. 

Top Pages 

This option shows you the top pages driving your competitor’s traffic. This won’t always be their home page or the pages available in their site map. 

You can even sort the ranking pages by time period. This feature offers insight into whether your competitors are running a marketing campaign directing customers to a specific landing page, or which product pages are ranking highest. 

You can also use the Top Pages report for further details about the device used to access those top pages (mobile or desktop.)


Use this widget to determine the subdomains driving the most traffic for your targeted domain. You can, again, filter by time period or by device type.

You can also use this feature to better understand what your competitor prioritize in their marketing strategy. 

  • Are they chasing different geographic locations?
  • Are they sending traffic directly to their blogs?
  • Is it the news section they’re trying to promote?
  • Is your competitor heavily promoting their store and having customers land directly there?
  • Or are they prioritizing specific products within their store?

Geo Distribution

The Geo Distribution report within the Traffic Analytics tool can show you which countries, regions, cities and postal codes are currently driving the bulk of your competitor’s traffic.

You can find out if your competitor’s local SEO efforts are working, or if there are other postcodes or regions you could market to with less competition. 

For companies with a global reach, you can use the Geo Distribution report to find countries where your message can make a big impact. 

Market Explorer 

The Market Explorer tool allows you to run a detailed market analysis. Discover significant or new competitors with the market quadrant, or learn more about your audience’s demographics. 

You can use the Market Explorer tool to make data-driven decisions about your competitors or a future marketing campaign or project.

With our Market Explorer tool you can:

  • See where you currently stand in your target industry.
  • See who the top players in your field are and compare yourselves to them.
  • Segment audience data into demographics and psychographics.

Using the Market Explorer tool for Market Research 

Once you enter your competitor’s domain into the first page of the tool, your results will include: 

  • Relevant sites which rank for that domain.
  • Analysis of market trends related to that domain.
  • Niches you can take advantage of and own through keywords and backlinks.

Semrush will give you insights into which competitors to target, and your current market share. 

Growth Quadrant 

how to do market research

The quadrant is a visual representation of the competitors in your marketplace. It features 4 categories that offer quick insights into who you’ll be against while increasing your market share.

Get the Market Explorer & Traffic Analytics Tools

through the Competitive Intelligence Add-on

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These categories are:

  • Niche Players: These sites have a smaller market share compared to larger brands, but are slowly growing. They tend to be newer brands or companies that are trying to compete in the marketing landscape, or older companies who are slowly dying out. 
  • Game Changers: The current traffic volume to these sites is relatively small but increasing rapidly. These brands could be start-ups with a lot of attention surrounding them, companies with money to invest, or large companies entering the market. These competitors are ones to keep an eye on.
  • Leaders: These websites and brands have significant traffic volume, and it continues to grow at a strong rate. 
  • Established Players: These websites already own significant traffic volume, but their growth rate is slower than the average of everyone else. They are your older, more established brands that have fairy strong brand recognition.

Competitor Market Share

With the growth quadrant diagram, you can determine a competitor’s online market share and discover who the market leaders are. 

If you want to target a brand with a smaller market share, you can use the data offered in this tool to determine their strengths and weaknesses, or create a marketing report on a brand you want to compete against.

4 types of Market Segmentation Research 

As mentioned briefly earlier in this article, there are 4 kinds of Market Segmentation Research that you can do with the Semrush marketing toolkit. 


Who is the customer? What makes them tick? What decisions do they make based on certain criteria, which leads them to buy from you or your competitors? 

The categories you look for in demographic segmentation are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Income
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Role in Company
  • Family Status 

A great deal of insight can be gained from knowing these things about your target audience. 

For example, if your target audience is in their 30s with good income, you could assume they own or would be looking to buy a house, so they wouldn’t spend as much or only buy essentials. 

In contrast, the spending habits of an audience of 15 year olds would be different from those aged 16 and above. The older participants might have their first job and suddenly have disposable income. They might be saving up for their own car or to go to college. 

If someone is a single parent, their spending and buying habits would be different to a family with two incomes, or a couple with two incomes and no kids. 


Psychographics focus on what your target audience thinks and feel. What motivates them? What are their wants and needs? 

  • Psychographics include:
  • Personality traits
  • Hobbies
  • Life goals
  • Values and beliefs
  • Lifestyles

You can discover much about your target audience through the holidays they search for, or where in the world they plan to travel, for example. 

Are they searching for investment properties or how to buy cryptocurrency? 

You might ask yourself what hobbies they enjoy or how active they are daily. How a person sees themselves, and their place in the world can greatly influence the way they spend their money, and how they will receive marketing messages from you.


Where in the world is your target audience? What country are they in? What region of that country, city, or postcode?

How you market to your audience can depend on knowing their language and cultural norms. Metrics like postcodes can offer further insight into spending habits or indicate disposable income.


This segment is the most useful for digital marketing research. 

Use behavioral segmentation to discover spending and purchasing habits or preferred sites to browse, or any loyalty to brands. You can pull up previous product ratings and reviews as well. 

Does your target audience browse more on mobile devices or computers? Are they willing to buy an item on a mobile or a desktop? 

Did they like their previous experience with “Brand XYZ” or are they now looking for an alternative? 

These 4 marketing segments can assist your digital marketing efforts considerably. Together, they can guide you on how to speak to your target audience, as well as what they like or dislike.

These tools are great for direct comparison between you and competitors. At a glance, you can start making decisions on what keywords you’re going to compete against, or what backlinks you’ll need to generate to close any opportunity gaps.

how to do market research
how to do market research

Keyword Gap

The Keyword Gap tool compares the keyword profile of up to 5 competitors for mobile or desktop. You can use this tool to really drive an SEO strategy that competes with that of your competitors, or to find keywords no one else is ranking for. 

You’ll need to consider whether it’s worth spending time or money targeting your competitor’s keywords, whether it might be easier to invest in owning more obscure keywords for which you can rank easily. 

how to do market research

This tool compares backlinks and authority with 5 other competitor profiles. You can see all domains currently sending backlinks to your competitors. Use these sites as inspiration for domains where you can also generate backlinks. 

Add your domain to the list to determine the sites linking to your competitor’s websites, but not to you. You can then target those domains for a chance to increase your rankings.

Brand Awareness

You can monitor and compare competitor brands with several tools in our Social Media toolkit: 

Social Media Tracker

You can use the Social Media Tracker tool for accurate, consistent updates on your competitor’s social media accounts. It shows you their top content by total engagement or engagement rate for up to a year. Use these insights to begin similar conversations or target your shared audience.

Social Media Analytics 

Available on your toolkit dashboard, the Social Media Analytics tool generates one detailed report to track your and your competitor’s social media performance. You’ll see any change in their follower count and engagement rate. 

Brand Monitoring (Content Marketing Toolkit) 

The Brand monitoring tool tracks any keywords or long-tail phrases that you set, as well as your brand or account are mentioned. You can also track these metrics for your competition. 

You can also integrate the Brand Monitoring tool with your Google Analytics to track traffic from your brand mentions to your website. 

Use the Brand Monitoring tool to easily track your brand’s online reputation and quickly respond to negative responses to your brand. When leveraged correctly, the Brand Monitoring tool becomes critical in growing your brand over time. 

Key Takeaways

You have a suite of powerful market research tools available at your disposal with our Competitive Research and Social Media toolkits. It’s important to consistently measure your market share to understand how your marketing is hitting the mark (or not.) 

You can easily move from research to implementation without leaving the Semrush dashboard. Overall, you can make informed and confident marketing decisions about next steps for your business.

Get the Market Explorer & Traffic Analytics Tools

through the Competitive Intelligence Add-on

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Author Photo
Harry SandersHarry Sanders is the founder and director of StudioHawk, a company specializing in using SEO to help businesses get found online. StudioHawk was fortunate enough to be nominated for 6 categories last year at the Semrush awards and won two — Best low Budget Campaign & Young Search Professional. Harry has been living and breathing SEO ever since his first agency job at 14.
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