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SEMrush Toolbox: Traffic Analytics Tool




Craig: Welcome to today's SEMrush webinar, hope you're all good, staying at home and coronavirus-free. Today, I am joined by Sam. Is this your first SEMrush webinar, Sam?

Sam: No, I have done a bunch. I did some SEO Surgeries, I've done a few other random ones, but first one in a while.

Craig: Yeah, I've not come across you on them, but obviously, we do them in all sorts of countries and everything else, but I was curious to know if the audience would know of you. Sam, where are you based in the world?

Sam: I'm based in Baltimore, Maryland, so East Coast, nice and rainy. 

Craig: I'm based in Glasgow, Scotland, which I'm sure many people know from the accent, but we actually have around 17-18 degrees, believe it or not, which is insane. 

Today's presentation is going to be about the Traffic Analytics tool, but before we go into that we'll just let people join, there's a lot of people still joining. But can you tell us for anyone who's watching who's not familiar with what you do or what your experience is, tell us a bit about your background.

Sam: Sure, so I have a bit of non-traditional background in the marketing space. I worked in finance and real estate for a while then made the transition over. And for about five years...I've worked at Warschawski, which is a boutique digital communications firm. We're based in Baltimore, we have offices in New York and D.C. You work with a variety of companies all across the globe.

Right now my clients are anything from global biotech companies, boutique consultancies, consumer packaged goods, real estate, senior care, energy and utilities. Kind of runs the gamut, and we do everything from paid search and paid social advertising to SEO services as well as creative websites, et cetera. We're a full-service shop, and my role there is leading the entire digital group and the outlooks group. 

SEMrush Traffic Analytics Tool Overview

Craig: What we're going to do is just jump into the webinar. For the first 10 minutes I'm going to show you what Traffic Analytics is and how the tool functions, and then we're going to get Sam on who's going to show us how he uses the tool on a day-to-day basis, the ins and outs of how it actually works and the data that it produces. 

We'll do that, then we will have questions and answers, and the questions and answers don't have to be related to the two. If you've got questions or you want to pick Sam's brain or my brain or whatever it's going to be... Probably better picking Sam's brain, he's got more of a brain than me.

I'm going to start sharing my screen just now, and we will show you what this Traffic Analytics does. Traffic Analytics, first and foremost, where do you find it? On the left-hand side you will find, under Marketing Insights, you'll see Traffic Analytics. You can also find it under the main Analytics as well, Traffic Analytics is there. Any of the two.

 What is Traffic Analytics? I'm not even going to lie here; I didn't even know this existed. At one point I was flabbergasted. We all know that in general when you go to SEMrush and you do a generic overview it gives you a rough estimation of the traffic to a website, and I'm sure we all know that sometimes that traffic is not always that accurate. 

However, Traffic Analytics is a different beast altogether. You can look at your competition. There's no point in analyzing your own traffic, that's pointless. You know what traffic you're getting if you look at your analytics. 

Competition for me would be someone like Mr. Matthew Woodward. I'm going to stick his domain in, and it brings up this nice overview of what's going on with Mr. Woodward's website, and you'll be able to see his traffic over the last six months, 12 months or whatever. 

One quick feature I want to highlight, which is pretty good, and I'm sure a lot of you at home will be doing this anyway is doing pitches on Zoom. There's actually a new button on the top right-hand corner here, Pitch Mode.

If you're talking to a potential customer and you've been through some SEMrush stuff or whatever, shown them some data, then Pitch Mode gives you a nice clean background then you could just scroll around and pitch... all the data to the customer, which is quite clean, nice, clean and tidy. 

Obviously, as normal you can click the PDF button and export it as a PDF. But going through the tabs, obviously this is a generic overview, and you can benchmark your website against your competition. 

We can stick in someone like Mr. Matt Diggity and various other competitors here, and we're able to see that the purple line is Woodward, and we can see the red line is Diggity. And Diggity is obviously, as of February, been doing a serious amount of work. His visits to his website are going through the roof. Mr. Woodward's is dipping slightly, but Matt Diggity is doing a lot of work there.

We can see just by that chart that Diggity's doing a lot of work, and we can see if we scroll down the visits. There's a visits tab here which shows us how many visits. How many of them are unique visitors, average visit duration, bounce rate, and you can, as I say, check six months, 12 months or all time. 

However, Traffic Sources, so we can go down further, and it will show us whether it's direct traffic, referral traffic, search traffic, social traffic or paid traffic. We can see here that both Matt Diggity and Matthew Woodward are doing a hell of a lot on generic search. We can see that Matthew Woodward's doing a lot more on social media than Matt Diggity. Referral traffic, not far off, 50/50. Direct traffic, Matthew Woodward's doing slightly better.

We can also see where the traffic's coming from as well in terms of countries and what-not. You're able to find out a lot more about what the competition is doing. 

You've also got the next tab along, which is the Audience Overlap tab. Some of them don't really do that much at the moment, but Audience Overlap, there is a 2.94% overlap between Matt Diggity and Matthew Woodward. They don't do the same stuff, although they're both digital marketers, they both probably get slightly different audiences.

Traffic sources was in the overview anyway, but we can basically see search engines, direct, social networks, referring websites like AWeber or whatever, are all parts of the traffic that comes to these guys' websites. So, you can see all sources, referring sites, search engines and social networks. You can break all of that down using those tabs there, and that's what traffic sources does for you. 

Top Pages, is the top pages. We can see the top pages and some stats based on those top pages for a competitor. You can input a whole bunch of your competitors in here and find out which pages are driving the most traffic and obviously replicate that for yourself. Obviously, Matthew Woodward's homepage is the main one, but after that, it says Link Building Strategies, which are driving a whole bunch of traffic. And if you've not got link building strategies page, you maybe want to start getting one.

Now, over here on the right-hand side you see table settings. If you want to export bits of this data or eliminate bits of it, you just untick the ones that you don't want to show up on that table and export as you please. 

You'll be able to see I've extracted a lot of stuff there, and it's only giving you unique page views and unique visitors. You can go on and add whatever else you want to show a potential customer. You can eliminate some of the data as well, as we know, sometimes too much data makes your job as a salesperson a hell of a lot more difficult with some of the customers out there. Be careful what you show them, and just show them what they need to see.

Geo Distribution; this gives you an idea of where a lot of Matthew Woodward's traffic comes from, and we can basically scroll down and see all the percentages. Again, you may want to tailor your website to target some of these audiences. That is the global traffic distribution tab.

Destination Sites; you'll be able to see some of the stuff on there that Matthew Woodward has as destinations on his website. As I said, he does a lot of stuff with WPX Hosting. He's done a big case study as to why he uses it, WPX Hosting because he's had lots of other failed hosting companies try to manage his website online. You'll be able to see that's top destination pages there on his website. Also, if a guy's got subdomains, which Matthew doesn't, you're able to analyze some of the stuff on there. 

And Bulk Analysis, you can analyze a whole bunch of this stuff. Up to 200 domain names, just enter one per line and you can do a bulk analysis of this in Traffic Analytics if you like.

Now, there's a couple of other little tabs just below Traffic Analytics, which are still integrated into the tool. I'm just going to quickly talk through them as well. You can customize your market here with the blue button. 

I'm just going to analyze a couple of websites here: diggitymarketing.com and neilpatel.com. It'll be able to show us based on these three domain names, a whole bunch of data. Traffic generation strategy, social media distribution strategy, and a whole bunch of other stuff. We can analyze all of that market data there, and we can also look at other relevant websites, and what traffic they're getting.

There's two tabs here. There's All Market and a Narrow Focus. Now, I think that's self-explanatory. It's going to give us websites that are similar to Matthew Woodward. You've got Search Engine Journal, BlackHatWorld, crazyegg.com and a whole bunch of other websites, and it's definitely an idea of what traffic these websites are actually generating. And it may surprise you, there's websites here like BlackHatWorld, for example, getting 750,000 hits a month, of which, it's all a mixture of all different types of traffic. 

If you click Narrow Focus, you'll be able to see that it's a bit more tailored towards the things that Matthew Woodward maybe talks about in his website as well. We've obviously got SEMrush, Moz, and a whole bunch of other stuff on there. Robbie Richards, I'm just scrolling through to see what else is on there. 

There's a whole bunch of information that you can get from the Market Explorer. It's just exploring your market and giving you an overview as to who's doing what, and how well they're doing, and who's getting the best search traffic.

The traffic as far as I'm concerned is fairly accurate based on my own website, but you can also look at Traffic Rank here, and you'll be able to see some of the big websites that are out there. You can do this by localization, you can do it all over, all regions or I can put this down to United Kingdom. 

I'm going to narrow down to the United Kingdom, and it's going to show us some relevant websites and what traffic they're getting as well. They're not totally relevant, but it's got Google, YouTube, Facebook. Whether it's desktop, mobile, unique visitors, bounce rate and all that kind of stuff. You can scroll through this and you can see how well people are really doing in terms of big websites out there.

I think overall the Traffic Analytics tool, you can get a lot more from it than just generically looking at people on SEMrush and seeing what traffic they get. You can actually see where it comes from, and it's very simple and easy to use. You simply put the competitor's domain name in, and then you can look at other ones if you want to analyze two or three at the same time. 

That is the Traffic Analytics tool, just a generic overview of it. Sam is going to go through the tool in more detail. I didn't want to go into too much in terms of details and stats figures because that's Sam's job, I'm just showing how the tool works.

A Deep Dive Into Analyzing Your Competitors’ Traffic

Sam: We're going to do a little bit of a deep dive into some different ways that we use the Traffic Analytics tool for our current clients. The first kind of, not client, but type of set I want to look at, we do have a client in the auction space. They do a lot of fine art, luxury, property, jewelry, “auction-ey” things. And one of the biggest competitors that we have is a company called Heritage boutique auction house.

One of the things that we always want to look at is first, where do we rank relative to them? A couple of the other competitors I can add here, just pretending we work for Sotheby's, is I can always look and say, okay, just like Craig showed you, here I've added both to my benchmark. I can look at my visits, and I can also look at this over time. Here you can see I've got a six-month view, and nothing too exciting except for in March I'm looking at a pretty significant uptick.

And if I want to go back, I can go all the way back up to about end of 2016. I've got a robust dataset, and the one thing I always think is interesting for our clients is looking and pairing some of this SEMrush data with some of our other competitive intelligence data. 

Sometimes we'll use a site like Moat, or we'll look at the Facebook if we see a significant amount of traffic from social using this “Traffic Sources”, and I see an uptick in a month, we might go back to the Facebook ads library and say, "Okay, what were you running then? What creative was working?"

This is a really easy way for us to understand how things have evolved over time, as well as how can we take what looks like a spike and turn that into competitive intelligence? One way to do that is to look at the advertising campaigns in the market using a secondary tool, or even publicly available social data, but that's one option. We've got plenty more. 

If I want to shrink this down now to just a simple year, I can see that in September I saw an uptick, and then again in March. One feature I hope SEMrush adds at some point is a notations feature, just so we can mark this up, but anyway, very exciting.

The next area that I want to focus on here is, honestly, the company info is incredibly helpful, especially if we're looking at different competitors going all the way down to the end of the page. It's powered by Crunchbase. Before this was integrated, one of the things that we subscribed to was Crunchbase. Just because this has now been integrated and we can use it for a lot of the same purposes, we were able to reduce a cost, which as an agency was cool, and we still got the majority of the data.

Let's dive in a little bit further, and let me add in a few more of our competitors that we're all aware of. We've got Christie's, which everyone's heard of, we've got Sotheby's, which everyone has heard of, we've got Heritage. Doyle's a little small, but we can do Skinner's, that's a Boston-based auction house. 

When I add all these, one of the first things I look at on the overlap is how big of a unique audience does our competitor have? Where are we relative to that? And then how big are these overlaps?

In this particular case, you can see that the overlaps are very small, and this is largely a product of regionalization.  I can't get more specific than the United States, but it still gives me a good idea of how big the total market is, and potentially some options that we have for pursuing that traffic. 

Now, once I've identified, okay, “this is our overlap, this is what our audience looks like”, my next step is usually to head over to the Market Explorer. And one of my favorite features here is this growth quadrant, because it helps me really identify, who are our market leaders, who are our followers, and then, more importantly, scrolling down, where are those in-market audiences? Because that's what's going to inform a lot of our marketing for this.

Once this populates, we're going to basically see our market leaders, we're going to see our market followers, we're going to see the growth opportunities, and then we're going to see our laggards. The people that are on the bottom we probably don't want to be like, but there we go. 

Here you can see my established players, my niche players, my market leaders worth point, which I've honestly never heard of, and you can always get rid of a competitor and it will resize the graph. And the US Mint, for instance, nope.

This gives me a pretty good understanding of where Heritage, the auction house we're looking at based in Texas falls, as well as maybe where it falls next to these other two players. Neither of these are actually auction houses, they're platforms that use other auctioneers. I can see that really, we're in pretty good company right now, and if I expand this out to 20, once again, you can see that we are in a relatively strong position as a leader or game-changer. 

Share of Visits gives you a sense of the total traffic in the competitive set, where is it and where are we? Right in the middle, that's okay, and you can always add any of these to a unique competitive list. But where I think Share of Visits gets really interesting and exciting is when we start breaking it down, not just from total because the average hides the insight, but let's get into specifics. 

Social, how are we doing from a social standpoint? We moved up two ranks, that's good. That's an area of investment, and how is our traffic generation strategy related to the total market? Here you can see social, we are a little bit below the market. 

But an area where it looks like we're leading is referral, and I can always look at the referrals and verify that data. Other interesting features tend to be our spikes and where are things going in terms of audience behavior. What I can see here, my audience tends to be predominantly older, and they tend to be predominantly shopping for these niche products.

One of the insights that I would take from this is, a lot of these in-market audiences line up very nicely with my in-market audiences either on my DSP or if you're just buying through Google or Facebook directly, any of those ad manager platforms, you'll find a lot of these same in-market audiences. 

It's enough that you can take this data that you've gotten right here and pair it with what's available in your DSP and very quickly find some of these audiences that your competitor already has.

This is especially true once you've seen this overlap and the audience insights that we're going to go to next as you're building custom intent or custom affinity audiences. I might add a couple of competitors right here: Doyle and Sotheby's, two auction houses. 

I can look, and I can say, okay, if I add Doyle my shared audience is 1.4 out of their 26.7k. Making that investment seems like a pretty good idea. Likewise, if I do Sotheby's they've got an audience of 76,000 and our overlap here is only about 23k.

Out of this total audience of just about half a million people. My overlap is going to be roughly 5%, maybe even a little bit less. That means that if I build a custom affinity audience or custom in-market audience in Google, or I use competitor targeting, I've got a really good chance of reaching new unique users. 

Getting Insights On Your Own Traffic Sources

That's even more true when we go to the top pages, and in the auction space this gives us a ton of insight into what people are actually going for in terms of where's the activity coming from, and even more exciting for this, especially in a set up like this where I can see so many different types of goods. I can see specifically where are we getting those people from?

For instance, comics seem to be coming in via social and direct. Great, that can inform my marketing strategy right away, because now I know if I'm going for comics and I'm trying to get those people in the door, my best chance is social, and I can really target based on that. 

The one other nice feature that I'll often do, especially in an instance like this...exporting this to a CSV, a couple quick consolidations in Excel, and you can all of a sudden get a really clear picture of where this traffic is coming from and what it's doing.

Let's jump back over to our Traffic Sources, now that we have a clear idea, and let's look at our referring sites, because this is going to give us a good idea of within those little sections, where is some of this stuff coming from? 

I can see comicarttracker.com, that's definitely a great opportunity. I can see some New York Times, some syndicated platforms that I can advertise on. I can see our wine, and then I can see DoubleClick, which suggests that we've got some paid advertising going on.

Same thing on social, this gives me a very clear idea that Facebook is a dominant channel. Pinterest is a surprise, but the one that it doesn't usually clarify that is always one to look out for is Quora. It sometimes gets categorized as a search engine, sometimes gets characterized as a social network, sometimes as a regular site, but that's always an interesting one. Reddit the same way, you can see that we're doing some stuff on Reddit, and that's giving us some really good information.

The other thing that I will do especially on our Top Pages report, just going right back to that, is if I see a page that's doing phenomenally well, either in terms of bringing in search traffic for instance right here, I very well might just look at this and say, "Hey, we've got four or five really high performing pages," and then start to try to understand what is going into this page that's making it perform well?

The great thing about the Traffic Analytics tool, especially when compared to the regular domain analytics available with SEMrush is that this is actual clickstream data. It's compiled from a number of sources; it's run through a few machine learning models that SEMrush has developed. It's actually user data; it's not extrapolated data from organic position plus expected clickthrough rate, which is what you get in domain analytics. 

Finding New Competitors or Related Websites

The other really exciting feature that we have is the bulk analytics, and this is an area where you can just enter 15-20 different domains, one after another, and get a full readout. That's gold sometimes, especially if there's competitors that we've identified in the Market Explorer that we're not familiar with, great opportunity to really hone in on them and see what's really happening.

There's a couple of just really interesting features that I think are great, and that we use all the time. One is our relevant sites. This gives us a breakdown of all of the different sites that SEMrush through their entire database has flagged as important or relevant. Some of these are not competitors. Some of these like CoinTrackers, just in the auction space, CoinWeek, all of these, are informational sites. They're sites where our audience is likely to be, but that we might not have thought of before.

When you're advertising on a DSP, and I can look and see some of these all market-relevant sites, especially for a very specific page, that gives me some insight into where the people that are going to these pages are also going. 

I can add these placements into our DSP-into Google Ads-and I can now target and say, "You know what? I know that if you're going to Heritage's coin page, you're really likely to be also checking out CoinTrackers, you're really likely to be checking out Collectors Weekly, you're really likely to be checking out USA Coin Book."

Instead of having to bid against them on a branded SERP, which is going to be expensive. Instead of having to go after them in a low-funnel, high-intent area, I can now take a step back and say, "I know where you are. I can put my stuff out there, let you come to me." That's one, and this is something that anybody can do. 

You can export it, and the great thing about the export is that you can then just take the export and upload it into your DSP. You don't have to type all these out again and spell them wrong if you're like me and can't type sometimes.

I know the relevant sites, and now I can take it back and go to my in-market audiences and say, "Okay, if you're on this site and you're in these audiences." And I can even maybe eliminate my 18 to 24-year-olds, and say, "You know what? Okay, you're in the right age group. You're in one of my core in-market ages, you're in one of my in-market audiences, and you're going to a related site, strong possibility that you are in my audience."

I can exclude my current site traffic, so I'm getting all new people to my site. I'm finding all these opportunities just using the new SEMrush tool, which for most digital marketers out there will give you a significant step up.

Next one that I think is very interesting is the social media distribution strategy. What it will tell me basically is on the social space what's the average, and then what are specific competitors doing, who is owning a specific channel. 

I can actually go to the Market Leader and say, "Okay. Well, how's Deloitte doing it?" What I can see here is YouTube, Facebook, but the majority is LinkedIn, right? What I might do here is say, "Okay, this is good. I should check out Deloitte on LinkedIn, see what they're doing."

Craig, I think does that give us a pretty good overview? I want to be conscious of time.

A Nifty Strategy to Compete for Branded Traffic

Craig: Yeah. Stephen is asking, "Can you please go over the strategy for not competing on competitor brand names directly?"

Sam: Yeah, so one of the things that I like to do, and this is something that's difficult, especially for a number of our challenger brands that are trying to compete for traffic from established brands, the natural temptation is to run search campaigns. Potentially YouTube conquest campaigns, and those campaigns are really expensive. From a search perspective, a competitor branded search campaign is going to be pricey. 

But one of the things we can do especially with this, the Market Explorer, is understand where are the same people that are going to my target site, my competitor site; where are they going for other information?

That makes it cool because it's not guessing. It's not extrapolating. It's about 200 million users' worth of clickstream data, which is awesome. And I can look, and I can find all of these different sites.

 Then what I'll usually do here is I'll export the entire report. I can add these domains into placements targeting on either Google or my DSP. And now all of a sudden, I've got a built-in competitor targeting, but what I'm doing is I'm going after them before they're ever even searching for the competitor. I'm getting in front of the competitor search. That's a lot cheaper, it's a lot more effective, and it also broadens it up a significant amount.

Because if I'm searching for, for instance, in this case Moz. It's going to be difficult for somebody that's looking for Moz to win that search, right? It's going to be difficult to win that moment. But if I get in front of them before they even know they need Moz, while they may be browsing Search Engine Land or Search Engine Watch or Search Engine Journal or SEOClerk, right? If I get in front of them then, now all of a sudden, I've got a really good chance. I can either do that in terms of an onsite placement or by building a custom in-market audience and including these.

You've got two different ways you can do it. You can do a placements targeting campaign, going after people that are visiting these sites because you believe they're qualified, and/or you can do a custom intent or custom in-market audience campaign where I add all these similar sites in, and now I'm going to reach those people. 

Finding A Full List of All Your Competitors

Craig: Very interesting stuff. Jacqueline McMullen, not often we have someone with the name McMullen on here. We don't often get Scottish people in here, but probably not. She's probably got a distant relative from there, but Jacqueline's asking, "How do you get a total list with all your own competitors?"

Sam: If you're looking for a total list, one of the options you might have right here is you can go to the narrow focus, and if you want to export it, you can export either to PNG, or go back over here, go to the full report, to my most relevant sites, and then export. And this just gives you the list of all of the people that are relevant or similar to you. You can also actually build a custom market where you can add up to 20 domains, and then get dynamics of that specific market and always go to your report and export that as well.

Craig: Someone was asking about, they put in their website and there was not a lot of data coming through from SEMrush. SEMrush typically needs websites that have 10,000 monthly hits to be able to actually give that information out. 

And I think when you drill down into certain states, those websites don't have that traffic to be able to do that accurately. I think obviously over time as things evolve, things like that will come into play. 

Traffic Analytics for Subdomains 

We do have Jackie; I think it was Jackie Richmond. Yeah, Jackie Richmond, "Can you please demonstrate using this tool for research on a subdomain?"

Sam: We're just going to go to Amazon real quick because I know they're have enough data. Right here at the top going to Traffic Analytics. You're going to go down to these little file folder tabs and go over to subdomains, and this gives you a printout of all the different subdomains on one of these. 

A very interesting approach that you can do here is then once I have the subdomain I want to analyze, for instance, smile.amazon.com or Seller Central, what I can do is I can go back to the top pages report. If you're really curious and you want to understand what's happening on that particular subdomain page, I can go to my total top pages report and then filter by pages with smile. It's going to give me the objective rank of every single page. It's going to give me sources of traffic for every single page in that subdomain, and I can also see desktop mobile splits.

Craig: Sam, so that was spot on. You can stop sharing your screen now, we are sadly out of time for today. But thank you everyone in the audience who made it along. There were a lot of good people there, a lot of engagement, a lot of questions, and thanks to yourself Sam. That was great insights on how you use the tool to do your research. 

Sam: Awesome. Well, thank you guys. Great to have everybody. Stay safe out there.

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