TL; DR: SimilarWeb collects a staggering amount of user behavior data for websites, allowing site owners to gain insights on the keywords, popular pages, referral sources, and tactics that help websites drive traffic. From a single dashboard you can see your competitors’ traffic strategies and even research an entire industry to help plan your content and marketing efforts more efficiently.
Content marketing has become a large part of the marketing plans for many companies, and before just throwing some content out onto their website, most companies want to ensure that content will resonate with their audience.
There are many tools these days to help marketers bring some insight into the type of visitors a site gets, and we got to take a look at one of these tools, SimilarWeb. We also got to test drive the SimilarWeb PRO service for a week to see what sets it apart from other tools out there.
SimilarWeb is not really a PPC or SEO tool, but a gateway to accessing a huge wealth of data regarding user behavior on websites. SimilarWeb’s data is collected from a huge range of sources to be as accurate as possible.
The technology gives insight into site visits, global rankings, traffic sources, outgoing traffic links, popular pages, visit duration, bounce rates, audience interests, as well as competing search keywords, and more. Natalie Halimi, SimilarWeb’s Head of Online Marketing, walked us through a demo of SimilarWeb PRO and answered some questions about this amazing product.
Review Helpful Website Data for Free Using SimiliarWeb
As a free service, the SimilarWeb website is available for anyone to visit and type in a website for which they’d like to see data. You can easily see the global rank of the website, engagements such as time on-site, page views, and bounce rate, and then start digging into even further details about the traffic.
Once you’ve entered the website you’d like further details on, you’re taken to the SimilarWeb dashboard that contains tons of intel.
One element that marketers will find extra handy is the search traffic breakdown in SimilarWeb. You can see if your competitors are using paid search to drive traffic or if they’re focusing strictly on organic search.
You can see the top keywords that are driving traffic, which is a great way to find partners or figure out which websites on the Web are competing for the same keywords for which you’re trying to rank well.
Another helpful section, “Audience Interests” gives an idea of the type of people visiting the site in question and offers other websites that users have visited in the same browsing session.
You should also check out the SimilarWeb free widgets, which allow you to compare the traffic for up to three websites or show the distribution of traffic between direct links, search, social, mail, and ads for any single site.
SimilarWeb’s Data Collection Process for Accurate Results
SimilarWeb doesn’t just use one channel for their data collection. Instead they leverage several different sources to get the best idea about real website usage. SimilarWeb has a collection of desktop software, browser plug-ins, and mobile apps that help them collect real-world data from users called User Panel.
They mix the User Panel data with data from their own website crawler, which scans more than one billion pages a month. They also factor in data from their ISP and partnerships and a direct measurement learning set.
With a data set made up of tens of millions of users, plus high-end servers analyzing tens of terabytes of data every week (with more than a billion data points every single day), SimilarWeb definitely gives one of the most accurate snapshots of user behavior on the Web.
How SimilarWeb Builds Reports With All That Data
“The brains behind the whole mechanism are our data scientists. They are the ones who are building the algorithms. They are the data geeks. They look at the raw data, and they find creative ways to find patterns, and then they translate it into what we see here,” Natalie said.
Website owners can link their Google Analyics accounts with SimilarWeb for more accurate report results. SimilarWeb tweaks their algorithms to continuously become more and more accurate. By using machine learning and leveraging big data, the profiles SimilarWeb is able to create for individual websites are typically much more similar to the actual stats compared to similar services.
“In order to handle a huge volume of data, we have several HDFS clusters privately hosted that process different aspects of the raw data. Each cluster holds about two petabytes of data. We hold the raw data, as well as transitional processing data, in these clusters. The raw data is compressed and backed up on Amazon S3 for disaster recovery,” Natalie said. “In addition to the offline processed data, we have several servers with high-performance SSD drives that function as highly available and accessible caching services for the web servers.”
This is when you should start to get an idea of the amount of data we’re talking about here. Most people never come across the measurement of a petabyte or storage at that scale. To put that amount of data in perspective, one petabyte equals 1,000,000 gigabytes.
SimilarWeb PRO Unlocks Massive Amounts of Insight
While the free data provided by SimilarWeb can help you out a lot, the real power of data is unleashed with their SimilarWeb PRO plan. You get access to all of the data they store for each website, and you can also start looking at industries as a whole.
First, you can see a breakdown of all website data stored. In this case, SimilarWeb has tracked close to 300 billion desktop visits to 19.5 million websites.
In the case of HostingAdvice, we can examine web hosting industry stats, which takes a look at more than 36,000 websites and more than 862 million desktop visits.
We can then look at industry keywords that are driving the most traffic to websites currently.
It’s easy to see why it might be valuable to write about or create a tool for doing domain whois lookups. With three percent of the traffic share of those 862 million desktop visits across the web hosting industry, that’s an audience of nearly 26 million people searching for whois.
With SimilarWeb PRO, you can export any of the reports into an Excel spreadsheet to work with further. SimilarWeb also has an API, so you can get direct access to just the data if you want to create your own reports.
Some other benefits of SimiliarWeb PRO:
- Traffic sources for every website from desktop and mobile
- Top performing pages on sites
- Organic and paid keywords trending on a site or within an industry
- Compare competitor websites and track industry leaders
- Browse industry and category ranking of the world’s top sites
Also Gain Insight on Mobile Apps with SimilarWeb
We’ve touched on the website aspect of SimilarWeb, but they also have a huge amount of data for mobile apps. They don’t rank mobile apps just by the install base of popular apps, but also by how many active users those apps have.
Just like SimilarWeb PRO for websites, on the mobile side you can take a look at keywords that are driving the most traffic to apps. A mobile app developer can harness this great amount of information to figure out what kind of app might bring them the widest audience of customers.
Final Thoughts on SimilarWeb
Anyone who works with websites should definitely at least use the free SimilarWeb tool to gain some great insights into their own website, as well as competitors’ sites.
Users who need to drive lots of traffic or really understand their industry and competitors should seriously consider SimilarWeb PRO — an excellent resource for gaining actionable data to plan your content and marketing strategies.
After using SimilarWeb PRO for just a week, we were able to derive a ton of valuable information pointing to what users in the hosting industry are looking for, what websites they visit, and how they interact with these sites.
SimilarWeb is truly a powerful tool any serious website owner should have in their arsenal to make sure they are understanding their target audience and creating content that is compelling to them.