How to Use SimilarWeb to Conduct Competitor Research

If you’ve ever wondered what the hottest startups in the world are doing to get more customers and traffic to their websites, this article is for you. By reading this article, you’re going to have a clear understanding as to what to look out for when you’re using the free tool called Similarweb to find the insights behind your competitors.

Example 1: Notion

In case you don’t know what Notion does, they are essentially a productivity app that is really easy to use and has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go to similarweb.com and then I’m going to search for Notion’s domain, which is notion.so, and then I’ll tell you what we’re going to see as we walk through the results from Similarweb.

The first thing we’ll see is that in the entire world, Notion is actually ranked 450th for all the traffic in the entire world, which is a huge deal. And also you’re going to notice that they get over 80 million visits every single month. That’s a ton of traffic and that means that they have really done well in penetrating into their respective space of productivity tools.

As we scroll down even further, you’re going to notice that there is a 15% breakdown in the US, followed by serious penetration in Brazil, Korea, Japan, as well as the Philippines. What this tells me by looking at the traffic to Notion is that the bulk of the market share is in the United States. That said though Notion has done a great job as well in terms of getting into other markets at an international level.

Scrolling down into the next section of Similarweb, I see a few interesting things like the traffic sources for Notion in which 88% of all of their traffic comes direct. What this means is that Notion likely hasn’t had to rely nearly as much on organic SEO or other tactics like that in terms of their growth strategies.

This is further confirmed when we look at the breakdown of traffic sources because only 5.61% of their overall traffic sources come from search. So this means that the bulk of the traffic that Notion is getting are people literally going into their browser and searching for Notion. So they are hearing about it from some friends, it might be through word of mouth or through their own referral engine that they might have built into their product.

As you scroll further down, we’ll get into a section that talks about referrals. You can see here that the top referring sites are github.com, bonfiretoken.co, vlognow.me, app.asana and notioneverything. So what this tells me is that a couple of developers or people that are using GitHub for different purposes are sharing Notion as well as some other sites, like Asana where they might be using a prior productivity tool and then bringing their future work into Notion because it’s better for XYZ reasons whereas Asana was better for ABC reasons.

Another cool thing about Similarweb is that it gives you a breakdown as to some of the top-ranking terms that each domain is placed well for. So if we take a look at the search section of Notion, what we will see is that they actually have the top ranking for a lot of their brand keywords.

So Notion, Notion app, Notion download, Notion API as well as Notion templates. And you’ll also see that they being aggressive in their defensive branding terms. So they are paying for placements on Notion, Notion download, Notion app, et cetera. When companies spend money on branded keywords in paid search, it likely means that some of their competitors are actually bidding on their branded phrases.

In other words, another to do list app or another productivity app might actually be bidding on Notion to try to siphon some of the traffic that people might be typing into Google and looking for Notion.

As we scroll further into the social section, we see some really interesting information. For example, 39.2% of all of their social traffic is coming from YouTube. And this makes a lot of sense because if you spend some time on YouTube over the last year or two, you know that a lot of YouTubers have talked about using Notion for their own productivity system. So it makes sense that the bulk of the social traffic is coming from a site like YouTube.

Aside from YouTube, though, you’ll see that a lot of people are also talking about Notion on Twitter, as well as Facebook. 18% on Twitter and 13% on Facebook. So this means that in total, the bulk of Notion’s social traffic is coming from these three channels.

In fact, scrolling down a little bit more, you’re going to see things like display advertising, audience interests, as well as other visited sites and some competitor sites. That being said though, the section that I usually pay attention to when I’m looking at competitors is the competitors and similar sites and I usually ignore the prior two sections.

Hopefully what you can see though, is that by simply putting Notion’s domain into similarweb.com, I was able to gain some high-level insights as to Notion’s strategy that I could then validate by doing more research behind their website. I was able to find out their general traffic trends, find out what they’re spending on paid advertising for, as well as their organic placements, whether or not organic SEO is even a big deal as well as other related things to how they are being shared by other people.

Example 2: Lu.ma

For our second example today, we’re going to dig into the website, Luma. Luma’s doing great work when it comes to activating your community. In other words, if you are hosting any sort of online events, they are a great platform that integrates with major video conferencing softwares, like Google Meet, Zoom, and other things like that.

They’ve really popped up in the last year so because they’re super creator-friendly and they make it super easy as well for creators to monetize events and do all that sort of payment collection, post-event feedback, and things like that.

Going back into Similarweb, I’m going to go ahead and type in Luma’s domain, which is lu.ma. And then what I can see right off the top is that Luma is ranked a lot lower than Notion wise. In fact, they’re 64,000 in the world, which is still really impressive. However, it’s not nearly as much traffic as Notion had.

But what you’ll also notice though, is that their traffic is still impressive. There are a million people visiting Luma every single month on average. And you can see that since December, this trend has grown significantly. So if I were to guess in terms of momentum right now, Luma is doing great as a business because this trend is up into the right over the last six months or so.

Whenever you’re looking at these sorts of traffic trends, if they are going up into the right, it’s a great sign for that business. Oftentimes, for example, if you were to look up some public companies and look for their traffic trends, you can see when their business is getting busier than usual, because more and more people today are connecting to the internet. And as a result, typically when people are getting more traffic, they’re also getting more customers.

So this is really important to highlight when you’re looking at different sites on Similarweb. When you see secondary and tertiary traffic channels that are often distributed across multiple channels, what that tells you is that there’s probably multiple growth loops going on for this business. In this case, because Luma is so based on events by creators, what’s likely happening is there’s a ton of referral traffic in which people that are attending a yoga workshop are probably sharing with friends as well, or they’re sharing it on social and things like that.

As I scroll further down, though, what I’m also noticing is that as I look at the referrals for Luma, the top one is actually coming from Notion. And then there’s also things like scrimba, redefiningxr and lapa ninja and things like that. If I were to dig further into this, I might find out exactly whatthese sites are all about, but what I do know is that Notion one is likely because a ton of creators also use Notion. So it makes sense that these two sites often interact with one another.

Looking to search, I noticed that they are ranking for a few different phrases, aside from just their branded terms. For example, piano classes is something that they’re putting paid placement on. So they’re trying to help piano teachers probably in terms of monetizing their audiences. And if I were to just search the definitions for some of these things, I’d probably be able to find out exactly what it is that they’re placing really well for.

Scrolling a little bit further down, we’re going to look at their social channels. Here you’re going to see that 33% are coming from LinkedIn. So this is a lot different than Notion, right? Because in Notion’s case, LinkedIn was not in the top three, but in this case with Luma, you can see that a lot of it is coming from LinkedIn as well as Twitter. And if you think about it, this makes a lot of sense as well, because a Luma is not going to be something that you are going to get a lot of YouTube-related traffic to since these events are happening in real time with the calendar. And it’s not like a YouTube video that can be talking about Notion at any point in time.

So what’s really clear here is that the social channel difference makes sense with relationship to the two different businesses that we looked at today. In the case of Notion that’s something in which it makes sense for people to be talking about that in a video as they might be explaining how they use notion, whereas in a Luma situation, these are happening more in real time. And so that caters very much to LinkedIn audiences, as well as Twitter audiences that are always happening every day with their feed.

As we scroll down further down the page, we see that they don’t do anything in terms of display ads. We’ll also notice some of the also visited sites, but what I’m more interested in is actually in the competitors and similar sites, it looks like Similarweb is not super precise here because they’re putting things like Unsplash, which is a royalty-free picture site. But that being said though, Similarweb isn’t always perfect when it comes to bucketing the different sites and what they fall into.

Hopefully what you can tell though, is that there’s a ton of deep data that you can quickly get with this free tool on Similarweb. All you need to do is put in a domain and then you can figure out exactly what these different sites are doing in order to get their traffic, and as a result, get customers.

Now there are a few caveats. If you’re looking up a really small niche site, or you’re looking up some sort of local site that doesn’t get a ton of traffic then Similarweb will not be helpful to you. However, in the case where the site that you are looking up does gets any meaningful level of traffic, you will be able to use Similarweb to do some reverse research behind them.

Big takeaways

There are two things that I want you to remember from today’s article:

  1. The first one is that you can always look to free tools to get a quick glance as to what might be going on with a competitor’s website. This is an exercise that you can use with a ton of different extensions and things like that. All you need to do though, is do your research and figure out what these tools are in order to help you in this discovery process.
  2. The second thing I want you to remember is that whenever you’re looking up a website on Similarweb, make sure that you are looking at the traffic sources. Look at where people are getting their traffic so that you can then reverse engineer specifically the growth strategies that they might be using in order to get more traffic and more customers.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to conduct competitor research using a tool like Similarweb.

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