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Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military strategist is renowned for helping his warlord achieve numerous battle victories for years. His greatest accomplishment, however, was writing a book that passed down theories and philosophies of war- consequently assisting subsequent generations against their enemies.
Admittedly, his Art of War script has many interesting philosophies. But, the most outstanding has got to be this:
“If you understand your enemy and understand yourself, you don’t need to fear the outcome of a hundred battles. But, if you understand yourself and fail to know the enemy, you will suffer a defeat for each victorious gain. If you don’t understand neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in all battles.”
Quite simply, the most effective strategies in the business realm rely on understanding your enterprise and analyzing your competitors.
Bottom Line Up Front, here’s the high level conclusion:
High level market and competitive analysis, category leaders, and referral flows
Overall Benchmarking, Google organic and Google paid search based marketing efforts
According to Crayon’s 2018 State of Market Intelligence report, 77% of businesses are convinced that holistic competitive intel is crucial if you intend to beat your rivals. So, you can bet that some of your competitors are already gathering information about your online store.
Well, you can temporarily bring the curtains down on your site. But, that will only slow them down. Your best option here is taking the fight to them. And the primary weapon, of course, should be a comprehensive digital market intelligence tool.
So, how about we look into two of the most notable ones today?
Table of Contents
SimilarWeb is popularly leveraged as a web measurement and competitive intelligence tool. Through its analytics tools, you’ll be able to keep a close eye on your overall business health, monitor developing opportunities, and progressively improve decision-making processes.
The cool thing is- it extends this assessment to other similar sites. The consequent spying process gathers critical intelligence for benchmarking your site’s performance, and learning about proven business techniques, plus new growth opportunities.
SEMrush is more of a holistic suite for managing digital marketing. It basically facilitates traffic analysis of several marketing channels to inform the subsequent decision-making processes.
Then, through its auditing tool, marketers are able to identify possible SEO weaknesses. Rectifying those helps reposition a site in the search engine rankings.
Most importantly, SEMrush will help you gain valuable leverage over a rival competitor’s website by providing critical insight into their digital marketing campaigns, plus subjects that interest your target customers.
First things first. Intelligence is information, and information is data. So, of course, the accuracy of your business intelligence tool fundamentally depends on how and where it collects data.
If you seek to collect comprehensive web information, you’ve got to start with a decent web crawler. And SimilarWeb certainly has one, which persistently scans search engine pages and websites quite extensively.
But that’s not all. It’s no secret by now that valuable intelligence goes beyond standard site data and ranking. Consequently, SimilarWeb supplements its web crawler with a seemingly clever strategy.
It turns out that it also capitalizes on its user panel to further generate crucial user and traffic details.
How, you ask?
Well, by downloading and installing SimilarWeb’s apps, add-ons, and plugins, you essentially become a part of the user panel. Their Chrome extension, for instance, will help you track basic website metrics as you surf around the web. However, it also takes something from your side- your browsing data, which ultimately reinforces SimilarWeb’s database
As a matter of fact, SimilarWeb boasts of the most extensive panel in the planet for web measurement. It’s substantially represented in APAC, South America, North America, and Europe.
SEMrush is built on two things: its keyword database and clickstream data.
The SEMrush keyword database made them famous as a powerful suite for SEO specialists and creators of keyword-based content.
Clickstream data made SEMrush Traffic Analytics possible.
Now, before we proceed let’s get one thing straight. Although the internet is basically the World Wide Web, it’s made up of multiple localized networks- which vary in size, surfing patterns, and overall user preferences. That’s essentially why Google, for example, has numerous local versions, whose ranking is based on localized SEO.
Since this creates numerous specialized information environments, SEMrush decided to take a holistic approach with the entire data collection. It developed several crawling systems to comb through all the search engine local versions, and subsequently establish the corresponding data sets.
So far, SEMrush has gathered globally more than 16.4 billion keywords and 500TB of raw clickstream data from 200M panelists worldwide.
And get this. These are basically the most searched keywords. And the lists are regularly updated to retire outdated keywords then replace them with the freshest terms.
SimilarWeb and SEMrush, unfortunately, cannot access all the information on the web. However, you can rely on them to provide the most relevant data based on the trendiest keywords and traffic patterns.
SimilarWeb relies on its web crawlers and user panels as data sources to generate critical insights. That said, it’s clearly built for high level market estimates and you should expect a wide margin of error.
SEMrush, on the other hand, is built on databases which hold more than 7.7 billion keywords from different areas of the globe. While I might trust Similarweb to better capture the overall size of an industry and the ranking of major brands, I trust keyword data from SEMrush with a MUCH higher degree of confidence. Put simply, SEMrush IS fundamentally a search marketing software at it’s core.
SimilarWeb’s Keyword Analysis function, for starters, seeks to help users identify keywords for optimizing their SEO, PCC, and content strategies.
In addition to that, it closely monitors the progress of various keywords and their corresponding traffic share. The subsequent insights are useful when it comes to discovering sites that are seemingly losing or gaining traffic from a specific set of keywords.
In a nutshell, that means one thing. That the keyword analysis tool is also the principal informer of sites that continue to attract the largest traffic shares from each particular keyword.
Depending on how your marketing campaigns are set up, you can leverage the resultant info in discovering your chief competitors, or potential content and backlink partners.
Now that sounds good overall. But, what exactly does the tool provide? And which parameters does it apply?
Well, the Keyword Analysis tool is accessible through the main menu bar of the dashboard. After entering and searching a specific keyword, the system allows you to specify the applicable time frame, plus the country of ranking.
You’ll notice that the results are displayed in terms of the corresponding organic traffic breakdown. But that’s just the default view. You can filter the results further to view the top paid and organic competitors using the keyword.
That said, you might also want to know how popular a keyword is among internet users. Well, the procedure is quite straightforward. Simply go to the search volume metric.
A keyword’s demand, on the other hand, is best analyzed through the CPC price estimation.
Another feature that makes SimilarWeb pretty special is the extrapolation of traffic trends from various keywords. Through a traffic share graph, for example, you can progressively track traffic tendencies of five leading sites capitalizing on a particular keyword.
And that’s not all. You can still access information about other sites using the keyword through SimilarWeb’s domains column. Then their respective SERP positions are provided in a separate position’s columns.
Well, that’s neat. But, as you’ve probably already noticed by now, one thing’s missing. Other sites aside, how do you even establish the best keywords for your website?
Thankfully, SimilarWeb has that sorted out too. All you need to do is enter up to 200 different keywords and the system will handle the analysis. It even comes with filters for users who’d like to focus on specific time periods or countries.
To top it off, SimilarWeb gives you insights into the best landing pages for your keywords through its traffic breakdown table. Quite helpful in restructuring campaigns around the most effective keywords.
It shouldn’t take you long to find SEMrush’s Organic Search feature. Functions pretty much like SimilarWeb’s Keyword research. The only difference is the fact that this one only delves into organic keywords. So don’t expect to find information about paid keywords here.
Its principal objective is to help you discover the most strategic keywords for your website. And for the best possible results, all keywords are analyzed based on their respective search volume, CPC, competitive density, and overall traffic.
Then guess what? You’ll also get information about other websites that survive organically on the selected keywords.
Closely tied to this feature is a unique tool that SEMrush has named “Keyword Magic Tool”. It goes beyond basic keyword research to focus on the real intricacies that eventually make the difference between close competitors.
Apart from arranging keywords in groups based on subject, it helps users evaluate general keyword difficulty, and determine all the ranking parameters triggered by the keywords. Most importantly, you’ll also view the trendiest search questions containing your specific keyword.
Then guess what? SEMrush doesn’t leave it at that. Such insights would only form the first part of your campaign strategy, then adopting the most promising keywords into your site comes second. And to supplement it all, SEMrush offers a site audit tool.
As the name suggests, the site audit tool does just that. It keenly crawls through your entire site to pick out possible mistakes you might have made on the keywords and other SEO elements. In total, it can sniff out about 120 negative issues that might be holding your ranking back.
Fair enough. But, the most impressive bit is what comes next. After identifying underlying weaknesses, the system goes ahead to throw in actionable resolution tips.
Now hang on a minute. What about paid keywords?
Well, it turns out SEMrush is also well-optimized for paid ad analysis. At the top, you get an ad builder, complete with templates lifted from your competitors.
And here’s the thing. We are not talking about random templates. The fact of the matter is- only the best ones are copied.
Admittedly, this alone has always been extremely helpful in kick-starting a solid ad campaign. All things considered, however, the ultimate PPC weapon is SEMrush’s PPC Keyword tool.
It’s not only critical in determining the most effective PPC keywords, but also resolving possible problems. So think of it as a PPC keyword auditing tool.
All in all, SimilarWeb and SEMrush provide valuable information on both paid and organic keywords. They help users establish the best keywords to center their campaigns around, plus the comparative competitiveness of various keywords. As a result, you even get to learn about other domains using specific keywords, and the corresponding effect on traffic generation.
That said, it’s commendable that SimilarWeb goes ahead to point out ideal landing pages for your keywords. Nevertheless, the winning shot goes to SEMrush. Although they match up to each other in keyword research, SEMrush manages to reinforce everything further through its site audit tool, Keyword Magic Tool, plus PPC Keyword Tool.
By the time you launched your e-commerce business, you probably knew all your primary competitors. Let’s face it. It doesn’t take much to discover the dominant players in a selected online space.
That notwithstanding, SimilarWeb will still do some digging for you using its standard search algorithm. Then it’ll generate domains that are similar to your online business. From that alone, you might pick up several notable competitors that might have fallen off your radar.
Well, knowing your competitors is important. But, what’s even more critical is the next step- learning about them.
For that, SimilarWeb offers a benchmarking feature which compares your site against any rival domain by page views per visit, bounce rate, time spent on site, and overall visits.
Now that’s how you’ll be able to assess how your site is fairing compared to its competitors. Think of it as a popularity index of some sort.
The next thing you’ll need, of course, is to improve your relative position. And to help you out, SimilarWeb provides organic and inorganic keyword analysis for any website. You’ll even access data about the less-known organic search keywords that are usually not provided on Google Analytics or Search Console.
Then to find out more about the keywords, the system generates the trending terms that your competitors have been riding on. Your rivals won’t like the fact that you’ll also be able to track the subsequent amount of traffic generated, plus all search ads connected with the respective keywords.
And you know what? SimilarWeb also goes into the finer details about your competitors’ individual web pages. Consequently, it reveals the trendiest content visitors love, plus the most frequented areas of various websites. If you still want to know more, you can follow the trail to assess your competitors’ conversion funnels, approximate conversion rates, and monitor their primary traffic generation campaigns.
And speaking of traffic generation, SimilarWeb has just the right tools for unveiling the lead baits other domains are leveraging- display, social, search, and referrals. This is particularly invaluable because it significantly informs your hunting strategy.
Interestingly, SimilarWeb even goes beyond your rivals’ domains. It tracks their audiences to establish other sites they access in the same browsing session. This eventually helps you discover prospective publishers, affiliates, retargeting lists, and traffic.
SEMrush is deservedly a James Bond of some sort. To win you at first sight, it provides you with a bigger picture overview. We admitted earlier that normally you know all of your competitors in the niche; however, there are cases like entering a new market, courting an agency’s client from a new industry or assessing investment perspectives. For all of them, you need to get a top view of a market fast.
This is what a brand new tool by SEMrush can help you with. Market Explorer supplies data on top players, seasonal trends, and in-market audience demographics and interests for the chosen industry.
Next step, you can choose up to five competitors and benchmark their website performance metrics against each other with Traffic Analytics.
Comparison of overall Traffic Volume, user engagement metrics, and main Traffic Sources — wait a minute, this is just the Overview tab! True killer features hide in further tabs. Look at Audience Overlap, for example, that allows you to see if the same visitors go to several platforms (or not) and make conclusions on how companies win and lose their audiences or what media you’d better choose for placement.
And, if you’re especially curious about your competitor’s conversion funnel and top-performing content (we bet you are), there is the Top Pages report that lets you take a peek on this. Below, we’ve found out what articles are the most popular on the Huffington Post website — just to test the feature.
A quick (and important!) note: Top Pages really gain an extra point for SEMrush as SimilarWeb doesn’t have a similar feature in their arsenal.
All these stats are based on website traffic data, and all you need to do to get them is to enter one company’s domain.
Looks quite impressive, right?
Closely related to all that is an additional traffic analytics function, which SEMrush provides to divulge juicier details about your rivals’ campaigns. You can capitalize on it to discover all about various audiences, including their location. Other than that, you’ll be able to see and assess the efficacy levels of your competitors’ SEO, link building, and search campaigns.
To top it off, SEMrush also exposes what your competitors are spending on ads. And that comes with information about the leading paid search rivals, plus their corresponding primary keywords, campaign framework, and overall PPC activities.
Then here’s something extra. It turns out SEMrush also offers social media analytics to spy on your rivals’ social engagement strategies.
Going by the features we’ve seen here, it’s quite obvious why competitive intelligence is considered SimilarWeb’s and SEMrush’s fundamental objective.
They have you covered when it comes to keywords your competitors are using for organic and paid search. Plus, of course, strategies other sites are leveraging on their ad campaigns and content marketing.
Another striking resemblance is the benchmarking feature, which systematically compares websites by parameters like amount of traffic, bounce rate, session duration, and more.
The most invaluable information, overall, is obtained from their traffic analytics. They both help you discover critical details about your competitors’ audiences- which ultimately informs your countermeasures.
That said, SimilarWeb wins points over SEMrush in deeper webpage and session analysis. It helps you discover additional information about your competitors’ pages and their traffic’s surfing sessions. However, SEMrush compensates for that by revealing your rivals’ ad spending and social media marketing strategies.
All in all, we can agree that competitor analysis is one heck of a neck to neck contest. Too close to call.
SEMrush has rolled out a new feature (one that I wasn’t aware of previously) which specifically provides traffic analysis, just like Similarweb.
The best way to describe how it works is to SHOW an example below of the Traffic Analytics module in action.
For this example, I wanted to figure out what blogs were sending traffic to AthleticGreens.com (a program we work with on one of our sites).
And then we can drill down to the specific referral sources (and toggle by channel, if desired and depending on our business model):
My favorite feature about SEMrush Traffic Analytics is being able to filter by channel (e.g. social, paid, search, etc…). This is NOT something I was able to do in my Similarweb package (they also cap you to a set number of results, depending on your pricing tier – I was at $399 per month).
Best of all, you can JUST sign up for Traffic Analytics here, if that’s all you need!
Well, SimilarWeb is not exactly your go-to solution for deep social media analysis. The farthest it goes, as far as social media is concerned, is traffic analysis.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We are not talking about traffic on social media. But rather, traffic generated from social media.
Through the Website Analysis tab, one of the traffic sources you’ll be able to track is social. It unveils details about the amount of social traffic directed to a specific site within a selected period.
More specifically, the report discloses the total number of visits from social sources, the referring social pages, plus the corresponding traffic share.
Not bad. But, to be honest, it’s not as comprehensive as we’d like it. There’s more to social media.
SEMrush, on the other hand, is comparatively lethal in social media analysis.
For starters, it provides information about the traffic generated from various social media sites. But that’s nothing compared to its star tool here, known as the Social Media Tracker.
This tracker is not just about your social media marketing strategies. It also concerns itself with your competitors’ social channels. Consequently, you’ll be able to tell what they do on social media, the content they are posting, how often they post, and the most effective engagement practices.
Basically, all the critical pieces of information you need to boost your entire social media campaign.
SEMrush wins hands down in social media analysis.
While SimilarWeb only explores the traffic generated from social media, SEMrush digs deeper into the social media pages to disclose important details for informing your social strategies. In addition to your rivals’ social media activities, you’ll be able to keep tabs on their content, posting frequencies, plus proven engagement best practices.
Admit it. It’s pretty obvious SimilarWeb and SEMrush mean business here. Their feature offerings are pretty solid, to say the least.
Overall, they both conduct competitor analysis and subsequently provide in-depth data on SEO, PPC, traffic size, plus traffic sources. Then, to further reinforce your competitive strategy, they also offer site analysis tools for establishing and tracking organic and inorganic keywords, ads, plus KPIs for various traffic channels.
However, and rather Interestingly, SEMrush dives deeper into site analysis through its auditing tool. Apart from identifying critical SEO problems, it suggests possible solutions based on ranking algorithms and proven best practices.
Beyond that, SimilarWeb’s and SEMrush’s individual approaches take different paths when it comes to specialized segments. While SEMrush delves into social media analysis, SimilarWeb chooses to power mobile app marketing through its assessment of the two leading app markets- Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
SEMRush is My SEO Swiss Army Knife I use a LOT of tools. Probably more than I need to. There are a few that are truly indispensable. I have a SEMrush tab open EVERY day as I work. Keyword searches, technical audits, competitor analysis? It does it all. Try it out for free.
As you start off, you’ll be pleased that SimilarWeb offers a free package. And yes, it’s completely free. Certainly, a much-needed option since we’ve seen quite a lot of 2-4 weeks long free trials in this space.
However, here’s the kicker- it turns out that the free package is only useful for three months. It’s fairly useless beyond that point. But, on the bright side, 90 days is adequately sufficient for testing out the service’s capabilities.
Upgrading moves you to the Enterprise package, which is made up of custom plans. Instead of tying you down with a static plan providing extra features that you might not even need, SimilarWeb allows you to customize the features based on your specific needs. Consequently, you end up saving money in the long run.
That said, here are the details:
Enterprise- Custom Plans
Sadly, SEMrush doesn’t offer a free package. The best you can get here is a free trial, which only runs for 7 days. UPDATED: We were actually able to negotiate a 14 day extended trial for our readers using this link here!
Beyond that, the subsequent plans have been structured according to the standard market usage scales. There is one developed for startups, another with provisions for small and medium businesses, while the next is adequate for marketing agencies, and the costliest plan can be customized for enterprises.
Enterprise package is personalized for large enterprises based on their respective needs.
SimilarWeb would be overwhelmingly preferred by beginners because of its free package, which is essentially practical for three months. SEMrush’s free offer, on the other hand, is limited to 14 days.
It’s also commendable that SimilarWeb is willing to negotiate the price based on the specific features you choose to address your needs. Although SEMrush has structured its plans according to popular usage patterns, they might feel static for users with special needs. Only the largest enterprises have the benefit of negotiating for custom provisions.
Here are a few things we do know, SimilarWeb relies on its web crawlers and user panels as data sources to generate critical insights. It identifies suitable ideal landing pages for various keywords.
SEMrush is built on databases which holds billions of keywords from different areas of the globe.
|SimilarWeb||• It gives data for every site that you visit|
• Traffic source data helps you see SEO strong sites
• Accurate data and competitor's analysis
|• Detailed analysis such as total visits and traffic share|
• Audience and demographic analysis
• Can improve the SEO of your website
• Free version has limited options
|• Free Plan - $0|
• Enterprise Plan - custom made plans
|SEMrush||• Has keyword tracking which shows your rank|
• There is Site audit, pointing out errors, and notices of your site
• Powerful backlink checker
• Historical data if using the paid version
|• Analyzes the SEO of your site |
• Organized interface
• Allows keyword monitoring and analyzing
• Gives data for competitor’s domain
|• Subscription costs are high|
• Additional cost for several users
|• Pro Plan - $99.95|
• Guru Plan - $199.95
• Business Plan- $399.95
• Enterprise Plan - not stated
SEMrush is superior to SimilarWeb in keyword analysis thanks to its extra site audit tool, Keyword Magic Tool, plus PPC Keyword Tool. It also provides deeper site analysis through its auditing tool, which identifies critical SEO problems and suggests possible remedies.
SimilarWeb wins points over SEMrush in deeper webpage and session analysis. SEMrush compensates for that by disclosing your rivals’ ad spending and social media marketing strategies. SimilarWeb offers a free package. What is also great about SimilarWeb is it adjusts its price based on the specific features you choose for your business.
So now what? You be the judge, review your business goals and find out which software will work best for your SEO goals.
Bottom Line: For most SEOs, SEMRush is the better option for keyword based research. If you can take advantage of the 14-day trial for our readers here, it’s a no-brainer to at least test it out.
However, SimilarWeb can be a great option for doing deep dives into entire market segments, traffic data, and competitor analysis.
Further Recommendations on Market Intelligence Tools:
If you’re still not convinced, check out:
For Direct Comparisons of These Tools:
I blog about the tools I use every day because everyone hates hype-mongers. Don't be a hype-monger. I build web assets every day and I know the struggle with choosing the right tools. From SEO to website creation, to sales funnels tools, I've used them all and now I'm here to tell you about them.