Those of us who look at metrics, day in – day out, have been complaining for years that Alexa is a so-so tool. It serves a purpose, but the data you get from Alexa is not always useful or relevant by the time you’re seeing it.
But a group based in Tel Aviv — Similar Group — has just increased funding by $2.5 million and their site SimilarWeb, well… plainly kicks some Alexa butt.
You may know this company from its browser toolbar, “Similar Sites,” which helps you to find 10 sites that are similar to the site you’re on. Makes shopping easier or even finding data and information when you’re researching. It’s a great add-on for Firefox.
What’s Similar Web about?
SimilarWeb is much more than an add-on. It’s a full website, where you can plug in any domain and learn more about the site’s traffic trends, audience engagement, traffic from referring sites, and much more. Plus, it has a really great interface. It’s updated, clean and easy to navigate, unlike Alexa.
Check this out:
This happens to be an analysis for the New York Times.
I did a search for my biggest client, which I didn’t want to show here, but it was very informative. It told me that the traffic trend is down, but I knew that. After a national incident involving the niche, the traffic went way up. Now that the furor has died down, people are less likely to make a search in that niche. However, the good news is that SEO traffic is up and the trend continues. Knew that, too, but SimilarWeb presents its data so clearly that you can quickly see where you stand, not just for how much traffic a site is getting, but how much traffic from category sources, such as direct, referral, search, etc. And you can see what your subdomains are doing, too. Alexa doesn’t show you any of that.
Does your audience stick and who are they?
It also measures your audience engagement, which is pretty sweet. I mean, if your audience isn’t sticking around (bouncing as soon as they arrive), you’re a) targeting the wrong visitors or b) your content sucks. Either way, it means lowered search rankings for you, so this metric is very important. Analytics calls it your “bounce rate,” but engagement is to me, a much clearer term.
You can also learn where your audience comes from. In the case of this blog, I know that most visitors are from the U. S., Canada, and India. In the case of my client, since that website is only about the United States in terms of legality, most visitors are strictly US based. This can help in an initial look at a site to learn who its audience is, which will give you insights in to how you preform keyword research. It’s also very helpful in assessing the competition.
Where does my traffic come from?
SimilarWeb also shows you where your referral traffic is coming from. If you’re already getting traffic from a site, think about advertising there, too. Your audiences are obviously compatible and it’s smart to capitalize on that relationship. I would, however, find out first what’s sparking the traffic. If it’s a negative review, you’ll want to rethink that strategy. Add more positive content to the Web to overcome the bad maybe? Or advertise on a competitor’s site?
You can also find out what other sites your referral visitors visit after leaving your site. It kind of tells you where you fit in. New York Times readers hit Facebook right after visiting, it seems. It’s part of their morning routine. Check the news; check the friends.
Other useful stats
One thing that Alexa does NOT do is to measure your social traffic. Similar Web does. You can find out which social sites your traffic hails from, what your paid to organic traffic ratio is, and see sites similar to the one you’re researching. Similar Web is pretty comprehensive.
My advice is to try SimilarWeb. You’ll be amazed at how much better the snapshot of any site can be. The drawback is that, like Alexa, it doesn’t measure traffic for sites that get few visitors. So, don’t bother checking your site until it actually finds its audience.
SimilarWeb also has plans to unleash a pro version, which is still in beta. Sign up now to get more information when the option is available. You may feel that an extended version is for you.
Just give it a try. I think you’ll be impressed.