The Traffic Sources report estimates how much traffic (desktop only) is going to a website from 5 main digital channels:
- Direct - traffic to a domain via URLs entered in a browser’s search bar, saved bookmarks or links from outside a browser (such as PDFs or Microsoft Word documents).
- Referral - traffic to a domain from a hyperlink on another domain (as long as it is not a Social Media domain).
- Search - traffic to a domain directly from a search engine such as Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.
- Social - traffic to a domain from links on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.
- Paid ads - traffic to a domain from paid advertisements on Google Ads. These sources include PPC ads in search results as well as product listing ads (Google Shopping) on SERPs.
With this information, you can identify this website’s strengths and weaknesses in their digital strategy. Do they rely more on direct traffic or search? Referral or social? This could indicate their marketing strategy, as well as opportunities for you to either piggy-back off their strategies or avoid a channel that is too competitive altogether.
To dive deeper you can filter the table below the graph to show the specific referring sites, search engines and social networks that the website is getting its traffic from.
Some things to you can look for in this report include:
- What are the top external websites that send them traffic?
- Does the website get more traffic from YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter?
- How does each social network’s estimated traffic compare to the website’s paid traffic?
- Would any of the top referring sites have a reason to link to your site if you made a pitch?
- Does Bing, Yahoo, or an alternative to Google search engine provide significant traffic?
- Your competitor’s most beneficial partnerships (referring sites) on the web
By asking these questions, you can identify which channels in your niche are successful, based on what is working for your competitor.
Then, invest your time or money into the channel that you want to test. Create an advertising campaign for paid traffic, run a link building campaign for referral traffic, build your brand on social media, or improve your SEO for more search traffic.
The websites that send the most traffic to the queried domain through hyperlinks are the referring sites. Use this list to identify your competitor’s most beneficial partnerships on the web.
In the Search Engines tab, you can identify if a website is not only found on Google but also search engines like Yandex, Bing, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, and more. If you see that your competitor is getting a lot of traffic from a secondary search engine in addition to Google, it might be good to make note of that in your competitive analysis and consider exploring a PPC advertising or SEO campaign on another search engine.
The Social Networks list estimates how much of your traffic comes from various social media networks. Because social media marketing can be done from so many platforms other than just Facebook and Twitter, this is a great way to gather ideas from your competition’s top social networks.
Social networks that can show up in this report include tumblr, vimeo, dribbble, github, flickr, last.fm, and reddit.
Please note that each of these tables can be exported to a CSV file with the “Export to CSV” button above the table to the right.