How Website Traffic Estimation Works?

Various online services can estimate website traffic, offering insights into the number of visits it’s getting. This information is invaluable for competitive analysis, content marketing, and website valuation.

SEO tools like Ahrefs specialize in estimating organic search traffic exclusively. A few others, such as SimilarWeb, provide an estimation of total traffic from all sources, including search engines, social networks, referrals, and direct visits.

It’s important to remember that these figures are always estimations, not exact numbers. No tool or service can give you an accurate number.

So, how do these services estimate website traffic?

How SimilarWeb Estimates Website Traffic

According to their own data, SimilarWeb uses the following sources:

1. Direct measurements

SimilarWeb has access to analytics data from millions of websites. SimilarWeb actively encourages website owners to share their analytics data, and many website owners comply. This allows the platform to show accurate traffic data for these websites and to use this data to predict and fine-tune traffic estimations for other websites.

2. Contributors network

Here’s what their documentation says:

Anonymous traffic data collected from Similarweb products installed on millions of devices, worldwide.

Their browser extension which has 1M+ installs is sending the data about your behavior online to SimilarWeb, after having anonymized it (hopefully).

3. Public Data

Many websites publish publish their traffic reports online for various reasons. Also, SimilarWeb crawls Wikipedia and collects census data.

4. Partnerships

They simply buy traffic data from internet providers, Chrome extensions, software installed on your computer, etc.

Rich data pre-analyzed by global partners like DPSs, ISPs, measurement companies and corporate intelligence firms.

Yes, your ISP might be selling data about your every action on the web.

And you may be paying for your seemingly “free” antivirus with your browsing data.

Then all this data is being processed, extrapolated, and used to train their AI models make estimations for any website.

How Ahrefs Estimates Website Traffic

Unlike SimilarWeb, Ahrefs can only predict a website’s organic search traffic from Google.

To do this, they make calculations using the following data:

  • Keyword search volume,
  • A website’s ranking position for that keyword,
  • A custom click-through rate by ranking position for the keyword.

Here’s an example using real Ahrefs data:

1. Ahrefs’ website is ranking in position 4 for the keyword “search results” in the US.

2. This keyword is searched for 7,400 times per month in the US. Only 73% of searches for this keyword result in a click, so the total number of clicks on all search results is 5,400.

3. The 4th position receives as much as 12% of the clicks, meaning its click-through rate (CTR) is 0.12.

4. Then Clicks*CTR=Traffic

5,400*0.12=648

This is how much traffic the website ahrefs.com is getting from Google for this particular keyword in the US.

5. Summing up the traffic from every keyword a website ranks for in a particular country in the top 100 gives the search traffic estimation for that country.

Nick is a product marketer and a seasoned SEO specialist at Ahrefs. He is also a regular contributor to the Ahrefs Blog, dedicating his remaining time to enhancing the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar.