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How to Estimate Website Traffic Before Building a Website

Posted by in Business Strategy, Digital Marketing

website traffic chart

There are times when you might need to know how much traffic a new website might generate before you build it. Here are a few simple ways to estimate website traffic.

Use Similar Site Data to Estimate Website Traffic

We recently got this question from a client in the nonprofit sector who was applying for a grant to build a website. The grant asked them, essentially: if you got this grant to build this website, what do you estimate website traffic would be? It sounds like an absurd question, right? How would I know what traffic to this potential website would be if I haven’t built it yet? And shouldn’t I be more focused on generating quality leads rather than simply inbound traffic?

In order to estimate the potential traffic for a website you’re building, take a look at similar websites and use that traffic as a starting point. To do this, make a short list of similar websites and run their stats through SimilarWeb.com, a free tool that allows you to analyze web traffic to any website with a decent volume of visitors.

Let’s say you were a nonprofit bicycle transportation advocacy group in Illinois applying for a grant to build a website with trip planning information for recreational and commuter cyclists. To estimate potential traffic, you might take a look at traffic to a similar bicycle advocacy website. This is what you would see:

screenshot of estimating competitor website traffic

This is what a traffic report looks like in SimilarWeb. You can use their free report to generate data on competitor websites.

That’s some great info! But it’s best to take a look at at least three similar websites with varying degrees of traffic. Compare new websites with ones that are more established, or websites with a big social media presence to ones that do little marketing.

Here’s an example from a similar transit advocacy organization’s website with less of a marketing presence:

screenshot from similar web which you can use to estimate website traffic

As you can see, traffic is much lower.

After running reports on several comparable websites, use the stats to make an educated guess about your own potential website traffic depending on where your project falls on the spectrum. Of course, website traffic depends on many things: SEO efforts, PR and promotional campaigns, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, email marketing, how often you publish new content, inbound links from reputable sources, and so on. Estimating traffic with pinpoint accuracy will depend on a much larger digital strategy discussion

However, if receiving a grant somehow depends on estimating website traffic, as in the case noted above, this exercise can help you quickly come up with some reasonably accurate figures. Mightybytes runs project scoping, estimating, and grant planning workshops meant to help nonprofits create a roadmap for success when embarking on a digital project. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Mightybytes is a Chicago-based digital agency and Certified B Corporation. Connect with us on Twitter or get in touch via our contact form.