Let me begin this review by saying No, SEMrush isn’t a magical tool that helps crush your competition. Whether it is a tool that must be used or not, we will see through the course of this SEMrush review.
Very often, users have unrealistic expectations from their tools. The same holds true for an SEO and search analytics tools such as SEMrush.
The purpose of any and every SEO tool is to make life simpler for you and make sure you are able to implement a white hat SEO strategy and monitory it effectively with ease. I wasn’t immune to this misconception.
Very early on, when I started out on my SEO journey, I regarded SEO tools as a manna from heaven that would do my job (read: thinking) for me. Over the course of time, I realized that SEO tools were there to add a level of seamlessness to my strategy, give me meaningful SEO intelligence and give me better control of my strategy.
As SEO metamorphosed into content marketing and became one of the components of the larger digital marketing plan, these tools evolved into feature rich software that offered key insights that are helping us take better digital marketing decisions.
Also, as contemporary digital marketing strategy is becoming more complex, many tools like SEMrush aim to simplify this complexity to help us maximize the digital marketing ROI.
What is SEMrush?
It is your comprehensive feature rich toolkit that gives you drill-down insights and helps you make the most of SEO, Paid Traffic, Social Media, and Content and PR. It aims to be the THE tool you will use to maximize the returns from your digital marketing efforts.
It is also a great SEO competitive intelligence tool available on the market and gives you extensive online marketing info on what your competitors are doing w.r.t. to SEO and whether that is working for them.
I will take you through the various features of the SEMrush tool later on in the article, but one of the reasons why millions of users ( more than 2 million of them) use SEMrush is its keyword research feature that identifies the various keywords on which a particular web page is ranking.
This allows you to zero in on the keywords that your business web pages should rank for, and create and implement a strategy for the same.
This tool offers analytical data on more than 800 million keywords and more than 130 million domains! That’s an awful lot of insightful data that can help your online marketing efforts hit the sweet spot.
How is SEMrush Helpful for You?
SEMrush is a complete internet marketing suite, which includes several tools-in-one for SEO, PPC and Social Media. It gives you detailed reports that help you keep a track of your website’s performance and your competitors’. Use it to select the most profitable keywords, monitor competitors, analyze content and do a health check of the site along with finding ways for link-building.
How to use SEMrush?
If you are a beginner, the SEMrush dashboard can get a bit confusing. There are a number of options for you to choose from and it can take a lot of time to explore the tool. A shortcut is to log in with your credentials and open three tabs viz The Analytics Reports, Tools and Projects.
Explore each of the features in the dropdown list and find out what else can you tweak to get the data you want.
Once you get the hang of the SEMrush tool, it will be smooth-sailing. That said, here are the features you need to use:
What are the Features of SEMrush?
The SEMrush site audit tool is mainly divided into three sections –
1. The Analytics Reports –
The dropdown will give you six main options. All you have to do is select one and put the URL for which you want to conduct the audit.
a. Organic Research
First up is the Organic Research, which is a SEMrush competitor analysis of sorts. It is ideal for mapping organic keywords and creating a robust content strategy. You can clearly view the keyword standings and the organic search positions in a graph and a tabular form respectively.
It lets you gain insights in the competitor’s organic strategy by knowing the rankings on both desktop and mobile searches. You can also compare the keywords based on indicators like search volume, number of search results, traffic, estimate of CPC etc.
It also helps you discover new, organic competitors and gives you a list of lost and declined keywords.
b. Advertising Research
Advertising research is a feature that gives you a closer look at your competitors’ ad spend and strategies. Using this feature, you can track down their PPC marketing activities, best keywords, the most profitable ad copies as well usage trends on two major search engines – AdWords and Bing.
This will save you from conducting major PPC blunders and hit the bull’s eye in every campaign with higher conversions.
This feature shows the duration of the ad’s running, which is crucial to analyze whether or not they earned revenue from it. Furthermore, you can discover new competitors in both AdWords and Bing ads and focus on the “true” PPC rivals (it excludes all the domains from the results, which are not the domain’s real market competitors).
c. Display Advertising
Wary of wasting all your time and money on bidding for clicks and impressions that do nothing in terms of bringing leads or sales revenue for your business? SEMrush gives you the opportunity to watch and learn from the top performers on the Google Display Network!
This feature shows all the leading advertisers’ sites, their landing pages, ad placements, text and media ads etc. And that’s not all. It also lets you discover what calls-to-action they used to maximize user-engagement as well as the publisher’s websites related to their products/services.
It allows you to create display advertising campaigns on various devices and for various countries. Next up, you can compare the data and assess which device(s) produce the most impression of the ads.
SEMrush’s backlinks analysis is one of the widely-used features of the platform. It is an effective backlink checker as it brings the following qualities to the table:
- Checks all the incoming links for a particular URL, root domain or a domain.
- Notes the domain authority and its location
- Distinguishes between effective and unworthy backlinks
- Highlights the .edu or .gov backlinks that can boost SERPs
- Spots backlinks’ geo-location
e. Keyword Research
A lot of people seek the answer to the question– how to use SEMrush for keyword research?
The answer lies in this feature, which provides the most detailed analysis for helping your SEO and PPC campaigns. The most effective keywords and their information for organic and paid research is the highlight of this tool, which also helps analyze the data for mobile and desktop index.
This tool in essence, analyzes the domains ranked in the Google and Bing top 100 for specific search terms and returns the keywords, which they have in common. You will also get to explore varied environments in terms of location and language and therefore, know which keywords to adapt aptly.
f. Product Listing Ads
For online retailers and eCommerce stores, product listing advertising is the best way to attract new shoppers.
This will define all your competitors on Google Shopping, give a list of common PLA keywords, estimate the competitors’ spending on AdWords versus PLAs and give a detailed insight into the PLA competitors; product feeds.
Using this feature is a must if you want to take your online shopping many notches higher by adjusting the pricing, optimizing the landing pages and doing better than your competitors by taking a look at their best performing PLA keywords!
2. Tools –
a. Keyword Difficulty
Do you want to find keywords that have the highest competition? End your search here and now, because SEMrush’s Keyword Difficulty Tool does the work for you! I personally find this tool of great help.
The feature aptly zeroes-in on the keywords that you need to focus on by indicating the difficulty in percentage and this is how you can guess how easy/difficult it is to gain competitor’s organic positions/top 100 positions on Google and Bing respectively.
b. Domain vs. Domain
Need to analyze more than one site? Domain vs. Domain is just the right feature for you. It lets you enter as many as 5 domains (in a single attempt) and provides a list of the common keywords that are on your and the competitors’ domains.
When you get to know the unique keywords, you can always discover other search terms that you didn’t consider earlier. And by using these keywords, you will get a number of chances to make an appearance in the SERPs.
Also, the extensive data is presented in a visual format that gives you a bird’s eye view of everything. For instance, there will be a Venn diagram with domains as the colored circles and the keywords in the intersection.
All the search terms you need will be easily viewable once you click the different parts of the diagrams.
SEO without charts isn’t SEO at all. SEMrush’s Charts is a quick tool for immediate assessment of your competition. There are a number of visualizations (line, pie graphs or bars), which help you view the most important metrics of up to 5 competitive domains at a time.
You can select the metrics that you would like to compare and also, define the regional databases. For each attempt, you can create up to 3 plots.
SEMrush Reports tool lets you collage all the comprehensive data in one place. You can use it to access any data that was generated within the SEMrush tools/reports and compile it by using the necessary widgets.
You can send the regular report and also, save it as a template for the next time or customize them to create elaborate business proposals to meet your clients’ needs. Moreover, you can also keep everyone on the same page by sharing (email/direct link) and scheduling the report.
e. Keyword Magic Tool
Keyword Magic Tool lets you enter the seed keyword and get more than 2 million keyword ideas to select from. Post this, you can sort and filter them by their difficulty levels, competitive density, SERP features and CPC data.
You can also use Keyword Grouping to group them by topics after the algorithm suggests keywords that are semantically related to the initial search. Moreover, you can also send approx. 1000 of the favorite keywords to the Keyword Analyzer in one shot.
This serves as an excellent option for building your long-tail keywords and also, for creating keyword-rich content. You can use it in addition to the Position Tracking service and integrate them with the PPC keyword tool for successful online campaigns.
Note: Most of the metrics that you see here will be in real-time. You can update them with just one click.
You can also estimate how much traffic these keywords will bring to your website by looking at their click potential. Most of the metrics are available in real-time and can be updated with one click. TO get more organized, you can create up to 50 target keyword lists and proceed to allocate them to your clients, web pages or topics.
3. Projects –
a. Position Tracking
Keeping abreast of where your website ranks should never be an afterthought. SEMrush position tracking tool makes it possible by helping you track the website’s rankings for target keywords in both organic and paid results (top 100).
Alongside this, you can also keep a close watch over your competitor’s keyword rankings.
There’s also the option for multilingual tracking campaigns for a location of your choice, helping boost your local SEO strategies.
b. Site Audit
Do a comprehensive SEO-evaluation or check the health of your website with the SEMrush site audit and fix errors at breakneck speed. This will not only help you make the website easy to access for the search engine bots, but also make sure that you provide stellar user experience.
Use the tool to optimize your internal and external links, add missing tags, work on HTML tags, correct broken images, fix error pages, get HTTPS reports, detect AMP issues, etc. It also has the SEO analysis reports, to regularly monitor your website’s health.
c. Social Media Tracker
Your SEO and PPC campaigns maybe on track, but if you don’t focus on social media, they might not give you the results that you desire.
I am able to strengthen my social media strategy with SEMrush.
It offers you the best format for sharing your content. For instance, the top content report will give you an idea about the leading posts that have the high engagement rates.
Compare this data with that of your competitors and get more details to enhance the posts’ performance. By tracking the results, you will get a hang of which social media techniques will be best suited for your overall SMM strategy.
The options are far too many for you to explore, such as finding relevant topics via the hashtag reports, and all of them deliver good ROI, if used correctly.
d. Social Media Poster
Posting on different social media platforms can be a hassle. There may be several social media scheduling tools available on the market for this. But then, SEMrush provides the option in its SEO/PPC tool, which is kind of economical isn’t it?
All you need to do is connect the social accounts to the Posting Tool and schedule or publish the posts from a single tab. Right now, it works only for Facebook and Twitter. But the good thing is that you can add as many accounts as you want.
An easy-to-read table will help you understand which of your content is doing well on social media platforms.
e. Brand Monitoring
Monitoring brand mentions is a prerequisite for ORM (Online Reputation Management) and SEMrush can be useful in this area as well. It drastically cuts down the time to find mention by gathering the online mentions/reviews of your brand and your competitor brands, and provides an in-depth analysis.
The Twitter Tracking service in particular, lets you monitor the latest industry trends. This brings you a step closer to your existing/potential customers. You can also track your backlinks using this feature and gain industry insights.
f. On-Page SEO Checker
On-Page SEO Checker is all about analyzing the Google ranking factors, which affect your website’s performance. With Google making unannounced updates to its core algorithm, this is what will bring you up to speed.
Use it to check every possible sort of on-page and off-page SEO elements. This includes the body text, content relevancy, the H1 tag, meta description etc. It gives you a cohesive list of things, which will help you substantially improve your website’s page rankings.
g. Backlink Audit Tool
Get a complete overview of your backlink profile with this offering. For this, SEMrush uses its own database having more than a million backlinks. This lets you find all the domains, which refer to your website.
There’s also an integration with Google Search Console to help you scan a bigger number of backlinks. But hold on, you can also upload an external backlink lists in the tool so that you don’t miss anything!
You can either remove the toxic backlinks discovered using the tool or send them to the Google Disavow tool using the Backink Audit interface before contacting the site owner.
This tool will conduct a regular crawl of the website every couple of weeks. Alternatively, you can launch the crawl to be done once every week.
h. Organic Traffic Insights
Did you know that up to 99% of the keywords responsible for driving traffic to your website are hidden by Google Analytics? Remove the guesswork and the agony with SEMrush and Google Analytics linking.
This will give you instant access to an expansive list of keywords that every page is indexed for. No more dreary Excel files!
Additionally, each of the keywords will instantly give you the search volume, the Google position, related keyword, phrase matches and also, the amount of traffic that it brings on the page.
You can do away with the keywords with the lowest competition level but the biggest search volume to get maximum ROI.
i. Content Analysis
Quality content always wins over quantity. Keep your content fresh and relevant to the target audience to be at the top of your game. The SEMrush Content Analysis feature comes handy for conducting a thorough content audit.
The metrics provided are – user behavior, the social impact and the websites that link to the content. Apart from the content published on your website, you can also monitor the content you have published on third-party platforms, assess the impact and compare the performance of different content pieces.
j. PPC Keyword Tool
If you want to build a perfect keyword list for all your PPC campaigns, this is the tool that you need to explore.
Use it to collect keywords via multiple channels, optimize and manage the keyword lists, find out and eliminate the cross-group negative keywords (a SEMrush Exclusive feature), get recommendations and lots more.
You can import the keywords from your existing AdWords campaigns, files, get long tail suggestions, merge keyboards to build new keyboard combinations etc.
What is the SEMrush Pricing Plan?
SEMrush has a few plans that will help you meet your needs. These include:
- SEMrush Free Trial Plan
- SEMrush Pro Plan
- SEMrush Guru Plan
- SEMrush Business Plan
- SEMEnterprise Plan
If you just want to test the waters, the trial plan is good to go. And if you are sure about your requirements and know how exactly you are going to use the tool, you can see the price comparison chart to take a call.
Note: It is always better to opt for their annual plans, especially if you are a beginner and don’t have that kind of budget for monthly spend.
What are the standout features of SEMrush to help leverage your brand or business?
- If you are an agency or a firm that needs product branded reports on the go, the Reporting element is by far the best feature of the tool. You can customize the report and easily and efficiently, create professional, data-driven reports within a matter of time.
- The SEO Ideas module in the tool lets you do specific things for each of the pages and improve organic traffic; these are additional ideas apart from the normal audit and get the ball rolling!
- SEO and PPC often go hand-in-hand. As such, having an effective PPC strategy is a must-have for outdoing your competitors. Instead of using a separate tool for this, you can use SEMrush to find paid search competitors, track ads, and generate PPC keywords for advertising purpose.
This saves a lot of your time.
- Content is the key to improved rankings, traffic and conversion. SEMrush helps you identify potential keywords and create content templates for on-page SEO. The templates are generated based on the top competitors’ pages.
- Eliminating the cross-group negative keywords is another exclusive feature as these can be a hassle for marketing professionals. Removing these manually is time-consuming and this tool does it in a few minutes, something that is a plus point when you are targeting big campaigns.
- Local SEO is gaining prominence with more and more businesses going online. You can use the tool to optimize your website to narrow down location-based keywords depending on your geographical location and local competitors.
- You don’t need to opt for a web analytics tool and use it to get thorough knowledge of traffic to the website. This will help you in several of your SEO-related tasks such as knowing where to place the ads and know which keywords drive maximum traffic.
- It can also help reveal the ad spend, which is an essential piece of information. If you don’t intend to invest in Adwords any time soon, this will be your safest bet!
- The display advertising tool in SEMrush is incredibly useful to generate video marketing ideas for your campaigns by integrating YouTube data such as video ads.
You’ll also gain valuable keyword data from the top advertisers on the platform and can use it to analyze the keywords for various products ads on Google Shopping Ads.
- For an instant analysis of a website, you can also install the SEMrush toolbar.
Pros and Cons of SEMrush
- An excellent resource for estimating your competitor’s organic traffic and rankings.
- Offers insightful information that can be used for targeted marketing activities.
- All the keyword tracking and audit features are spot on. Particularly, being able to track the keywords over time for different locations and devices.
- If you need actionable and reliable data for your SEO analysis, this is the go-to tool and you will not need to look for SEMrush alternatives.
- Audit reports are also the mainstay of the tool as they are great for highlighting the errors and optimizing the sites.
- The content generator is a great add-on for those who want to work on the content on their websites as well.
- Backlink reporting has lots of potential for improvement.
- Keyword Magic Tool needs regular updating so that users can get a better idea about the pages that are ranking in the SERPs.
- The sheer abundance of information at once may get overwhelming for newbies.
- Connecting different social media accounts can be more streamlined.
- Can use social media poster for Facebook and Twitter.
- The interface definitely has scope for improvement.
SEMrush’s popularity is continuing to grow with each passing day and I am not surprised. Even when you consider the drawbacks, the plus points of the tool are enough to get you started, especially if you are a beginner. It is an out-and-out SEO tool that gives you the bigger picture and where you fit.
Overall, I love the tool for offering comprehensive information. I rest my case.
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