SEMrush review – is it the best tool for SEO?
As a new user of SEMrush, I thought it would be useful if I wrote a review on how I believe SEMrush can help bloggers, ecommerce store owners and anyone that relies on search engines for traffic to their site. I go through the various tools and reports available and how they can help boost your sites up the rankings.
What is SEMrush?
SEMrush is a very popular SEO optimisation and research tool used by many intermediate and professional SEO agencies and professionals. SEMrush does more than just find domain details, it provides detailed information on backlinks, keywords, ads, organic keywords ranking and so much more. Their list of tools seems to be expanding all of the time as they have several tools in active beta. I had trouble placing this post in one category as it is so broad that it does a lot of things and is not just an SEO tool.
Who is SEMrush for?
Initially, I couldn’t see how SEMrush could help me, I was put off by the price and complexity of the service. It is a monthly or annual subscription and is at the top end for this type of service for even the most basic package. If you are an agency or professional offering SEO services to clients, then SEMRush is a no-brainer subscription. If you are an intermediate user or marketer, SEMrush can open your eyes to a mass of data to help you improve your content and position on the search engine results page (SERP).
What are the features and tools provided by SEMrush?
SEMrush is a large set of useful tools and features and the list is growing. I have only just signed up and have noticed at least 3 major tools in beta with the hint of more coming soon.
The features are broken down into 3 main areas:
- Analytics Reports
This feature has a set of reports to give you deeper insight into your own search and that of your competitors. The amount of data is incredible and this really opened my eyes as to what data is available at my fingertips.
They have broken this down into further sub-categories:
- Organic research
- Advertising research
- Display advertising
- Keyword research
- Product listing ads
These were are a bit foreign to me and I never involved myself in this research as I didn’t think it would be that useful for my small sites. It turns out that I can improve my own site with just a few minutes of research on the competition.
Organic research quite simply is finding your competitors’ best keywords, with a quick search, you can view the words you competitor is ranking for, in which position and the volume. You also get other stats such as CPC, competition rating, number of results and yearly trend.
This is a great tool for researching your competitors above and around you, you can see who is competing with them and you can garner the keywords and all of the aforementioned data quickly in a neat table which you can export.
If you rely on PPC advertising, you will find this report invaluable in your planning and strategy process. SEMrush gives you access to your competitors’ PPC activities including their best keywords, budget, copies of their best performing ads and their Adwords and Bing usage trends.
This enables you to take in your competitors’ previous and current experience and allows you to successfully tailor your ads to achieve the best results.
This is a feature I have not used yet but looks promising as it helps you find other top performing ad networks if you find that Google Adwords is too competitive. SEMrush produces a top 30 report showing the best performing advertisers’ sites and the text and media ads including the landing pages promoted and ad placements used. This will give you a better idea of how to monetise your content.
SEMrush appears to have one blemish in an otherwise accomplished arsenal of SEO tools, that is the backlinks report. There was a lot of chatter about the effectiveness of the backlinks report and how reliable the data was. SEMrush address this by partnering with one of the premier backlink specialists, Majestic. Quite a big statement and very good news for SEMrush users – this move makes SEMrush the best SEO tool available.
This is a key feature to find keywords (love the pun), this report is very useful to find popular keywords, low competition keywords, easy competition keywords and much more. The CPC rates, volume, trend, ad copies are all available and sortable, the depth of information is vast. You can check both desktop and mobile search keywords to give you the best overall picture of your content.
I use this for both phrase match and related keyword search, related keywords is very useful for targeting similar keywords ranking in Google and Bing. SEMrush uses a list of synonyms and variations to the keyword searched.
Targeting long tail keywords is a useful way to get ranked when a user is driving down their search to a specific and targeted level. Long tail keywords aren’t necessarily a long phrase, it could be something as short as a product number or a part model number. Because SEMrush has a fantastic table of data which is easily sortable, you can quickly drill down to a particular set of long tail keywords to boost your rankings.
Another extension of this feature is the 26 SEMrush regional databases in several languages including:
- USA (Google & Bing)
- Hong Kong
Phew! That is a hefty list of databases and a lot of keywords. In addition to the country databases, if you have a multilingual website you are in for a treat, SEMrush offers keyword research in 16 languages:
- Chinese (simplified)
Product listing ads
This feature is useful for ecommerce retailers who are using ads to attract buyers. You can set your competitors on Google Shopping and discover what you have in common and what differentiates your sites. You can estimate your competitors spending and directly compare ranking. You can generate a positions report for your competitors’ domain and you can find the keywords that prompt their ads to list in the search results, check rankings in SERPs and a lot more.
As well as reports, SEMrush has several tools to aid you in your quest to dominate the SERPs and your competition. These tools provide insight into content creation, comparisons with your competition, reports, charts and a tool in beta, Keyword Magic tool. I will go over the main tools that I have used.
If you have a new or low ranking site, it is a big ask to rank for top keywords and going in blind won’t help. The Keyword Difficulty tool will help you find the estimated competition level for the top 100 keywords in Google and Bing. I use this tool to target lower competition keywords that I actually have a chance to rank for. As my sites develop, I can target medium keywords and hopefully the high competition keywords.
With the export report option, I enter keywords and can instantly export to a spreadsheet, in my case Excel (XLS or CSV). In Excel, I can manipulate the data in tables and create quick graphs to help me judge what to target – research is king!
Domain vs Domain
If you have some key competitors above you this tool can easily identify the keywords they are ranking for and their unique ranking keywords. The data is presented in a graphical format as well as in a table for easy reading. I used this for my ecommerce store as I had 2 direct small business competitors, after implementing the data, I noticed that I was climbing on the SERP and outranking them on keywords discovered using this tool.
Keyword Magic Tool
This tool is still in beta and appears to have been in beta for a while, I am hoping it is not limited too much in the lower plan as it is a handy tool. You enter keywords into the tool, SEMrush gathers the data and presents it with all of the important data such as search volume, difficulty, competition but also SERP features. You can then drill down further by choosing one or more grouping categories i.e. “best water bottle” “cheap water bottle”. Long tail keywords are easier to find with your chosen groups as the dataset is smaller and easy to manage.
You can take this further by exporting your chosen keywords to the Keyword Analyser to get more data on these keywords. This can all be exported to other SEMrush tools such as position tracking or PPC keywords tool.
Projects is useful if you have a few sites that you want to monitor and keep on top of. The number of projects monitored varies between the packages, my package (Pro) allows 5 but the next package up (Guru) has a limit of 50 and the top package (Business) has a limit of 200 projects.
Within the projects, you can track keywords, crawl sites, get SEO ideas for your projects, monitor social media profiles and much more.
I have used the Site Audit tool on a few of my sites, this sends the bot to crawl the site and analyse the site for SEO performance. The results can be surprising and very useful. The results page will display varying levels of errors or warnings and how important they are. All of my sites had warnings that needed to be rectified straight away to prevent Google not showing my site some love. I had H1 tag errors, duplicated content errors, several others – needless to say, I got to work rectified all I could straight away.
Once the site is set up in projects, you get emails with updates reports when there is an improvement in the score or a decrease in the score. This provides good insight into how to maintain a site and what to look for when creating new sites.
The social media tools are useful to find out what your competitors are doing on the various platforms and comparing with your social strategy. You can see what has generated interested, got likes and shares and what has gone viral. You can monitor your competitors and your own presence to see what is working and what isn’t. You can follow hashtag reports to post engaging content and discover who is mentioning you or your competitors.
There is also a social media poster to post on Facebook and Twitter, you can schedule posts and do all this from within SEMrush.
The On Page SEO checker in projects is useful as it analyses your site and gives ideas on where you can improve. You receive data that is useful and actionable, your site will be compared to competitors and you will be presented with content ideas, optimisations for your site, backlink ideas and much more.
The standard Pro account is fine for my needs as I only have a few sites and blogs but if you have a lot of sites or clients, you may want to consider some of the additional add-ons to add more to the account limits set on the account.
The Pro account add-ons are captured in the image above, it shows the subscription information and current limits and also the available add-ons.
The list of add-ons available are:
- Pages to crawl
- SEO idea units
- Social profiles
- Social profiles for posting
If you want to add additional user login accounts, you can purchase additional users up to the maximum limit for the plan type. The cost of each additional user is $70/140 per month. The maximum additional users are:
- Pro plan – 1 (included)
- Guru plan – 2
- Business plan – 9
Keywords to track is limited to a respectable 500 in the Pro plan, if you wanted to increase this the additional charge is $60 per 500 keywords to track
The number of projects available are limited in each plan, the Pro plan has a measly 5 $20 per additional 10 projects
Pages to crawl
$22.50 per 50,000
SEO idea units
$5 per 10 additional idea units
$20 per 10 additional social profiles
Social profiles for posting
$25 per additional social profile for posting
per additional location $20
How has SEMrush helped me?
I signed up for a trial just to see what all the fuss was about. The free version gave me an overall view of my sites and gave me a taste of what I could expect with the paid for version. For the trial, you do need to give a card number but you can cancel before the end of the trial to prevent a charge. I would definitely recommend signing up for the free trial so that you can sample what SEMRush can do for you, you can sign up for the SEMRush free trial here.
I wanted to find out what a couple of ecommerce competitors were doing to constantly rank above me on all search terms for similar products. Using SEMrush I was able to overtake them on popular keywords and I have noticed an increase in visitors and more importantly in sales. This has led me to reduce my Adwords budget drastically as I don’t need to pay for ads when I am in the top 3 positions – for some keywords, only eBay and Amazon are ahead of me.
Imagine finding out what your competitors were ranking for and finding out how they got a leg up the search engine results page. Minor changes that you may deem unimportant can make a difference.
Try SEMrush Today!
Sign up for the free trial
SEMRush is a fantastic SEO and marketing tool, there are so many unique features, the service is easy to use and there are plenty of documentation guides and tutorial videos available.
Subscribe to receive the latest posts & offers forSEO Tools
If you are interested in receiving our newsletter on SEO Tools, subscribe to be informed of new posts and offers - save money!