Updated May 2019
Being the first marketing tool to focus on competitor-based keyword research, SEMRush quickly became popular with SEO’s and marketers. Today, not so much- especially when compared to it’s closest competitor, Ahrefs. Not only did it underperform if some areas, but it completely lacked the tools needed to properly evaluate keyword competition.
When we talk about ‘Search’, we predominantly talk about Google Search results. Whether it is organic or paid search, companies both big and small are busy trying to take the first few slots of the Google search result. That is how they can pull the maximum traffic to their websites.
Traffic pulling and having a successful conversion rate is the first and only priority for any and every company. Mostly, marketers indulge in Search Marketing. Real time analysis and competitor monitoring acts like a gateway to ways in which more traffic can be diverted to your own website through search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.
Search Marketing is a broad term that branches out into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). While SEO is mostly about acquiring users based on the visibility on search results, SEM is more about pulling traffic through ads placed on search result pages.
SEMrush is a top paid SEO tool that’s helpful for doing keyword research to competitor analysis to site audits.
Increasing your organic traffic is not easy. It takes a lot of time, research and efforts to find high performing keywords. One of the most effective ways to find profitable keywords is to research your competitors.
If you find and analyze the keywords that are used by the top blogs and websites in your industry, you will get a better idea on how to create a perfect content creation strategy to increase your overall search engine traffic.
Here’s where SEMrush comes into play. This will help you easily research your competitor’s keywords, their backlinks and almost everything
In this review, I will discuss about this SEM tool that can be used to research competitors’ keywords – SEMrush, which I have used in many projects. Writing is no more about just putting up what your readers love but also about searching and finding what readers have been searching and putting them into post, so, that it can drive relevant traffic from search engine. Or, putting it the other way, using these keywords, you can drive highly relevant traffic through ads in search engine.
According to a recent Adobe report published on Marketing Tech, the year-on-year growth of Search Engine marketing spend has grown by 12%, with Google being the dominant player.
Way back in 2011, Techcrunch had reported that Yelp.com gets around 75% of its traffic from Google, out of which 50% people start searching on Google and eventually reach Yelp’s page, while 25% search using ‘yelp’ keyword in search.
Before I talk about how SEMrush aids to organic SEO, let us have a quick overview on how SEM is different from SEO.
Is SEMRush Right For You?
It’s great giving my opinion on the different features and functions of the tool, and how they actually contribute when it comes to finding good keywords – but that’s not what you really want to know.
What you really want to know is, should you actually buy SEMRush or is it a waste of your time / money?
Let’s break it down.
SEM vs. SEO
SEO and SEM goes hand in hand, but are very much different from each other. Search Engine Optimization is a technique by which you improve your search rank and drive traffic to your website. Search Engine Marketing is rather a broader term that encompasses SEO as well. It includes paid or sponsored advertisement, ensuring more visibility of your website.
Arguments on which is better than the other are in galleons. Organic SEO is definitely cost effective since it does not incur any spending. It relies more on the content quality and the way you use social media platforms to market your website.
SEM includes various strategies like Paid Per Click (PPC). This is a good way to obtain immediate visibility on the search engines. The traffic is essentially targeted. Most clicks ultimately reach the end of the marketing funnel: conversion. This is mostly carried out through effective landing pages in online ads.
It is entirely need-oriented decision for a company to address any of the two. However, having said that, relying on PPC on a long-term basis might be hazardous idea because, without organic SEO, it is difficult to stay afloat. Needless to say, traffic coming from organic SEO has a better ROI till date.
SEMrush is a wonderful tool that has an impressive updated database. It is a highly competent tool that engages with SEO in a way that adds value to your marketing strategies. Here’s few ways in which SEMrush helps in organic SEO
- It easily helps in finding the relevant keywords. SEMrush effectively gives an idea of which keyword has had gains or loses, which keyword has risen or fallen in the specific time frame.
- Competitive analysis is much easier with SEMrush. You can have a clear view of where you rank, what is your position and the same in terms of your competitors.
- It helps in understanding the growth of your competitor in organic search, and also shows you how you rank, what you need to pay and how good is your search volume.
Features of SEMrush
Find Top Performing Keywords & Landing Pages
Hands down, keyword research is the key to dominate Google. Without performing keyword research, no matter how much content you create, it’s not going to be useful. But finding great keywords is NEVER easy.
Using SEMrush, you can easily find out all the top keywords that are sending more search engine traffic to your competitor blogs and websites along with their top landing pages.
Performing Site Audit
Would you like to know whether you’re hit by Google updates like Panda or Penguin? And want to fix and recover from Google updates? Try SEMrush then. It gives you a list of all the issues your website has, and you can rectify them to a better site performance in search engines.
Performing Backlink Analysis
Want to find out all the incoming links (including do-follow links) of your competitors? Just enter their domain and this tool gives you a list of all the data of total backlinks it has.
SEMrush For Doing Keyword Research
How can I forget talking about keyword research in this SEMrush review? You can find lots of profitable and highly searched but less competitive keywords using SEMrush. So you can use this SEO tool to increase your website search traffic & sales.
Enter any keyword of your interest into SEMrush search box.
Using SEMrush For Finding Keyword Rankings
As the headline says, you can use SEMrush to keep track of your keyword rankings on Google, Bing & Yahoo. You can also find keyword positioning in specific countries and device (Desktop or mobile) of your interest.
For this you have to enter the list of keywords you want to keep track of with country of your interest and device type in SEMrush.
SEMrush has the perfect tools to design your advertising strategies while tracking your competitors simultaneously.
It broadly distinguishes its benefits in three categories-
- Analytic reports: It gives insights into strategies that your competitors are using, whether in paid search, organic search or link building.
- Tools: Helps you do a detailed competitor analysis in terms of domains and keywords.
- Projects: Your global campaign will help you gain all the detailed insights of your competitor- keywords, rankings, on-page and off-page health, and so on.
Finding the right keyword is extremely essential when you are trying to reach your target audience via organic search engines. This feature helps you dig out the keywords that can help you increase and improve your search engine ranking. Along with that, you can also know the content strategy your competitor might be using to drive the organic traffic to their website.
- Know the best keywords your competitors are using
- Discover other organic competitors that you did not list down earlier
SEMrush Competitive Positioning Map shows you immediately where you rank in comparison to all your competitors. You can have a direct comparison in terms of the top 20 in Google’s or Bing’s search results.
The SEMrush Position change Report gives you a detailed knowledge of the domain position change of your competitors as well as yours. In this way, you can have a fair understanding of where your strategies are lagging or what is working in your favour.
SEMrush Advertising feature helps in achieving the maximum ROI from your PPC campaigns. SEMrush gives you valuable data on your competitors’ PPC campaigns, like keywords, budget, campaign activities, and so on. Using these data, you can improve your own campaign and get the maximum ROI possible out of it. This not only helps you avoid certain mistakes, it also saves your time and cost. You cease from burning money in a campaign that gives no or least return.
- Get a close-up of your competitors’ ad budget and strategies
- Scrutinize your rivals’ Ad copies and keywords
- Unveil new competitors in AdWords and Bing Ads
- Analyse keywords and ad texts in around 26 regions and 16 languages.
Get access to the top ranking keywords and the best ones that your competitors are using. Along with that, know how long an ad has been running to have a better overview of how you are doing.
There is no denial that paid ad is extremely competitive. To out beat your competitors, you have to know who are your major rivals. SEMrush provides a list of domain’s competitors, estimation of keywords and paid traffic, and how much your rival is spending on ads.
Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
This feature is important if you have an e-commerce website. SEMrush Competitors report can help you in-
- Defining your competitors on Google Shopping
- Know how many common product listing keywords you and your competitors have
- Know which keywords actually trigger your competitors’ PLAs to get visible in paid search ads
- Get an estimation of how much your competitor might be spending on AdWords in comparison to PLAs
- Use the Domain vs Domain Tool to compare the PLA rankings of your competitors
By generating SEMrush Positions report for a competitors’ domain, you can have a detailed insight on every PLA that pops up for each keyword, the PLA ranking in SERPs, and much more. The PLA Copies Report gives you access to the PLAs that has performed the best for your competitor.
Google’s display ad network is home to a millions of websites. Bidding for impressions in this crowded place is very tough. SEMrush Top 30 report shows the best performing advertisers’ sites along with their texts, media ads, landing pages and how many ads have been used by them.
With SEMrush Display Advertising data, it is easier for you to analyse your competitors’ ads and other leading ads. You can know how many impressions were given to each of these ads, and what is the display ratio between text ads to media ads. These insights will help you have a detailed knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.
Not only analysis, but SEMrush AdSense Publishers Report enables you to discover where exactly your competitors are advertising. You can confidently pick up the highest performing placement and use it to your favour.
Last but not the least, you can also get to know how the statistics change according to the device being used by your audience to view your ads.
Performance of link is completely dependent on the quality of backlinks. SEMrush provides the option of conducting deep analysis of which link is pointed towards your website. Effective backlink checker helps you keep a check on incoming links, how authoritative it is, where is it located, and its comparison to competitors’ domains.
After having this report, you can not only improve the quality of backlink you receive but also discover new referral traffic sources.
- Know whether the backlinks you have received are genuine or spam
- Check for .edu or .gov links so that your website gets a boost in SERPs.
- Know from where your competitors are getting their strong backlinks
- Know whether the backlinks you have received are from images or texts or forms, and so on
- Get the unique IP addresses of your backlinks. Thus, you can know from which location you have been referred.
I personally found this feature quite useful for SEO purpose, because this is the similar feature which we used from Moz, SEOMajestic or Ahrefs.
Keyword Research with SEMrush
SEMrush Keyword Research feature gives you tried and tested keywords that can help you in improving your website rank in Google’s and Bing’s top results. It also provides you with the value of these keywords in paid as well as organic search, and which top players are using them in their landing pages. There are ton of useful data outside Google Adwords.
- Get a complete list of best, tested and tried keywords
- Match keywords as well as phrases. Know about other related keywords
- At times only top keywords may not do the trick. Get hold of long-tail keywords which consequently takes up almost 70% of the total search traffic.
- Breaking the shackles of languages and regions, explore keywords that are region specific.
Pros And Cons Of SEMrush
This SEMrush review will be biased if I don’t talk about its pros and cons, so here you go!
Pros of SEMrush:
- It’s an all in one SEO tool (you can save a ton of money just by using this one tool, you don’t need access to other premium tools like SpyFu, Ahrefs, Moz, Long Tail Pro etc)
- Finding high potential keywords is really easy (as they have accurate data)
- Want to know how good or bad a website is performing on Google? Simply use their site audit tool and you’ll get all the site issues.
- Competitor research is incredible.
Cons of SEMrush:
- The pricing is bit of a downside (but still, that’s a great package) especially for starters.
- You need some time to get used to it. Although their interface easy to use but you need to watch some of their training videos or read some tutorials to get good feel of it.
- Sometimes, the backlinks data is inaccurate (backlink analysis is really great from Ahrefs tool).
SEMrush Pricing Details
After having skimmed through few competitors of SEMrush, it is now time to take a look at the pricing model of this tool. SEMrush is extremely pocket friendly and it provdes a FREE TRIAL before you decide to purchase.
The Semrush prices were increased in 2018 to the following. Please note, you can save up to $800 by paying anually:
PRO begins at $99.95/month
- 10,000 results per report
- 3000 reports/day
- 5 projects
- 500 keywords to track
- 100,000 pages to crawl
- Annual Subscription comes at $999.50
GURU comes at $199.95/month
- 30,000 results per report
- 5000 reports/day
- 50 projects
- 1500 keywords to track
- 300,000 pages to crawl
- 20 scheduled PDF reports
- Branded PD reports and historical data
- Annual Subscription comes at $1999.40
BUSINESS comes at $399.95/month
- 50,000 results per report (for each of 4 users)
- 10,000 reports/day
- Unlimited Projects
- 6000 keywords to track (for all users)
- 1,200,000 Pages to crawl (for all users)
- 50 Scheduled PDF reports
- Branded PDF reports, Historical data, PLAs and Multi-user Management
- Annual Subscription comes at $3999.40
Spying on competitors have become the norm these days. Without knowing what and how your competitors are doing, it is difficult for a marketer to decide on a marketing technique that will not only drive traffic but also enable conversion. When it comes to website ranking, only paid ads do not serve the purpose. Although paid ads are a quicker way to come to limelight, organic search results is what actually ensure yours stability in the market. Tools like SEMrush helps in digging out the tiniest information about your competitors and thereby, improve your search ranking considerably.
This tool is worth a try if you are hoping to drive more and more organic traffic to your website.
SEMRush was the first of it’s kind. A tool that flipped keyword research on it’s head and showed you what’s already working.
It was such a unique and effective approach, that it ultimately triggered a new breed of copycat keyword research tools. In the end, SEMRush couldn’t stay ahead of the curve.
Ahrefs, on the other hand, had bigger ideas. It wasn’t long before they were able to build something that did the same job faster, better and more efficiently.
Don’t get me wrong, SEMRush isn’t a bad tool, and it did outperform Ahrefs in some areas. But when you factor in the sucky keyword difficulty algorithm, the lack of a reliable link index and the inability to do real traditional keyword research… it’s just not worth the price tag.
As I’ve mentioned multiple times throughout this review, I think the following 2 options are a much better alternative than a paid subscription to SEMRush.
If you want to find the most profitable keywords in your niche, you certainly need a tool that delivers. If you want to crush your competitors in search results, you need something that helps you analyze your competitors carefully. If you want to check others website traffic accurately, you need a tool.
Why use a separate tool for every feature mentioned above?
How incredible it would be if all those features come in ONE package. Well, that’s SEMrush for you.
SEMrush is undoubtedly the most powerful SEO tool that helps you dominate your niche no matter how competitive it is. Start their free trial, get used it and you will start loving it.