SEMrush Review: The Complete Review

AMA: Jessica Williams
August 7, 2018
AMA: Chad Mizee
August 10, 2018
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SEMrush Featured Tool Review by OG

 

SEMrush has evolved into a full-fledged Digital Marketing Optimization Toolkit.

With origins as a Search Engine Optimization tool, SEMrush has put a bigger focus on Content marketing with tools like Topic Research and SEO Writing Assistant.

Advertising and social media tools are also increasing with Ad Builder and Social Media Tracker, which we cover later.

All the while SEMrush is getting stronger on the SEO front with advances in its Keyword Magic Tool, Site Audit, and Sensor.

SEMrush is constantly adding new features across the board to its already impressive toolkit. Online Geniuses is proud to have SEMrush as a sponsoring Partner and to showcase SEMrush as a Featured Tool.

In this SEMrush review, we are going to dive into SEMrush, explain various tools, and share several pro tips on getting the most out of it. Let’s get started.

 

What is SEMrush?

SEMrush is a digital marketing toolkit that provides search, social, and competitive insights and analytics to optimize your marketing.

SEMrush covers four main areas of digital marketing: SEO, SEM/PPC, Social/PR, and Content marketing.

 

semrush-logo

 

Benefits of SEMrush

Why use SEMrush?

 

SEMrush helps you become a better digital marketer. It’s that simple. The data and insights it provides are necessary ingredients for any data-driven marketing strategy.

SEMrush provides the following:

 

  • Data and reports you can’t find elsewhere
  • Competitive and strategic insights
  • Site and content optimization tips
  • Trackers for your site, social and competitors
  • Alerts for new info and important changes

 

Who is SEMrush for?

SEMrush ultimately can help any type of marketer whether an in-house marketer, consultant, or agency team member.

With insights on competitors as well as your own site, SEMrush is also valuable for roles outside marketing like analysts, startup founders, and developers.

SEMrush is for any organization looking to optimize its marketing time, effort and resources. It will help your organization become more efficient, insightful, and data-driven.

Walkthrough of SEMrush

So how does SEMrush work, anyway?

SEMrush is constantly crawling the web checking Google positions, backlinks, and social media activity.

You can add to the information they collect by connecting your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.

But raw data by itself isn’t so useful so SEMrush cleans and organizes all this data into actionable information and reports. SEMrush knows how to present the data in useful ways for marketers.

The end result? A comprehensive source of information for your marketing strategy.

Navigation and user interface

Use the left-hand panel as your guide. The main sections are Domain Analytics, Keyword Analytics and Gap Analysis.

Another way to navigate SEMrush is to use dropdown with the 4 toolkits based on the type of marketing project you are working on:

 

semrush-review-navigation

That is the way we’ll navigate for this SEMrush review.

Rundown of SEMrush features

Dashboards (Home and SEO)

The Home Dashboard highlights the most important information from your SEMrush account. Once you’ve setup a site audit, position tracking, and domain analytics, SEMrush will continuously update these and automatically push the newest information to your dashboard.

The new SEO Dashboard has been carefully organized to highlight key organic and search analytics metrics. We are big fans of this dashboard as it showcases all the most important information that we need to report out on.

It pulls in a lot of data from Google Analytics and Search Console (if you have those connected which is highly recommended) into SEMrush so you will not have to check those accounts as much saving time.

From our review of SEMrush, one of the favorite graphs we found was the Visits graph. It shows both the proportion of each channel and changes over the last 12 months. It’s a very clear way to present this information.

semrush-review-seo-dashboard

The updates from SEO Audits are key because you will be alerted to any new errors or warnings that need attention from the regular technical audits that SEMrush runs in the background.

SEO Toolkit

Site Audit

One of the first things most SEOs do on a new SEO project is run a site audit. SEMrush’s site audit crawls any domain you provide looking for technical issues that may affect your SEO efforts. It’s a check up on the health of your site.

 

semrush-site-audit

 

The SEMrush Site Audits checks hundreds of components including:

  •       Meta descriptions and title tags
  •       Internal and external links
  •       Broken links
  •       Images without alt text
  •       Error pages
  •       Duplicate content
  •       And much more…

After the audit, you will be provided with a report that lists and prioritizes the most important issues to address and how to go about it.

 

Pro-tip: Internal linking is an important part of SEO. Check the Internal Linking report in the Site Audit to get your Internal LinkRank Score, a measure of which internal pages are most authoritative based on their internal links.

 

On Page SEO Checker

The on-page SEO Checker is essentially another audit tool but more focused on the front-end and on-page aspects of your site. This tool provides suggestions for SEO strategy, backlink outreach, semantic working, and content marketing. It even compares your site to Google’s Top 10 performers!

Keyword Magic Tool

SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool offers all the pertinent keyword research statistics SEMrush has to offer.

Here you will get the main keywords metrics such as volume and keywords difficulty. Volume is the times a keyword is searched each month. Keyword difficulty is how difficult it is to rank for a keyword based on the authority and backlink profiles of the current sites ranking.

When you are doing keyword research, you start with a seed keyword, typically the main topic keyword the new page will cover. But you really want to get a sense of the overall landscape of how people search for the subject you are tackling. One of the best ways to make sure you are not missing any important aspects of the subject is to look at the phrase match and broad match keyword reports.

 

semrush-review-magic-keyword-tool

These helpful reports tell you all the keywords related to your seed keyword. Phrase match keyword are phrases that have your seed keyword phrase in it plus additional words. Broad match keywords are related keywords that have parts of your seed keyword phrase or synonyms. You can use these related keywords for expanding your copy, writing content, and structuring your article. Any keywords can be added to Keyword Analyzer, which is a list builder of related keywords that you save and analyze as a group.

Pro Tip: To find great content ideas for new articles click the “Questions” button to find common search queries in the form of a question. Answer these in a new article.

 

The SEMrush Magic Keyword Tool has the ability to exclude (or include) keywords that appear in results but are not relevant. Other filters help limit results to a certain range of monthly volume or difficulty scores. It seems they’ve thought of everything.

There is also a really valuable tree menu of related topics on the left which you can collapse or expand. If you are looking to flesh out an article or group of articles with more content, this is a great place to find keyword inspiration.

The Keyword Magic tool also shows a count of SERP features and a cached SERP result for each keyword in the table. SERP features, by the way, are those special information boxes found throughout search results. SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page.

Organic Research

Organic Research is the go-to section of SEMrush to find organic traffic and search information.

Here they list every organic search position that you rank for in the top 100. This is great because you don’t need to tell SEMrush what keywords you want to check for because they already know from the crawling and research what keywords you rank for. You might find that you are ranking for keywords that you didn’t even think you had relevant content for!

 

Pro-tip: Organic Research lists the keywords you are ranking. Filter on all keywords you are ranking in positions 11-15 for (barely-missing front page). Update these articles using tips from the SEO Content Template and more internal linking to push them to the front page.

 

The Position Changes report keeps you informed about keywords your site recently cracked the top 100 for (or exited) as well as the biggest improvers and decliners.

 

Pro-tip: Don’t only research your keywords climbing in the rankings. In the Position Changes report, you should keep an eye on which keywords you are slipping down the rankings. May be time to update the content using SEO Content template and other tools.

You can also find competitor information. SEMrush automatically calculates your competitors based on the number of keywords, either organic or paid, you both have in common.

Note: For most screens in SEMrush you can choose mobile or desktop as well as which country to show information for. You are also able to export into various file formats.

One of the most popular parts of SEMrush is the Pages report. The Pages Report includes the most influential pages of your site (or any site) based on the keywords it ranks for and how much associated traffic those ranking positions bring. This is great for getting content inspiration from the success of your competitors or doubling down what is working for you.

 

Pro-tip: Get great content ideas from the Pages report. Pull up your competitor and look up what content is performing the best. Use that as inspiration for future content on your site.

 

Position Tracking Tool

Your ranking positions (the number you rank for in Google for each keyword) are fleshed out with important information such as monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, and recent position change. Great stuff.

 

positing-tracking

But position rankings are not set in stone…they change frequently and you want to keep on top of the trends.

 

SEMrush Sensor

One of the most unique metrics in SEMrush is SEMrush Sensor. This metric measures the volatility in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). An SEMrush sensor rating around 1 indicates rankings are staying steady with few changes. An SEMrush sensor rating closer to 10 means that ranking positions are changing very rapidly. This could be an indication that a Google Algorithm change is in motion.

Sensor also tracks which SERP features are trending up or down. Google might be favoring a specific SERP feature recently so it would be smart to start optimizing for that SERP feature on your pages.

 

semrush-review-sensor

Listings Management

SEMrush Listings Management (only available in US) is a new beta tool that makes for more efficient management of your various directory listings. Accurate and consist directory listings are key factors in local SEO. For example, if your phone number changes you can change it once in SEMrush Listing Management tool and the new number will populate across all the associated directory listings like Yelp, Google My Business, Foursquare, and more. This tool is part of a partnership with Yext.

 

Content Toolkit

Topic Research

One of the main responsibilities of digital marketing is creating relevant content that covers all the major subjects of a topic. To do this comprehensively requires researching what articles are currently published on the topic and how well they are performing in search. SEMrush automates this research by providing the best headlines, articles and topics to write about based on which competitive content is doing best based on shares and rankings.

The topic research tool has 3 different ways to visualize the information: Cards, Overview, and Mind Map.

 

semrush-topic-research

 

With this information, you can create an impressive content topic map and a comprehensive plan to attack the subject field that you write about.

 

Pro-tip: After you create your optimized content strategy, add the deliverables and due dates into SEMrush’s Marketing Calendar

 

SEO Content Template

Next step is planning the article. When preparing to craft SEO-optimized content, be sure to leverage SEMrush’s SEO Content Template. This tool analyzes the top 10 Google results for the keyword you are researching. It then extracts the top keywords, linking sites, and other trends from the well-ranking articles. It even isolates the keyword in each of the top 10 articles so you can see in what capacity others used the keyword being analyze. Really impressive data.

SEO Writing Assistant

SEMrush now even has your back when writing the actual content. The SEO Writing Assistant is an extension to add to either Google Docs or WordPress. It uses the trends picked up from the SEO Content Template report and prompt you to incorporate them into the content as you write. The SEO Writing Assistant provides an overall score for the quality of your content based on readability, use of target keywords, word count, and more.

 

semrush-seo-writing-assistant-review

 

 

Pro-tip: The Reading Ease score is based on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. Text with a score of 100 is very easy to read. Usually SEO-optimized web copy scores around 60-70 level, easily understandable by the typical 13 to 15 year old.

 

Content Audit

The Content Audit first accesses your site’s content by checking your sitemap. You let SEMrush know which sections of your site should be audited (probably not your privacy policy, for example).

Once it knows the pages to audit, SEMrush pulls various metrics such as social shares (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin), backlinks, and web analytics (like time on page and bounce rate). It also helpfully shows stats like the meta description, H1, and Wordcount so you can at a glance see if any of these are missing, has incorrect data, or is the wrong length. You can even set the Workflow status so you know what progress stage each article is in.

 

Brand Monitoring

Brand Monitoring is one of the best parts of the SEMrush toolkit. With this tool, you can monitor the online mentions of your brand as well as competitors. This tool is constantly scouring the web and Twitter for whatever brand you are tracking. It then reports back stats on mentions, linking domains, and the number of times mentions occurred. This report will provide you with sites or accounts that are mentioning a competitor but not you (yet) so you can increase your reach strategically.

Pro-tip: SEOs are of course always trying to increase their quality backlinks. One method is find mentions of your branding that don’t link out to your site. Simply ask them to link to you and get some low-hanging backlinks!

 

PPC Toolkit

Advertising Research

Advertising research is similar to the Organic research report but for PPC keywords from ads. This report is most useful for competitive research as you will have most of this information in your Adwords account. Something different is it can efficiently and automatically pull who your top PPC competitors are in the competitor’s report. From there you can get a sense of keywords they are bidding on and what ad position they are placing in.

Ad History is great for seeing the longest running ads of competitors along with the winning copy.

 

Pro-tip: A long running ad is typically a successful one. So check ad history for competitors longest running ads to see what you can learn and emulate.

 

Keyword Gap

In the Keyword Gap report, choose the paid keyword option in the drop down under each domain. Now you can enter your company and competitors to see what keywords they are bidding on that you are not. It could be a good opportunity that you are currently not capitalizing on.

 

semrush-review-keyword-gap-online-geniuses

Keyword Magic Tool

We went over the Keyword Magic Tool extensively above but know that you can also use it for PPC. Each keyword has a column for CPC (Cost per click) bid amount and PPC Competition, a score from 0 to 1. Perhaps if you are having difficulty ranking organically for a keyword, look into bidding on the keyword to show up in the SERPs via AdWords.

 

Ad Builder

The first part of Ad Builder is looking at what the competition is doing. You can pull in ad history of your competitors to pour over for effective copy and headlines to take inspiration from.

Next you can actually craft the ad right in SEMrush. You can write the copy for headlines and ad content along with the correct lengths.     

It’s like having the AdWords interface right in your SEMrush account. The main benefit of creating your ads in SEMrush is that you are a click away from the competitive research, which will make your ads better. After done with crafting your ads, simply import into your AdWords (now Google Ads) account.          

Pro-tip: one of the most effective ways to increase CTR of ads is to include the actual search phrase people wrote in the ad. You can automatically include search phrases into an ad using Ad Builder through dynamic keyword insertion using the bracket notation: {keyword}.

 

semrush-ad-builder

 

PPC Keyword Tool

It takes a lot of diligence to set up and optimize PPC campaigns. All the keyword, ad groups, campaigns, etc for AdWords adds up to a lot of management. The PPC Keyword Tool makes this easier. This tool allows you to add a campaign, manage negative keywords, add groups (including SKAGs), and more.

Click the recommendations button to get ways to optimize your campaign. You can also save time by making bulk changes to multiple keywords for things like changing match types, deleting keywords, or setting up single keyword ad groups. All within the SEMrush tool.

Pro-tip: SKAGs are a way of structuring your AdWords campaigns to increase effectiveness by creating a separate ad group for each keyword. This leads to super-narrow targeting and theoretically higher CTR and lower CPCs.

 

Social Media/PR Toolkit

 

Social Media Poster

This tool of SEMrush is a social media tool that schedules and posts social messages for Twitter and Facebook. You can create posts weeks in advance as well as create drafts that aren’t quite perfect yet.

 

Social Media Tracker

SEMrush’s Social Media Tracker keeps tabs on your follower counts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube. It’s regularly updated along with the change from previous period, whether positive or negative.

You will also want to track engagement. SEMrush helps keep track of views, shares, likes, and dislikes.

You can also add competitors to easily track how you are stacking up.

 

Pro-tip: Use SEMrush’s Social media Tracker to keep track of hashtags to measure how those campaigns are performing versus each other

 

Brand Monitoring

We talked about Brand monitoring above but to be comprehensive didn’t want to ignore in this section as it is super relevant to Social media and PR.

brand-monitoring

 

Marketing Calendar

One new feature that we are excited about is the marketing calendar.

Marketing campaign activities can get hard to manage very quickly. That is why SEMrush created their Marketing Calendar. This is a way to plan out and schedule which social posts, content and other activities go out on which day. You can also use the calendar to delegate tasks to team members and track their progress until completion. Marketing calendars can be shared with clients as well via links.

 

Competitive Research

Domain Overview

One thing to keep in mind is that almost all the great information that SEMrush collects for your online properties is also collected for your competitors.

Domain overview is a great example. It provides information similar to the Organic Research report: organic traffic estimations, backlinks, top keywords, etc. But it also adds more information on aspects such as social media and ads. It’s a one-stop shop for competitive research.

 

Traffic Analytics

Traffic Analytics is like getting a sneak peak into the Google Analytics accounts of competitors. SEMrush estimates the organic visits, pages/visit, avg visit duration, and bounce rate of your rivals. Keep in mind that these are estimations, so don’t take them as exact. Yet they are great for benchmarking yourself to some of your closest competitors.

Other information that SEMrush provides is traffic sources – how much traffic competitors receive from each country and each channel including direct, referral, social, search, and paid.

Pro-tip: Using Traffic analytics you can find what are the most valuable sources of traffic for competitors. It might make sense to reach out to these referring sites for a backlink or partnership proposal!

 

Organic Research

We spoke about organic research above but just want to reiterate that it is a great tool for competitive analysis as well. Get competitor’s ranking positions, recent changes, organic traffic stats, and top pages all in this key section of SEMrush.

Here you’ll find the ratio of follow to no-follow links and links by TLD (top-level domain) to see how many are .com versus .edu or .gov (which are more influential).

This is the section with Authority Score, a score from 1 to 100 that measures the authority or strength of a site’s organic reach based on links.

organic-research-semrush-review

 

PLA Research

One aspect we haven’t touched on yet is PLA Research. Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are the e-commerce AdWords ads that show an actual product with image, description and pricing right in the SERP. SEMrush gathers this competitive data from these ads including the position, product title, URL, and price. This is great if you want to keep tabs on the product ads of competitors!

 

SEMrush Integrations

SEMrush integrates with several marketing tools including the following:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Trello
  • DashThis
  • TapClicks
  • DataBox
  • Hubspot
  • Klipfolio
  • Reportz

SEMrush Pricing plans

**All OG members get an exclusive discount of at least 20% off annual plans. See link below**

SEMrush Pricing starts at 99.95 per month with the Pro Plan. It’s stated as best for “freelancers, startups, and in-house marketers with limited budget.” The Pro Plan is a comprehensive starting plan not lacking in any major ways.

The Guru plan is the second tier at 199.95 per month. The Guru Plan ups the limits on reports, companies to track, and social accounts to manage. The other main differences between Guru and Pro is Guru includes branded reports and historical data.

The largest advertised plan is Business at 399.95 per month. Limits on reports are increased across the board versus other plans. Notably API access and white label reports are included in this plan best for large agencies and brands.

Enterprise plans are also available if you need a larger or custom offering.

semrush-pricing

SEMrush Review Conclusion

As you can see in our SEMrush review, there are lots of valuable reports and information in the SEMrush Toolkit. Tools cover the spectrum of SEO, SEM/PPC, Social/PR, and Content marketing. SEMrush is constantly innovating so Online Geniuses recommend that marketers take full advantage of what SEMrush has to offer.

For more information on SEMrush and to connect with the team, check out their Partner channel on Online Geniuses #partner_semrush.

For a free trial and OG discount for SEMrush, visit:

https://www.semrush.com/product/promo/accept.html?promo=TOOLREVIEW-BVCCSB9K

Keep in mind, all OG members get an exclusive discount of at least 20% off annual plans. If the above code is no longer active, email becky.shindell@semrush.com for a new code