SemRush is so popular in digital marketing that a great many people have heard of it who don’t even have any idea what it actually does. Sadly, they could be very ones who could benefit from it, if they only knew to ask, exactly what is SemRush, anyway? This SemRush review will not only answer that question, it will provide thorough coverage of what the software does and how it can be helpful.
SemRush is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) program. That means you don’t actually buy it, but subscribe to it in order to use its features. It was actually created by marketers in 2008 to use for their own marketing campaigns, and now the company has over 900 professionals all over the world. And the reason everyone has heard of it is because, with more than 6 million users, it is now the number 1 tool in search engine optimization (SEO).
- 1 What Does SemRush Do?
- 2 How to Optimize Your Website With SemRush.com
- 3 Using SemRush to Spy on Competition
- 4 Find Keywords With SemRush
- 5 SemRush for Finding Backlinks
- 6 Using SemRush to See Paid Advertising
- 7 SemRush FAQs
- 8 Bottom Line
What Does SemRush Do?
So, the next question would be, exactly what does SemRush do? And the answer to that is, just about everything. This program is practically a one stop shop for your digital marketing needs. Even the most basic plan includes:
- Domain and Keyword Analytics – including daily reports and monthly keyword metrics updates.
- Multiple Projects
- Mobile Rankings
- Thousands of Crawled Pages
- Monitored Social Profiles
- Social Profiles for Posting
- Sharing Editing Access
- Scheduled PDF Reports
- Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Analysis
There are more than 40 advanced tools that can be used to run your SEO, pay per click (PPC) and social media management (SMM) projects. They will give you information about the websites of your competitors, such as: rankings, traffic sources, social media results and much more. The other plans will give you all of that, plus more projects and a great many other features.
How to Optimize Your Website With SemRush.com
For companies who don’t have the budget to outsource their SEO, optimizing a website can be daunting, because there are a lot of moving parts. But an online presence is one of the most vital elements of a business, so it must be done right. SemRush has a tool that will look at every aspect of your site, identify problems and tell you how to fix them. It’s called Site Audit, and it basically works in 3 steps.
Site Audit will check your website for 120 specific SEO problems. The results will tell you if there are any:
- Notices – These are issues that aren’t very important, but you need to be aware of them because they could cause problems down the line.
- Warnings – These are not urgent issues, but fixing them properly will have a noticeable impact.
- Errors – These are the most important issues that your website has, and you should make them a priority to correct as soon as possible.
There is also a Top Issues list on the Overview tab and the program will and give you list of the landing pages that need to be fixed.
There are Thematic Reports that have a “Why and how to fix it” section. It has a list of all the Notices, Warnings and Errors grouped together under specific issues. For instance, there might be a section titled Internal Link Issues. The first section would be all of the Errors, shown in red. The second section, Warnings in orange and then Notices shown in blue.
Each section would have a list of the specific problems with a link next to them reading either Learn more or How and why to fix it. Hovering over the links will give you the information you need to deal with the issue.
Once you have fixed the issues that have been identified by SemRush, there is an On Page SEO Checker that can recommend actions you can take to improve your website’s optimization. You simply need to give it a list of keywords that you want each of your website’s pages to rank for, and there are two automated options for doing this.
Position Tracking is a tool that let’s you measure your progress over time. It shows you the daily rankings of your website for a set of target keywords that you can customize. It will measure your website’s:
- Estimated traffic
- Average position
There are a variety of ways you can view your data, and there is even a Position Tracking app available for both Android and iOS.
Once you know how to optimize your website with SemRush.com, you should lose no time in applying its tools. Because it shouldn’t take very long to see the results of your efforts.
Using SemRush to Spy on Competition
There are few ways to better improve your own website’s effectiveness than knowing what your competitors are doing, so using SemRush to spy on competition would be one of your biggest advantages. There is a variety of ways you can see exactly what your competition is doing, and just how well they’re doing it.
- Brand Monitoring
- Ad Strategy
We’ll take a look at Brand Monitoring now, and cover the other three below.
It can be very time consuming to track your brand mentions, but it is a very worthwhile task. Not only can it find any weak spots that might be lurking in your marketing strategy and help you to assess your brand reputation in general, but it might also be able to help you identify new partnership opportunities.
But one of the best aspects of the SemRush Brand Monitoring tool is that it makes tracking and analyzing mentions fast and easy for your competitors mentions, as well as your own. That gives you the huge advantage of getting a sneaky peek at their marketing strategy.
The Brand Monitoring tool can help to evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing campaign by measuring its estimated reach, identifying top sources of mentions and tracking the referral traffic from the mentions. You can compare the trends of your mentions and the domains who mention you to those of your competitors.
Find Keywords With SemRush
Keyword research can be extremely tedious, but the SemRush Keyword Overview tool automates a great deal of the process and provides you with a great deal of valuable data. In fact, not only can you get a fast, extensive analysis of your keywords, you can also get valuable information on trends, as well as paid and organic search results. All of the data you need about each specific word or phrase will be displayed on one easy-to-read screen.
You will instantly be able to tell what the top keywords are for your Pay Per Click (PPC) and SEO campaigns with updates on the metrics for volume, keyword difficulty, Cost Per Click (CPC) and more. It’s worth noting at this point that one of the most common complaints about this platform is that the difficulty score on the bulk keyword metrics are not always very accurate. However, it’s also commonly acknowledged that this is a particularly difficult metric to evaluate.
The volume metric is not only shown for one country you choose, the values are also displayed for a list of other countries, which allows you to focus your efforts with greater accuracy. An extremely valuable feature is the ability to analyze the data for both mobile and desktop index separately.
Related Keywords and Phrases
Volume metrics are provided related keywords and phrases. When you enter a particular search term, the Keyword Overview tool looks at the domains Google has ranked as the top 100 for that specific term, then returns a list of all of the other keywords and phrases that they have in common. These will basically be a number of synonyms and relevant variations of the original search term.
Another interesting group of metrics provided is the volumes for a list of questions that use the original search term. Altogether, you will end up with an almost endless pool of potential keywords and phrases.
The Keyword Ad History graph also offers quite a bit of very important information. It shows you whether a particular keyword had ever been used in paid search and, if so, how many ads featured it over a specific time period. You can drill down from here to more details about how long the ads ran and what text was in them.
After you determine what the prices and positions of the ads were on Google, and find out just how much traffic they generated, all of this data can help you understand bids more clearly.
One really convenient feature of the Keyword Overview tool is the ability to find in search results Ad Copies and Product Listing Ad (PLA) Copies that use your keywords. By looking at these actual ads, you can see how the keywords are used in paid campaigns by your competitors, and exactly how the ads will look. From this, you can determine what potential advertising value each keyword has.
The SERP Analysis table shows you the most important metrics of multiple domains you choose to enter. For every URL, you will see:
- Authority Score
- Referring Domains
- URL Keywords
You will be able to tell instantly from this data exactly where it is that you need to concentrate on your own web pages in order for them to rank well on Google searches. Overall, it’s much easier and more effective to find keywords with SemRush.
One of the most important features of this program is the ability to use SemRush for finding backlinks. Backlinks are one of the most crucial factors in determining your website ranking. When your website has backlinks from established authority sites, Google rewards it with more credibility, improving its own authority and trust.
SemRush tools help you with backlinks in two ways: gaining information about the backlinks your competitors have and obtaining more respected backlinks for your own site. In fact, it is the information you’ll get from the first that will deliver the second. Because you will start with a broad overview, then drill down to the details that will provide you with the ammunition you need. Here’s how that works.
After putting the domain name of your competition into a search box, SemRush will deliver an overview of all of the information about the backlinks on their website. You will see exactly how many total backlinks they have, as well as which domains they are coming from. You will also see how many follow and no follow links, as well as text and image links, a map showing where the website visitors are located and much more.
It will only take a glance at this website to be able to tell exactly how well-established this company is and where their backlinks are being built from. Then, from there, you can go much deeper.
Next, you can start entering subdomains. This is where you will start learning what you need to know in order to improve your own collection of backlinks. Because when you discover where a competitor is weak, that is where you will want to focus your own link building strategy.
For instance, let’s say you have competitor who has a blog on their website that has a significant amount of backlinks, but their page content has really poor backlinks. Then your first priority would be to beef up your page content, make sure all of the pages are properly optimized with everything necessary to draw the attention of respected authority sites.
Now you can go and look at each specific page on the competitor’s website, find out exactly how many backlinks are on it, and who they are from. The reason this is an important feature is that it gives you the opportunity to obtain new backlinks.
Your goal is to create a page with the same information, but with a stronger presentation. Maybe there are statistics or other data that needs to be updated, or you can just provide more of it. You can either create new material or use existing content. You just need to make sure that the page is as strong as you can make it.
Then you reach out to everyone who has linked to your competitor’s page, to make them aware of your new and improved content on the subject. Hopefully, they will link to you, as well.
One of the most important things that a software program can do for you is save you time. And the Backlink Comparison tool from SemRush makes it possible to compare the backlinks of 5 different domains all at the same time. The most effective way to use this tool is to include your own site and then choose the domains of four of your competitors for the comparison.
The comparison table will give you an overview of several types of information, starting with how many backlinks each of you has, where they are coming from and more. One really cool feature of this tool is that the results are color coded and you can see who is performing better or worse or equal.
There is no question that SemRush’s backlinks research is one of the programs most robust and vital tools.
Using SemRush to See Paid Advertising
Discovering the secrets of the websites your competitors have isn’t the only strategy to surpass them. In fact, using SemRush to see paid advertising can show you exactly who your competitors are. Some of them will likely be the same as your competitors in organic search results, but not necessarily.
Once you’ve determined that, finding out what they are buying for their campaigns will give an enormous boost to your own marketing strategies. Having an analysis of the competition can show you exactly what works and what doesn’t work in your particular market.
Just by entering your own domain in a search box, SemRush will return a ranked list of your competition. On each of them, you will see the following information:
- What their total ad spend is
- How many keywords you are competing with them for
- How much traffic they are getting from all of that
You can look at the actual ads themselves in Ad Copies reports, which will give you an excellent indication of what the factors are for their success. If you like, you can filter ads to only look at the ones that have a particular word or phrase. Once you have all of the ads you are interested in, look closely at the headlines and descriptions, they will give you a very clear sense of their positioning.
The Advertising Research Pages issues a report that will lead you right to the landing pages where the ads are driving traffic to. You definitely want to click on those, and study the Calls To Action on them. This will provide useful insight into what the company’s campaign goals are.
A 12 month Ad History report will give you a month by month record of ad rankings and keywords used in the ad campaigns of your competitors. What this is particularly handy for is determining whether there are any trends or seasonality in a company’s strategy. For instance, a snow removal company that is busiest in winter may have no ad spend whatsoever in the summer months.
You can use the tools in SemRush to get a PDF report that analyzes everything that your competition is doing on Google Shopping, Google Ads and the Google Display Network. There’s even a Publishers tab that allows you to see a list of all of the websites where your competition’s ads were placed.
Basically, you can use this tool to find out what your competitors are doing right – such as keywords and ad placement – then replicate it in your own campaigns in order to outperform them. That is an enormous advantage.
While we’ve covered everything that SemRush does, and how it can benefit you, these SemRush FAQs will answer any questions you might have about the process of obtaining, renewing and canceling a subscription.
How much does a SemRush subsctiption cost?
At the time of this writing, there are three price plans from which to choose. The great thing is that all three of them have the option of a free trial, so you get to see for yourself whether SemRush is for you before spending a dime. There is a discount for paying annually, as well. In US currency, the currently available plans are priced as follows:
- Pro – $99.95
- Guru – $199.95
- Business – $399.95
Are there any custom plans available?
Yes. There is an Enterprise plan which is completely flexible to meet your individual marketing requirements. You just need to contact the company to discuss the specifics of what it is you need.
Can you cancel a subscription, or switch between plans at any time?
Absolutely. You are allowed to cancel a subscription, and upgrade or downgrade a plan whenever you choose. There is even a money-back guarantee for the first 7 days of your subscription, if you are not 100% satisfied.
But please note that you will be automatically charged the monthly rate for the plan you chose, if you do not cancel within the 7 days of your free trial.
If I cancel my subscription, what happens to my Projects?
Your Projects will remain active in the company’s database for a 30 day grace period after you cancel your account. If you renew your subscription within those 30 days, then all of your data and Projects will be saved, and you will be able to continue to work with them exactly as you did before.
However, everything will disappear after the 30 days, and there will be no way to retrieve it after that.
Are there any contract obligations or hidden fees?
No. There are no hidden charges or long-term commitments whatsoever.
What types of payment can I use?
A variety of payment methods are accepted:
- All major credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover and UnionPay.
- Checks and Money Orders (Only in the US and only upon request.)
- Wire Transfer (Only upon request.)
Is it possible to get a refund?
The SemRush refund policy is to issue a refund if it is requested within the first 7 days after signing up, renewing or your first charge. You can request it via the contact form on the company’s website or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given that the program is the number 1 tool in SEO, it has been thoroughly tested by a great many people. The users have been vocal, the flaws and features have been well-documented. You have to be diligent about checking the dates of opinions, however, since SemRush is updated on a regular basis. Currently, there seems to be a consensus about what the best and worst parts of the program are. They are:
- It has the world’s largest database of keywords.
- Link and SERP analysis, as well as organic search of of keywords and competition, is unbeatable and invaluable.
- It’s continually updated with many new improvements.
- Some of the most valuable features, such as Competitive Intelligence, Historical data and Product Listing Ads are only available in the higher-priced plans.
- The difficulty scores that are given for Bulk Keywords aren’t always perfectly reliable.
- User Interface for the organization of the programs can be a bit confusing, making the location of specific metrics hard to remember.
While the Competitive Intelligence feature is an add-on, the additional price is the same for all plans. Since SemRush doesn’t require any contract, and allows you to upgrade or downgrade plans as you choose, this is a tool that could conceivably be used sporadically to good effect. Good tools for keyword, competition and link analysis are each worth their weight in gold in SEO. For one platform to offer a combination of the three that is this powerful is quite remarkable.
Obviously, no program is perfect, that is why the best companies make a habit of listening to user feedback and applying it. But it seems like it would be pretty obvious to anyone the least familiar with marketing tools that the Pros heavily outweigh the cons when it comes to SemRush.