As we step into 2021 and look toward a more digital future than ever, blog owners, brands and small businesses are nailing down their SEO efforts and pushing for that ever-changing top spot on the search engine rankings.
We know that SEO and SEM aren’t exactly the easiest of tasks and can seem rather mundane, overly complicated or downright impossible to undertake on your own — or even with a team. However, with the right SEO tools, you’d be surprised by what you can do individually or with a group.
Whether you’re looking to kick off 2021 by improving your website’s health, link-building activities or simply start off with some new keyword research, then you might want to consider investing in SEMrush.
Of course, you’ll have noticed everyone online is raving about SEMrush and about how incredible it is, though there’s often not too much else said. That’s where this article will come in.
In our SEMrush review below, we’ll take a look at some of the best key features of the service, which ones will benefit you the most and how to best make use of them.
Let’s help you make this year a winner for your site’s SEO.
An Overview of SEMrush
To kick off our article, we’ll take a quick look at SEMrush and what the service is.
In short, the SEMrush platform is designed to essentially absorb as much information from the web as possible, analyse it and give you integral metrics related to keywords, website content, content trends, competitor ad campaigns and much more.
Essentially anything you need to find about your website or a rival brand’s website is located on SEMrush — and it’s so heavily detailed that we’re almost inclined to say it gives us an ‘unfair’ look at everyone else’s SEO and SEM activities.
That in mind, SEMrush remains a top tool for all of the world’s biggest SEO agencies and even the likes of eBay make use of the platform to keep their webpages right up top on Google Search.
A few of our favourite tools from SEMrush include:
- Keyword Research
- Position Tracking
- Website Auditing
- Organic Keyword Research
- Backlink Auditing
With those key tools, and many more, you’re going to have no issue at all optimising your website and pushing it to the very top of Google — without too much effort.
That overview out of the way, let’s take a look at our SEMrush review and the platform’s toolset plus a little bit about how you can best make use of it.
Our Favourite SEMrush Tools
Getting into our review now, and we’ll take a look at all of the integral tools that you’ll make the most use of on the platform, and how these can alter your website’s SEO score and ranking on Google Search.
Keep in mind that although these tools are relatively intuitive, they do take just a little getting used to, especially if you’re a newcomer to the SEO world. Be confident and take the time to learn the ropes and you’ll be an SEO pro in no time.
Keyword Research and Analysis
Off the top, you’re likely coming to SEMrush because of the company’s incredible keyword database. There’s little that comes close to SEMrush with regards to keywords and that’s down to the platform’s 20 billion indexed phrases and keywords — all of which come with a tonne of metrics attached.
Whether you’re working for client websites, or just your own blog, these keyword tools are going to give you everything you need to better optimise your blog topics, meta descriptions and much more.
You’ll find a few different sub-tools in the keyword research toolset and these include the Keyword Magic Tool as well as the Organic Research Tool and the Topic Research Tool. All of these tools work together to give you a comprehensive look at your keywords, content and changes in keyword difficulty and popularity.
That out of the way, let’s take a look at each of these keyword tools in more detail.
The Keyword Magic Tool
Arguably a favourite tool amongst SEO and SEM marketers, the Keyword Magic feature is where you’ll find some of the most helpful keyword tips.
This tool allows you to access the huge keyword database and input your keyword phrases and create a tonne of different keyword lists for different clients, or the different projects you’re working on.
All of the keywords that come up in this list have a load of information on the side of them too, where you’ll be able to determine cost per click for advertising activities, as well as the popularity and difficulty of each of these keywords and a lot more.
You’re effectively going to be able to find every metric you want to know about a keyword, all of which you will need to make intelligent content decisions.
As an example, if you’re looking for a content marketing keyword, simply input this keyword in the search bar and you’ll be provided with hundreds of thousands of keywords which contain this specific phrase.
You’re then able to use all of these keywords to help guide you to better optimising your website content, as well as changing tags and titles on your website.
A few of the metrics you’ll be provided with, per-keyword, include things like:
- A Trend Line
- The Difficulty of Each Keyword
- The Search Volume of Each Keyword
- Which Keywords to Pursue
- The SERP Features for Each Keyword
- CPC Information on Cost to Advertise a Keyword
And even more.
To make all of this data a little easier to digest, SEMrush also includes a table or a downloadable PDF with all of this information. You can then see this more easily and work on deciphering all of the metrics that you need.
One of our favourite ‘mini-features’ of the Keyword Magic Tool is the ‘Questions’ option you’re able to select. After hitting this option, you’ll be shown a range of informative data points on what or why someone may have searched for this term — a fantastic metric if you’re a content creator looking to develop content that answers one of these questions.
That out of the way, it isn’t too hard to see why SEMrush’s keyword feature is one of the most popular on the market. Though, it can be a little complicated for some people to use, which is where our next tool comes in — the Keyword Analyser Tool.
The Keyword Analyser Tool
Working in harmony with the Keyword Magic Tool, the Analyser simply gives you a helping hand when it comes to understanding all of the keywords you were given.
To make things even simpler, SEMrush allows you to choose up to a thousand keywords to analyse and gather important metrics upon.
This analyser gives you the power to do the following:
- Export all your keywords in a Spreadsheet
- Segment all of your keywords for improved analysis
- Share the keywords with other tools in the SEMrush Suite
Although these tools and features aren’t too complex, they are a great, simple way to get a little more control and understanding of your keywords.
The Position Tracking Tool
Once you’ve worked through analysing your keywords, you’ll then be able to move on to SEMrush’s Position Tracking tool to better understand which keywords are going to perform well for you.
As you can see, there’s a trend here with SEMrush baking in all of the tools you’ll need in a chronological order to make sure you have the help you need in every step of the way.
Through the Position Tracking tool, you’ll be able to input all of the keywords you’ve chosen to track and work on garnering updates from SEMrush about how these keywords perform on a weekly basis, and from here you’ll be able to make better informed decisions about whether to pursue a keyword or not.
A somewhat new feature added into the Position Tracking Tool are the SERP features, which will give you the chance to see whether a keyword is getting SERP exposure and which audiences are seeing these.
To add, there are also review features integrated into this tool too, which means you’re getting a look at the pages you are ranking for on search engines and are able to adapt and change your content on your website to better improve your SEO.
One final thing to note is that when it comes to rival websites, you can also take a peek at their landing pages.
If you’ve spotted a competing website is routinely above your web page, you’re able to be directed to their landing page, assess what this page does better than yours and grab ideas to improve your landing.
A special mention from us is that SEMrush allows for the usage of localised keywords and geographically specific phrases and terms. This is ideal for small and local businesses looking to capitalise on a specific post code, rather than nationwide.
It allows you to narrow down your hard work and really get the results you’re looking for in a local area — rather than spreading yourself too thin by working across a state or a national level.
The Domain Overview Tool
For our readers who are routinely having issues with their websites underperforming on Google, and not too sure why, then SEMrush’s Domain Overview tool has you well looked after.
In the past, it was incredibly complicated and time consuming to understand what could be wrong with a website’s referrals and links and why — with regards to SEO.
There are a tonne of metrics and data points to look at from the content within a website, the website architecture and complexity as well as the meta descriptions and more.
With the domain overview tool you’re getting almost all of this taken care of for you in an automated way. The tool will essentially take a look at your website, a page or the entire domain and find all of these issues and outline them for you.
Disclaimer: while all other content in the Domain Overview Tool is accurate, it’s important to be mindful of the monthly traffic data. These metrics are typically a little off, and may not show the true traffic your website’s garnering.
The content and metrics you’ll be shown are in fact the traffic provided from the keyword popularity in the SEMrush database, which is assisted by an algorithm. Again, this may be close to your true traffic, or it may be wildly off, so it’s important to take this specific metric with a grain of salt.
You’ll see that your monthly traffic data is essentially pulled from data such as keyword positions and number of keywords and then the final number created by an algorithm in an attempt to get this metric correct.
That out of the way, your monthly traffic may be higher or lower when you do work on this on your own or if your website gives you this data.
That disclaimer stated, we can now take a look into some of the great data, suggestions and pointers you’ll be given by the Domain Overview Tool.
A few things you’ll be provided with by the Overview Tool:
- A look into the number of backlinks you’re receiving from referring domains.
- Data on the traffic you’re getting from paid search results — possible accuracy issues.
- A glanceable insight into sources of both organic or paid keywords.
- An interactive graph with data relating to traffic from specific time periods.
- Information on the most popular organic keywords that are generating the most traffic for your website. Each phrase or keyword comes with added analytics.
- Metrics on all of your keyword distributions, showcasing information on where your keywords rank and in which positions for the first 100 results.
- Insightful information on your competition and data on which keywords are overlapping plus some information on other potential rival websites based on competing phrases.
- Graphs offering information on your position map, built upon your organic search traffic and giving you the chance to adapt keywords to better overtake competing websites.
- A simple outline of all the paid keywords which are working best to bring the most traffic to your website. These keywords can also be expanded for more actionable information.
- Charts with information on all of your most important competing websites from a paid standpoint. Again, clicking on these rivals will give a tonne more analytics.
- A graph with position mapping related to paid keywords from your competitor PPC campaigns. This insight is particularly helpful when it comes to seeing what is and isn’t working for rival websites so you’re able to forgo making the same error.
- Samples of your PPC ads and insight into how they’re performing.
- A list of backlinks which point to your website and which websites these backlinks are located on, as well as which anchors are performing best.
- A simple list of the anchor text found in backlinks — ideal for blog partnerships.
- Outlined referring domains which are sending the most traffic to your website.
With all of these features out of the way, and many more that we haven’t yet taken a look over, it’s easy to see that SEMrush’s Overview feature is going to save you a tonne of time when it comes to understanding how your website is being found, by who and thanks to which websites.
Almost all of the features and metrics above are just scraping the surface and you’re able to click through these metrics to get further and further into what you can thank for your site’s success or failure. Of which will give you the chance to make adjustments and succeed in your SEO goals.
All that in mind, there are still a tonne of other features and tools in the Domain Suite and we suggest spending a day or two going through these to find the most useful and important ones for your business and website’s needs.
The Organic Research Tool
When it comes time to delve into the keywords that your rivals, or your own website are ranking for, the organic research tool comes in most handy.
You’re going to find that this is the tool for you if you’re looking to get the most out of the content you’re creating, and the content that’s already residing on your website.
A few small adjustments to how you’re creating content and what you will be working on in the future — guided by the Organic Research Tool — can majorly change where you land on the search engines.
To make this data easier to find and understand, you’ll see an Overview Tab and a Positions Tab to make use of.
Within the overview tab you’re getting metrics on how your keywords are doing over a period of time and whether you’re moving up or down in the first ten pages on a search engine, in the first five or on the first page.
Keep a close eye on this metric when you make changes to content on your website and you’ll be able to quickly see whether these changes are resulting in an increase in web traffic or search ranking.
For a more detailed look into essentially everything you are ranking for, the Positions tab is going to be your saving grace.
Clicking on this tab will give you plenty of insight into every single keyword you rank for in the first 100 results on Google or any other chosen search engine. This is great for those looking to find out whether there are avenues for growth and whether a keyword is working that you weren’t too sure about.
To keep things simple, the organic research tool is going to give you all of the insight and guidance you need to get the most out of low-cost and essentially ‘free’ marketing for your web pages, rather than relying solely on PPC ads to get your website up the ladder.
A few of the data sets and metrics you’ll find on the organic research tool are listed below:
- The Cost Per Click for a specific keyword
- Information on the number of searches which occurs for a specific keyword
- Changes in a keyword’s position based upon your previous search
- Any URLs which a specific keyword is most associated with
- A typical CPC average
- An overview of the competitive saturation or density for a specific keyword
- Keyword trends and changes over time
- All of the URLs which are indexed that contain a specific keyword
- When a keyword’s information was most recently updated
It’s important to note that these keyword crawls which find all of the data above can take a fair while on SEMrush, which means there can be a week, or several weeks between information being updated on a specific keyword.
You’re better off relying on the Position Tracking Tool for the more updated keyword metrics or if you need data that’s routinely kept up to date.
All that said, the organic research feature and the Position Tracking tool are both incredibly powerful and must-haves when it comes to understanding how a keyword is doing and whether a specific type of content is worth perusing on your website.
You’ll be able to get better results and spend less time working on keyword research and analysis when you have SEMrush doing all of the heavy lifting for you. Plus, you’ll have insight into whether PPC campaigns or specific keywords worked or failed for rival websites, saving you time and giving you the chance to go without making their mistakes.
The Keyword Gap Tool
The final keyword tool that we will take a look at in our SEMrush review is the gap tool, which is one of the better tools out there to make sure you’re not missing opportunities to succeed.
This is the tool which will essentially scan your rival’s website for keywords and determine whether there’s a gap in the keywords you or a rival are using and lets you know how to fill it.
One of the most effective ways to undercut a rival website and climb the search engine rankings is through finding gaps and missed opportunities, and SEMrush actively helps out with this.
When using this tool, you have the chance to enter up to five websites and have these all scanned by SEMrush to find the ultimate competing website when compared to yours.
Once you have this information, you’ll find a list of all the keywords that both you and your competitor are using, and whether one of you is climbing above the other.
There are also some other essential metrics here too like the difficulty to rank for this specific keyword and whether you should go for it or not. There’s CPC and volume data displayed per-keyword too.
A nifty perk of this tool is that you’re also able to switch views and see a list of the keywords that you don’t rank for at all. This is where you can work to find content or create content that makes use of these keywords and climbs you up to your rival’s rankings.
Essentially, with these non-ranking keywords identified, you can then keep a close eye on what you’re missing out on without doing the keyword research on your own. Take what your rivals already have and work with it.
With all of that said, the Keyword Gap Tool is the ultimate weapon when it comes to finding keywords and ideas for new content that will almost certainly result in a better ranking, and you won’t need to work too hard to get there at all.
Domain or Site Review Features
With all of the awesome keyword tools out of the way, we’ll now take a look at some of the best site review features.
If you’ve been in SEO for a long while, or have been tasked with error and issue-finding with a website, you’ll know that this operation can be incredibly time consuming and almost seem impossible depending on how large a website is.
You’ll be required to look at everything from content, broken links, meta data problems, website structure and architecture and much more, all to find out whether a site is designed correctly and whether there are any issues with it that could be causing a low ranking.
We’re happy to say that SEMrush has all of this covered for you, and just about every integral website auditing workflow can be done in just seconds — all the way down to scanning for broken links and backlinks.
The Site Audit Tool
One of our favourite features of SEMrush by far is the Site Audit tool which gives you unparalleled power to check how everything’s working on the domain.
Of course, you’ll be able to pair this feature and workflow with the keyword tools above, and with that, you’ll have a two-pronged approach to getting your website looking beautiful for search engines.
All you need to do for this is to run a site audit in SEMrush by simply handing over the main domain URL and let the service to do the work.
Just about anything you need to know will be taken into consideration here which includes everything from site loading times, meta descriptions, backlink issues and much more.
You’ll be provided with a simple percentage score and then a major list of things you can change to improve your site’s performance and, of course, its ranking on the search engines.
As an example, you might run an audit and be shown 12 errors, 600 warnings and around 1,000 or so notices. You can use all of these to make changes on your website and work smarter instead of harder.
One last thing we’d like to note is that when you’re working with multiple clients or business and need to audit websites, this time-saving tool will change how you operate and make life a whole lot easier.
The Backlinks Analytics Tool
As we’ve routinely mentioned across our SEMrush review, backlinks are incredibly important for your rankings and should be focused upon when working to improve your search engine results.
To keep things simple, search engines like Google still place a tonne of authority in backlinks to know when a website should be spotlighted in search — so make certain you’re doing the best you can with your backlinks.
Adding to this, when a website links back to your blog or website in general, they’re showing their audience that you’re a trustworthy source of information for products or news, etc. Keep in mind that it’s in a rival website’s best interest to only show their readers trustworthy information. They don’t want to erode trust and lose traffic.
That in mind, your backlinks show Google and search engines that you are a valuable website.
With the backlink analytics tool, you’ll have the chance to see all of your backlinks that are spread across the web and either link to your website — or a rival’s website. That information on hand, you’ll be able to make sure all of your pages are up and running and that you’re able to tell whether your backlinks are growing or not.
We suggest you always keep this tool close by and use it to understand where opportunities for linking are and to assist you and your website in outreach processes.
The Backlink Audit Tool
To go hand in hand with the backlink analysis tool, the auditing tool is what you’ll be able to rely on to ensure the links that point to your website are trustworthy and not toxic.
If you have a tonne of substandard websites linking back to yours, you’re going to be in big trouble when it comes to search engine rankings. These links can erode your credibility to Google, for example, and see your website increasingly falling from the top spot in search.
You can use all of these auditing tools to understand which links you like and which you don’t, and then disavow the toxic ones with Google themselves and see your ranking improve almost immediately.
To end, a toxic link can greatly damage your website’s reputation amongst users and also search engines, so be sure to continually take a look at your backlink health and disavow any unsavoury links.
Our Final Thoughts on SEMrush
With all of the above said in our SEMrush review, it’s clear to see that SEMrush is quite the ‘be all end all’ when it comes to SEO and search engine marketing.
You’re able to rely on the service to give you just about as much up to date information on keywords, links, search volumes and much more than you’ll ever need.
Whether you’re looking to simply clean up a website, improve its ranking or get a look at what your rivals are doing, SEMrush has you well-covered for this.
We would also go as far as saying that SEMrush is essentially the best SEO tool out there for just about all users. Whether you’re a one-off user, a blog owner or the director of an entire SEM agency, then SEMrush needs to find itself in your arsenal of tools.
For the newbies, we will say that the incredible amount of data and information on the platform can be a little daunting to understand at first and there is a learning curve if you’re coming from a smaller or more intuitive SEM or SEO platform.
That in mind though, there are plenty of resources and videos offered by SEMrush that makes sure you’ll find it easy to use and get used to.
You’ll be able to slowly follow these tooltips and get a really good grasp of how the service works in little to no time at all, and be well on your way to an optimised and well-performing website.
That out of the way, we’re going to give SEMrush a 5 out of 5 stars.
It’s certainly the global winner for us when it comes to SEO tools.
To end our SEMrush review, we’ll take a quick look at pricing.
Of course, all of these incredible tools come at a price, though it’s certainly stomachable for most people.
We suggest opting for an annual plan, with the cheapest Pro Plan starting at $999 which is on par with a lot of other SEO tools out there — which offer a whole lot less. The second tier plan runs for $1,999.44 annual and the Business Plan goes for $3,999.36 if you need a tonne of added features.