Semrush is an all-in-one marketing platform with an emphasis on SEO and keyword research. It's been a major player in the world of SEO for quite some time now, but the company still finds ways to improve its platform and expand what it offers to customers.
For instance, the platform had just over 3 billion keywords in its database in 2017, and it now has well over 20 billion, not to mention over 7 million users and 808 million domain profiles.
Semrush's platform spans keyword research, competitive research, backlink analysis, rank tracking, content marketing, social media scheduling, client management and more.
We're going to take a look at all of it in this Semrush review, starting with what the platform offers for SEO.
The Semrush SEO Toolkit
While Semrush's entire platform is designed to help you improve your site's SEO overall, it has a specific set of tools specifically for this purpose. These tools are organized into the following sections:
- Competitive Research
- Keyword Research
- Link Building
- On Page & Tech SEO
- Rank Tracking
The tools are interlinked with one another, so when you click on the backlinks data in the Domain Overview tab of the Competitive Research section, you'll be taken to the Backlink Analytics tab of the Link Building section.
One of the most notable features Semrush offers is the Domain Overview tool available in the Competitive Research section.
It's incredibly useful tool that enables you to uncover a lot of information about your competitors and how they operate. You'll be able to see how much traffic they receive, where that traffic comes from and which keywords they rank for.
This information will help you determine which countries you may want to target as well as which topics you should cover to round out your niche. You'll also find a list of your competitor's competitors, which will give you more data to work with.
One of the most useful features of this tool is the data it provides on backlinks.
With this data, you can pinpoint a competitor's underperforming post and reach out to the owner of the post's referring domain in an attempt to convince them to switch out your competitor's backlink for your own if you believe your post outshines theirs.
It's a quick and simple way to gain a few high-quality backlinks if you already have authoritative content on your site, especially since Semrush lists your competitor's backlinks by authority score (domain rank) by default.
Keyword Research with Semrush
Semrush's various keyword research tools are another set of hot features this platform offers. You can input any seed keyword into the dashboard's search bar to get started, but we're going to talk about this feature from the perspective of researching your competitor's top organic keywords.
By excluding keywords with keyword difficulty (Semrush's term for how hard it would be to rank for keywords) scores of 60 and higher, switching the volume minimum to 500 or 1,000, and sorting the results by ascending KD %, you can easily pinpoint high volume, low competition keywords relevant to your niche.
This is another reason why having access to your competitor's competitors is especially useful. It gives you more data to work with.
Finding Low Competition Keywords with the Keyword Magic Tool
Semrush's Keyword Magic tool is a nifty little feature that allows you to find additional keywords based on an initial seed keyword.
A cool way to use it in conjunction with your competitor's top keywords is to start by using the same view listed above but with the KD filter removed and the sort feature set to descending Traffic %. This will help you pinpoint your competitor's main traffic drivers.
This will give you more keywords to sift through, but it'll also help you build a larger, more targeted list of seed keywords. All you need to do is select the keywords you want to include in your list, then click the blue To Keyword Manager button.
The Keyword Manager is a vault for all of the keywords you want to target or research. From here, you can view each keywords' click potential and add tags to each one.
It should be noted you can also easily export your chosen keywords to a spreadsheet in Excel and CSV file formats.
Clicking one of the seed keywords in the Keyword Manager takes you to the Keyword Overview tool, which you can use to open the Keyword Magic tool for that particular keyword.
You'll find a lot of useful data here:
- Search volume in your region and around the world
- Keyword difficulty score
- Cost per click and advertising competition rating
- Trend over time
- Top pages that rank for that keyword
Most notably, you'll notice three sets of generated keywords: keyword variations, questions and related keywords. Clicking the View Details for each will take you to the Keyword Magic tool.
From here, you can mess around with the filters to generate different lists of low competition keywords.
You can even send this new collection of keywords to a new list in the Keyword Manager.
Additional SEO Tools
Semrush's tools and data make it easy to find potential link building opportunities. You start by entering your domain. The tool then generates a list of potential keywords you may want to target as well as a list of your top competitors.
We found the keyword list to be inaccurate and filled with mostly low-quality keywords. Fortunately, the tool allows you to delete any keywords you don't like and add your own.
Once you input all of this information, the tool will generate a list of web pages for you to request backlinks from.
From here, you'd typically need to send outreach emails via your own inbox or outreach tools like BuzzStream and Hunter. Semrush goes quite a few steps further as an SEO tool by giving you a way to send those same outreach emails directly from their dashboard. You just need integrate your mailbox client with your account.
The tool will even have a template waiting for you dependent on which outreach strategy you choose. Follow-up emails are available as well, and reports for delivery, open and reply rates will be generated once you get started.
The Keyword Gap Tool
The Keyword Gap tool allows you to compare the keywords you target and rank for against the keywords your competitors target and rank for. You can compare your domain with multiple competitors at a time.
The tool will generate large lists of keywords organized into the following categories:
- Shared: Keywords you and your competitor(s) both rank for
- Missing: Keywords all of your competitors rank for but you don't
- Weak: Keywords you and your competitor(s) both rank for in which your rankings are lower than theirs
- Strong: Keywords you and your competitor(s) both rank for in which your rankings are higher than theirs
- Untapped: Keywords at least one competitor ranks for but you don't
- Unique: Keywords you rank for but your competitors don't
It's an easy way to determine which topics you should cover and which ones you should optimize.
On Page & Technical SEO
The Site Audit tool allows you to crawl tens of thousands of pages on your site in search of errors, warnings, missing HTTPS certificates, internal links and more.
It's an incredibly useful tool that allows you to find technical issues that may be causing crawl errors, lower rankings and poor conversion rates.
If you switch over to the SEO Content Template tool, you'll be able to see how your competitors, specifically the ones who rank for your target keywords, use your target keywords in their own content.
You'll also receive a list of recommendations of semantically related keywords to include in your own article, how long the article should be and more. These recommendations are based on the top 10 articles that rank for your target keyword.
Tracking Rankings with Semrush
Semrush has a tool called Position Tracking that allows you to keep an eye on rankings for specific keywords.
The tool will generate a list of landing pages on your site that rank for your target keywords, whether its position is number one or 100. If you find pages that aren't in Google's top 10, you can easily insert the keywords into the Keyword Overview tool to see which pages do rank and which backlinks they've collected.
You can then spend time optimizing your page before reaching out to authoritative domains in hopes of stealing those backlinks.
Local SEO with Semrush
Semrush's platform isn't just about helping you rank region or even worldwide. If you operate locally, you'll be delighted to learn it has a tool that'll help you optimize your site for local search engines.
It's called the Listing Management tool. It allows you to see where your business has online listings and where it doesn't. Keeping track of this will help you maximize your visibility in local search engines.
It's an extra $40/month, but you'll also be able to respond to customer reviews and comments, and track your positions in Google Maps.
Optimizing Your Content Marketing Strategy with Semrush
Semrush isn't your average keyword tool or SEO tool for that matter. It offers an entire platform of tools designed to give you enough data to optimize nearly every aspect of your marketing strategy.
Content marketing is no different. We've already discussed the SEO Content Template tool, but the platform has quite a few additional content marketing tools under its belt.
This includes the Topic Research tool. Upon inserting a seed keyword, you'll be able to generate relevant content ideas with data on the number of Facebook shares, backlinks and social media shares each idea has received in total.
If you go through each section of the Topic Research tool, you'll find content ideas in the following formats:
- Card-based topic results you can arrange by volume, difficulty and topic efficiency. Each card has a list of pages that rank for that topic.
- A simple list of subtopics for your seed keyword with data on shares and backlinks.
- Top 10 lists of headlines generated based on landing pages with the highest number of backlinks for your seed keyword plus another top 10 list of questions related to your seed keyword.
- A mind map of related topics and questions not unlike what you'll find at Answer The Public.
It's one of the most unique and useful keyword research tools you'll ever use. Nearly every keyword the Keyword Magic tool, along with most keyword tools in general, generate keyword ideas that include your seed keyword or another variation of it.
The Topic Research tool, on the other hand, is really good at picking up on popular topics that relate to your seed keyword but don't necessarily include it. For example, here are a few questions the tool generated based on the seed keyword “how to start a blog:”
- How to track blog traffic in Google Analytics?
- How to start a blog and make money with AdSense?
- How to start a profitable news blog?
- Do I need a blog to do affiliate marketing?
- Can blogging be a full-time career?
These are incredible results, and there's even more to uncover as you explore this particular tool.
If you have the Guru plan or higher, you'll have access to the SEO Writing Assistant tool. It's similar to proofreading tools like Hemingway and Grammarly, except it's more closely related to Yoast's readability tool and tools like Clearscope that analyze your content for readability and the use of your target keywords.
Because Semrush stores all of its data internally, it's able to compare your content against the top pages that rank for your target keyword. Best of all, the tool has add-ons for Google Docs and WordPress.
Content Audit & Post Tracking
The Content Audit and Post Tracking tools are integrated with one another. You start by auditing your content, which generates a list of your site's top pages based on rankings and backlinks.
The Post Tracking tool is similar to the Position Tracking tool, except it tracks individual pages on your site as opposed to how well you rank for specific keywords.
You'll need to have a Guru plan or higher to fully use this tool to its potential, but it's well worth it, especially if the content you want to analyze exists in a subfolder in your site's files as the tool allows you to choose which subfolders to include in your audit.
Content Marketing Calendar
If you have a Guru plan or higher, you can potentially replace your current project management tool in favor of Semrush's Marketing Calendar tool. It's a simple yet powerful project management calendar that allows you to create categories for the various types of content your business creates.
You can arrange projects according to when you need to publish them. They'll be color coded depending on which category they belong to, and you can even assign statuses for each step in your editorial process.
Best of all, it's a collaboration tool, so you can truly use it to replace your current tool.
Managing Your Social Media Calendar with Semrush
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google My Business are supported. Unfortunately, you can only connect business Instagram accounts to the tool.
It's not as powerful as SocialBee, though, or even Revive Old Posts for that matter. You'll still be able to generate new posts for every social media platform you connect from a single original post.
You'll also have the following publishing options:
- Add to Queue: Adds the post to the next available time slot in your queue. Semrush generates time slots for you, but you can change them as you see fit.
- Schedule: Schedule for later at any time and date you want.
- Publish Regularly: Choose an original publish date and an ending publish date, and specify how often the post should publish between those two dates.
- Post Now: Publish immediately.
- Save as Draft: Save the post as a draft to work on later.
SocialBee allows you to create categories for social media posts. For instance, you can create a category for posts that promote your blog posts, another for posts that promote your products and another for posts that are designed to get your audience to engage.
Semrush doesn't have this feature and instead organizes your posts by whichever social media platform they were published to.
Furthermore, both SocialBee and Revive Old Posts have an auto-post feature that reschedules posts to the bottom of the queue after they're published. It's an incredibly easy way to keep your queue filled with content for an indefinite amount of time.
SocialBee even has tags you can assign to each post or even entire categories that specify how the tool should reschedule them, such as a tag called “Share Once” and another called “Evergreen.”
Semrush does have the Publish Regularly feature, but you must choose a specific end date, a specific publish time and a specific schedule for each post, such as “Every 1 Month on the 7th.”
This means you're probably better off using your current social media management tool alongside Semrush if you rely on the former to keep your queue filled with evergreen content.
Semrush also lets you track social media analytics plus create and manage ad campaigns for Facebook and Instagram. The latter feature is something many social media management tools don't offer. Some, like SocialBee, even charge quite a bit more for it while Semrush has it integrated directly into its pricing structure.
Managing SEO for Clients
If you're a developer or content marketer who manages SEO for clients, you can also use Semrush to generate leads and present reports to clients.
It starts with the lead generation tool, a simple contact form that enables you to offer free audits to potential clients.
The tool will then generate a list of potential clients complete with their contact information and website URLs as more and more leads fill out the form.
Once you get to work on the audits, you'll be able to keep an eye on each particular client project with Semrush's Client Manager dashboard.
It's broken down into the following sections:
- Profile: A snapshot of your client's budget, contact information, status in the sales process (lead, customer, etc.), projects you have with them and reports you've generated for them.
- Reports: A collection of well-designed reports you've created for your client using a drag-and-drop PDF report builder. Multiple templates are available to get you started, such as the Site Audit template you can generate from a recent site audit you conducted, but you can also use the blank template.
- Projects: Create projects from your client's domain, and connect up to 12 of Semrush's tools to it.
- Tasks: A simple task tracker that allows you to create tasks and assign statuses and due dates to each.
- Docs: A hub where you and your client can store and share files.
- Client Portal: A space where your client can easily access their reports for simplified communication.
Semrush also has separate tools you can use to create projects and generate reports. This is useful if you don't want to use the Client Manager feature or if you simply need to generate reports here and there for clients or your boss.
Semrush is a powerful, all-in-one marketing tool with a lot of useful SEO data only a small handful of third-party tools offer. As such, it's an expensive tool with three different plans and add-on services.
Pricing starts with the Pro plan for $119.95/month or $1,199.40/year. The Guru plan we mentioned throughout this review costs $229.95/month or $2,299.44/year. Annual plans have a 16% discount applied to them.
You'll have access to all of the SEO data you need with the Pro plan, but if you want access to content marketing tools, historical data, more than five projects and more keywords to track, you'll need to upgrade to the Guru plan or higher.
Additionally, access to white labeling and unlimited clients in the Client Manager cost an extra $100/month regardless of the plan you choose.
Fortunately, we can offer you a special 14-day free trial on all plans, so you can try everything relaxed and without being stressed. You have to contact Semrush's support team to cancel, though, and support is only available Monday through Friday during regular Eastern US business hours, so be wary of that. Fortunately, Semrush also has a 7-day refund policy.
Semrush is a multifaceted platform with enough tools and data to help you shape your content marketing strategy and improve the overall SEO health of your site. It can even replace a few third-party tools you use, which could help justify its cost if you're not sure if the high subscription rate is worth it, especially for the Guru plan, which is required if you want to use Semrush to replace your current content marketing tools.
If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, you may want to look into Mangools. It's a collection of SEO tools similar to Semrush that covers keyword research, SERP analysis, backlink analysis and competitive research.
The only major downside is the limited number of keyword suggestions generated for each search regardless of the plan you choose. Whereas Semrush generates tens of thousands of suggestions, giving you plenty of opportunities to find low competition keywords, Mangools only generates a maximum of 700 suggestions.
If you're interested in Semrush's platform, we do have a special offer for you – usually you can get started with a 7-day free trial on any plan – but by clicking the button below, you get a 14-day free trial! So why wait any longer? Check it out!
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