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SEMrush is one of the most powerful research tools that lets you drive more sales by helping you learn from your competition.
If you’re an inquisitive marketer, your first stop will be at a competitor’s website to see how they and their marketing strategy fares with yours. The truth is, we learn best from the failures and successes of our competitors. Inspiration is the name of the game here and you’ll quickly find out that online marketing only rewards the quick learner.
But to get up to speed with the latest and greatest, you have to cut corners. You don’t need to carry out all the hard market testing if your competitor has already done it. You simply copy what your nearest competition is doing and voila! Now, of course, this tactic doesn’t work if the product or service you’re launching is completely new, but for the 99% of things out there, a little competitor analysis is all you need.
Now there are many tools out there that let you ‘spy’ in on your competitors. When a simple Google search doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the biggest competitor tool out there: SEMrush.
SEMrush is the definitive research tool for digital marketers with all the tools you ever need for online success. It gives you the complete lowdown on who your competitors are, what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it – so you can replicate their ideas for your business as well.
Of course, the learning curve with SEMrush, like most other tools out there, is pretty steep. But once you get the hang of things, you’ll realize there’s nothing that your competitor does that you won’t soon learn to do yourself!
Simply put, SEMrush is your very own ‘spy’ tool that gives you access to marketing strategies. You can plainly view all the precious data, insights, and information as if it was pulled right from the CEO’s office. This information can be used to build a winning strategy.
SEMrush gives you access to the tried and tested secret formula so you won’t have to spend time and money on the research. All the data you find here is useful, and all the measurables that you get on your fingertips are the ones that make you money in the long run.
So without further ado, here’s our complete review of SEMrush and an in-depth guide on how to use it.
- 1 First Things First: Run an Audit on Your Website
- 2 2. How Your Site is Faring on Search Engines
- 3 3. Check-in on Your Competitors
- 4 4. Competitor Overviews
- 5 5. Organic Search Performance
- 6 Doing Further Research on Keywords
- 7 Doing Keyword Research with SEMrush
- 8 Detailed Keyword Analytics
- 9 Detailed Keyword Analytics
- 10 In-depth Long-Tail Keyword Research
- 11 Backlink Analysis
- 12 Backlink Comparison
- 13 Track Social Media Activities Using Social Media Tracker
- 14 Find All About Paid Search
- 15 Check Out Google Ads
- 16 Content Marketing Tool Kit
- 17 How to Sign Up for 7-Day Free Trial Subscription
- 18 Wrapping Up
First Things First: Run an Audit on Your Website
Before you can start looking at your competitors, it is helpful to first identify the baseline that you’re starting from. With SEMrush, you can audit your own website to understand exactly what you need to make improvements. SEMrush goes above and beyond the usual free audit tools and gives you a bird’s eye view on mistakes that need fixing, areas that can be improved, and things that should be ditched.
Here’s how you can audit your website with SEMrush:
- Visit semrush.com/projects/
- Click on Add New Project
Now enter the information in the box that will look like the screenshot below:
Next, you’ll click on “Site Audit” under the dashboard.
Fill in the audit settings as shown in the box below
Now give SEMrush just a few seconds (or minutes depending on your website) to give you the complete audit of your website. Here are the results for a website.
At first, it may not look like much, but you’re getting a lot of in-depth information that you need without all the extra stuff.
Take a few minutes to look around the dashboard here for clues on your website, or save it for later viewing.
2. How Your Site is Faring on Search Engines
Next, you’ll want to take a detailed look at how your website is performing in terms of organic search on Google. SEMrush currently only works with Google and not Bing.
To check your website’s performance, Click on ” Click for Domain Overview”, and simply type out your domain name into the search bar and choose the Domain Overview option from the drop-down menu as shown below:
And that’s it, now you’ll get a complete insight into how your website is doing through Google. SEMrush gives you a complete breakdown of your organic search results, paid search results, number of backlinks, and the keywords (at least the ones that matter) that you’re ranking for.
3. Check-in on Your Competitors
SEMrush makes it extremely easy to identify who your competitors are. To do this, follow these steps:
- Visit semrush.com/analytics/overview
- Type out your domain name under the search bar and select Domain Overview
Give the page a few seconds to properly load and you’ll see a page that looks like the screenshot below (we’re using fasttrack.com for this example):
Under the heading Main Organic Competitors, you’ll see a list of your competitors, the competition level they have with your website, the common keywords they have with you, and their search traffic.
This competitor list gives you a true eye-opener of your list of competitors, in this case, it would be inc.com, the muse.com, techcrunch.com, fortune.com, and hbr.org.
You can click on View details to see more information on all your competitors or you can click on the websites to learn more information about them.
4. Competitor Overviews
Click on any one of the competitors to see more information about them. Use ctrl+click to open up a new page. This will open up a domain overview (similar to the one you did for your own website earlier) of your competitor. In this case, we chose inc.com because they were at the top of the results page.
Now that is a ton of data that you can use to your advantage.
Take a look at the picture above. It looks like a couple of meaningless circles but in fact, it is showing you a great amount of data in a visualized form. You’re seeing a screenshot from the SEMrush Keyword Gap tool, and it gives you a brief comparison of different competitors based on the keywords they rank for. This feature is useful because it lets you visualize how ‘big’ your competitors are in comparison to each other.
This lets you see where you can make improvements and what topics to dive into. In fact, the competitors represented by bigger circles will give you more content ideas
5. Organic Search Performance
The same page will give you access to a ton of information on how your competition is doing organically.
This graph gives you a complete overview of traffic growth from the website’s inception through to present times. In this case, we can clearly see that the traffic for inc.com has been steadily on the rise since Jan 2012, there was also a sudden spike in data for Jan 2017, followed by a collapse in June 2017 only six months later.
You can further refine the data for the last 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, and 1 month.
In this case, we clicked on 1M on the top right of the graph. Doing so will shrink the graph and selectively display organic traffic data for the last month.
It is worth noting that this search data only gives you a rough idea of organic traffic. True organic data lies with the webmaster. Nevertheless, the data you see here is a fairly good estimate.
Doing Further Research on Keywords
Without leaving the page, you’ll notice there’s a list of keywords that are arranged based on their search volume.
Make sure to give a good look at this data in-depth by hitting the View Details button. This is extremely important and will let you know about all the keywords that they are ranking for, or are trying to increase their rank for.
Now, if the website is particularly popular and has gained a sizable following, then it will also have a lot of branded search traffic. Branded traffic refers to traffic from when users type in keywords that are a direct reference to your company’s brand, it could also be your name.
This is where you can filter out the results to find keywords that matter so that you can compete for them. You will receive a list of actionable keywords that deserve your attention.
Doing Keyword Research with SEMrush
SEMrush is widely known as one of the top keyword research tools out there. This is because it provides you with extremely refined results for your target keywords, including all the info you need on long-tail keywords, CPC data, and everything else.
To do this, carry out these steps:
- Visit semrush.com/analytics/keywordoverview
- Type in your target keywords
- Wait for the results to show
In this case, we chose to do research on ‘digital marketing’.
This is what the search results page looks like:
Notice that throughout this time we’ve been using the free version of SEMrush. You’ll have to sign up for their paid plans if you want to dig a little deeper. But for the most part, the research you carry out with the free trial version is all you need to do some serious SEO.
On the same page, scroll below to see a treasure trove of data. With the keyword research tool, you don’t even need to know who your competitors are. The data on keywords is all you need to make significant breakthroughs with your SEO campaign.
Here’s what the next half of the page looks like:
It is worth noting that ranking for the keyword ‘digital marketing’ is insanely hard unless you have lots of domain authority in this niche. Your best bet is to focus on keyword variations of digital marketing that draw in a sufficiently large search volume.
This is what you get with Keyword Variations, Questions, and Related Keywords.
For example, it is easier to rank for digital marketing agencies and digital marketing agency than it is for digital marketing. But if you’re just starting out, we recommend going for a long-tail keyword such as ‘digital marketing agency in Toronto’. These are much easier to rank for.
Under Questions, you’ll see a list of the most commonly asked questions that users type out in Google when carrying out their research. More importantly, the keywords give you a good idea of user intent when they type out their search query.
In this example, one of the questions is “what is digital marketing” with a massive search volume of 6.6k. This instantly gives us ideas for a new content strategy that revolves around answering this question. As a general rule, the higher the search volume, the more difficult it would be to rank for that keyword. Our advice is to start with lower search volume before gradually making your way up.
Finally, Related Keywords gives you access to keyword combinations that are very similar to your target keyword. Make sure to include these in your SEO strategy because they are usually easier to rank for.
Detailed Keyword Analytics
For deeper insight into keyword research, we recommend using the Keyword Magic too. It provides more data for each keyword, other than search volume and CPC. This data includes competition, SERP features, and keyword difficulty.
In the search bar that appears, type in your relevant keyword. In our example, we will enter our target keyword “mechanical keyboard”. The results page will look like the screenshot below:
This will give you access to all the relevant keywords for your SEO campaign. You can also click on “Export” at the top right of the screen to export over ar million of these keywords and save the data a sone file. The side bar lets you further narrow down your search in lesser time, to get suggestions you may not have considered before, like this result for “switch” as shown below:
It is possible to filter the results based on your search criteria. You can refine the search based on specific words, difficulty of competition, CPC, and keyword difficulty. The entire idea behind Keyword Magic is to minimize the time it takes to find relevant keywords. If you ever run out of ideas for content, this is the place you should start.
Detailed Keyword Analytics
What makes SEMrush so powerful is the detailed analytics it provides with the keyword research tool. You can focus on long tail keywords that are incredibly specific to your niche. You can do this by opening Keyword Overview by going to
Enter your target keyword into the search bar – we’ve continued with our example on “Mechanical Keyboard” – and press Enter. Note, you can enter multiple keywords to carry out a bulk analysis, but that requires access to the paid plan. For our intents and purposes, we’ll conduct research for a single keyword only.
Doing so will give you access to the following data:
- Phrase match keywords
- Related Keywords
- CPC data
- Number of results
You can also click on the Mobile tab at the top to see all the data for mobile searches:
And all it took to generate this information was a handful of clicks and a couple of seconds. This will save you a ton of time in your research.
And if you want, you can expand the research into long-tail keywords too, which brings us to our next topic…
In-depth Long-Tail Keyword Research
Long tail keywords are phrases that are more specific and longer than commonly searched keywords. For example, the keyword “keyboard” will generate millions more traffic than “what is a mechanical keyboard”, but it won’t have nearly the same conversion value since it is too generic. People searching for “keyword” won’t always have the intent to buy a product or service.
In fact, long tail keywords account for 70% of all web searches. The problem with long-tail keywords is that it can be hard to focus on the right choice for your SEO campaigns. This is where SEMrush comes in, it helps you search for, identify, and locate long-tail keywords for your content strategies and search optimization campaigns.
On the overview page, you’ll find a set of three boxes as seen below:
These results will be constantly updated based on your target keyword and their search volume. You can click on View All to further expand the keywords (but that would require a paid subscription). This will give you extra keyword ideas to help you find existing content. Before long, you’ll have established a solid foundation for an effective SEO campaign.
Keywords with a Specific Range of Monthly Search Volume (MSV)
You can further filter the keyword results by defining a range of volume. For example, you’re probably more interested in keywords that have search volume higher than a certain amount. You can create this filter using: Include > Volume > Greater than > X amount
You might also want to create a range of filters. For example:
Include > Volume > Greater than > X amount
Include > Volume > Less than > X amount
Finding Keywords with a Specific Word Count
You can filter the search results to only include long-tail keywords by specifying a certain word count. For example, you can create a filter like this: Include > Number of Words > Greater than > X words (usually 3).
Find All This Data in Another Country
SEMrush lets you find data for international SEO for different campaigns. You can select up to 28 different countries to see localized results.
You can also use SEMrush to find US-based rankings for Bing, but their capabilities on Bing are fairly limited.
In addition to Bing search results, SEMrush also lets you collect historical data for different websites. You can select the month and year in the top right corner. This will trigger a drop down menu that lets you choose any one of the last six months to view historical rankings. It is easy to export this data to a spreadsheet and use the VLOOKUP tool to evaluate position changes throughout different months.
You can easily carry out a backlink analysis of your own website using the free Google Webmasters tool, but it won’t be of much help for competitor analysis. This is one area where SEMrush proves to be particularly useful with its backlinks feature. In fact, it is one of the most efficient tools that lets you borrow ideas for your own link building strategy.
As you probably already know, backlinks from authoritative websites and referring domains plays an important role in your website’s overall rank on Google.
The Backlinks Report will provide you with different kinds of information, including:
The type of backlinks: Links from websites with low domain authority can easily damage your website’s overall ranking and can even cause deindexing of pages on search engines. This is why you need to regularly audit your backlink profile to avoid getting a penalty from Google. SEMrush also lets you create disavow files and list all the domains that you want to block.
The Relationship between Dofollow and Nofollow Backlinks: This feature lets you evaluate your website’s dofollow to nofollow ratio.
Referring domains: This tool gives you the complete breakdown of the list of domains that link back to your website including detailed information about their TLD authority (.com, .edu, org, etc) and geographical information. The information is useful if your business offers products and services in a particular region and you want to create a link building strategy in that region.
For example, if your website is providing services for the Canadian markets, you’ll probably want to create a good link building strategy that caters to referring domains with TLD authority of .ca. It is worth noting that .com websites usually yield higher ranking compared to other TDLs like .org and .net. Keep this in mind when you create your backlink profile.
Moreover, the backlinks report tool also provides you with more information about the exact date SEMrush detected your backlinks.
Anchors: This area provides you with information about the number of backlinks that also have a particular anchor text. The information will let you create more diverse anchor texts for text links, thereby improving the number of keywords that your website ranks for.
Referring IPs: This lets you find out the source of your backlinks based on IP addresses. For local websites, it is desirable for their backlinks to come from IP addresses from the same region as the local websites providing the services. It is better to create a strategy for local SEO if your clients are based in a particular region.
Below is a summary of the technical details you can analyze with SEMrush:
- Total backlinks from each IP address
- The country where the IP address is situated
Indexed Pages: You will get information about the total number of indexed pages on your website, the number of domains that are linking back to your website, and the number of backlinks for each particular page. Other useful information you will receive include external and internal links to a given page on your website, and the last known date on which SEMrush last saw the page.
Estimated Age of Backlink: One of the biggest issues with backlink indexes is that they’re sometimes outdated. This is why the First Seen and Last Seen columns are so useful because they allow you to identify the age of a backlink. That being said, we recommend using Screaming Frog to crawl all your backlink source pages to see if they’re still currently indexed.
A high volume of external links is an indication that the site has low quality or directory focused backlinks.
You can utilize the SEMrush backlinks feature to compare your backlink profile with those of your competitors who currently rank better than you. The more you know about your competitors, the greater your chances of outranking them. You can do this with SEMrush’s Backlinks Comparison tool that lets you compare your website with 5 different competitors.
As mentioned earlier, you can compare up to 5 competitors with your website for different features. The domain vs. domain feature gives you access to a table of results that can be compared with specific keywords between your competition and your website.
To start using the Backlink Comparison tool, simply follow this link:Click here for backlink Audit
Under the SEO Dashboard, click on Backlink Gap to start analyzing.
You’ll get a page that looks like the screenshot below:
Track Social Media Activities Using Social Media Tracker
SEMrush provides you with its powerful Social Media Tracker tool to let you take a closer look at the overall performance of your competitors when it comes to social media. You can use this tool to compare their social media presence with your own based on three key metrics; audience, engagement, and activity.
To get started, visit the project dashboard area and click on “Set Up” under Social Media tracker. This will take you to the configuration window where you will have to connect all your social media accounts (there is support for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more).
Next, you will have to enter the domains of your competitors. SEMrush lets you enter up to 20 different domains to analyze their social networks. You will get different types of data depending on the social networks that you’ve linked with SEMrush.
In just a few seconds, SEMrush will create an overview report that shows the website’s audience size, engagement, and activity on three separate columns. You can further tweak this report by selecting the data range that you want to analyze.
This will let you know how often your competitors post, where their biggest audiences lie, and engagement levels.
In addition if you scroll down to the Top Content section, you can see the most engaging post that your competitors have written over a specified time frame. You can also see most of their social media posts that got the highest engagement.
Scrolling down further will show you the “Comparison with Competitors” graph. Here you can compare your own website’s social media presence with your competitors based on three key metrics: audience, engagement and actvity. Make sure to click on the three titles at the top to change the data between the three metrics. You can also sort by the total number, growth, or change at the top right.
The tool also lets you add and remove different social media platforms from the data.
Find All About Paid Search
SEMrush lets you see the amount of traffic your competitors bring in through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisements.
Once you’ve gleaned organic search information about your competitors, it’s time to learn about paid competition. These competitors are paying for each click to increase traffic, but it doesn’t always result in conversions. Each click is a charge that has to be paid, which makes PPC an extremely refined art. There really is no room for mistakes here because you’re dealing with actual cash.
Choosing the wrong keyword will result in the entire PPC campaign going down the drain without a single sale. To avoid this, it is best to learn from your competitors and how they’re faring. These competitors may or may not be in the same niche, or they could be completely different. To evaluate paid search on SEMrush, click here:
enter your target domain into the search field. If you’ve never placed enough ads with Google, there’s a big chance that SEMrush won’t have much data to show. So instead, you can experiment with websites that are known for spending on Google Ads, a good example of this is Fiverr and Upwork.
Entering this information brings up your paid search competition, you will be able to see:
- The estimated ad budget (not very precise but gives you a good idea)
- How much competition exists
- The number of keywords you’re in competition for
- Howmuch traffic is being driven due to the advertisement
Depending on the search query, you may end up finding more competition than you did with organic search. You will also find a lot of variation on your competitors and the keywords that they use.
Make sure to export this information to come back and review it.
Check Out Google Ads
An important feature is being able to directly see the Google Ad that your competitor has put up. You can see this through Domain Overview.
Scroll down and you’ll see a section called “Sample Ads”.
This is a live steam of ads that your competitors are running right now. You can click on “View Full Report” to see the complete breakdown of all their ads that they’ve set up. Pay careful attention to how each ad is created, the number of keywords used, buzzwords used, and the promises they make.
Your goal is to get a good idea of their advertising copy that they use to convert. Here’s a golden rule you should remember: if the ad copy is working for them, there’s a good chance it’s going to work for you too.
Make a few adjustments to the ad copy and set up your own.
It is important to analyze ads that are relevant to your niche. Your competitor isn’t always targeting audiences and subjects other than yours.
Pro tip: Visit the landing page of the competitor to learn how you should set up your own.
Content Marketing Tool Kit
Step by Step Towards a Bright Content Future
- Find a Topic in Topic Research – An effective content plan is based on information about your audience’s interests. SEMrush Content Platform allows you to conduct topic research by giving you the full picture of what your audience needs in just a couple of clicks.
Create a content plan in Marketing Calendar –Planning and managing content activities requires constant monitoring. The SEMrush Content Platform helps you to keep track of your team tasks and deadlines to ensure all activities will be implemented in time.
Write an article with SEO Content Template – Quality, search-optimized content can improve your site visibility and increase the volume of traffic. SEMrush Content Platform provides you with a content template with recommendations on how to create winning content.
Optimize the article with SEO Writing Assistant – Content optimization of new or existing texts is no longer a time-consuming struggle with the help of the SEMrush Content Platform. Our writing assistant helps content creators to ensure their texts are unique and search-optimized in just a few clicks, right in Google document or WordPress account.
Analyze mentions in Brand Monitoring – Choose the most effective PR channels for content distribution and analyze your or your competitors’ brand presence there with the SEMrush Content Platform.
Measure impact in Post Tracking – The lifecycle of your content posted on external blogs doesn’t end with its publication. With the SEMrush Content Platform you can track the performance of up to 50 external articles, yours or your competitors’.
Revise and improve in Content Audit
This is very important for content based websites. This will help you in optimising your content and hence can expect better ranking in search engine ( Google )
How to Sign Up for 7-Day Free Trial Subscription
SEMrush is your insider tool into the world of digital marketing but there’s a catch – it’s not completely free. SEMrush offers a limited number of features (such as limited domain overviews) per day. Once you’ve exhausted your daily limit, you’ll have to wait for 24 hours before you’re allowed to use the tool again.
You can get complete access to all of these features with a free trial for 7-days, but you’ll have to give up your credit card information. When the free period is over, you may be automatically charged for an auto-renew subscription. SEMrush isn’t exactly cheap and costs $99.95 per month for the most basic plan. It goes up to $199.95 for the “Guru” plan and $399.95 for “Business”. For all the information that the tool provides, we feel you’re getting your money’s worth.
Here’s how you can start your free 7-day trial on SEMrush.
- Click on this link
- Click on Get 7-Day Trial
- Sign up by providing your email address and password
- You’ll be taken to the Free trialorder page
- Provide all your relevant details, along with credit card information.
- Submit all the details to start using your free trial.
You will be charged $99.95 at the end of your free trial. If you’re not happy with the services or feel you’re not ready to subscribe yet, make sure to cancel the trial before your 7 days are up.
So there you have it, our in-depth review of SEMrush. It is one of the longest reviews we’ve done so far, a testament to just how deep and useful SEMrush is. You’ve got all the tools you need to perform market research for new product ideas and services.
When it comes to keyword research, SEMrush doesn’t have a second close. It is very in-depth and the list of topics you can find for content ideas is very comprehensive. The backlink tool on the other hand is slightly limited. You may find Screaming Frog to be more useful for this purpose.
All of this information may seem a little overbearing, but getting over that learning curve will prove to be worth your time (and money).
If you starting a Blog or have Blog and its not generating traffic we recommend use for SEMrush for 6 Months atleast with $99.95 per month plan we are sure your money will be worth it as you able to write or change content according to research done. If you needed keyword research while writing your content then $199.95 for the “Guru” plan most suited for you as this gives keyword suggestions while writing your content. this will help you in ranking your content with different different keywords which have less competition.