on April 12, 2022 (last modified on December 2, 2022) • 27 minute read
Keyword research, competitive analysis, site audits, traffic analytics, link building. These are just some of the things you have to work on when creating a great SEO strategy for your company.
While SEO can be complicated and difficult to understand, this is still one of the best ways to draw traffic and improve your website’s search ranking.
However, going through the different research and analysis processes can become even harder if you don’t have the right digital marketing tools at your disposal.
This is where Semrush steps in.
Over the last few years, Semrush has become one of the most popular SEO tools for companies that need help optimizing their website for search engines and running digital marketing campaigns.
Do the advanced features and metrics in the software seem a bit too complicated to understand? Don’t worry, we will explain everything you need to know about Semrush and how you can use it to take your SEO strategy to the next level.
Semrush is a popular SEO tool for conducting keyword research, competitor analysis, and Google Ad optimization.
It is an all-in-one marketing reporting software designed to help digital marketers optimize their websites for better organic search traffic. You can also see how you stack up against your competitors and make better data-driven decisions around what keywords to target for both organic search efforts and Google ad campaigns.Many of the leading brands use Semrush, including Booking.com, Quora, HP, and eBay.
By using this advanced SEO tool, you can quickly recognize patterns and trends in your specific niche. This will allow you to review your on-page SEO and identify which areas need to be optimized for more efficient lead generation.
Additionally, Semrush is one of the best tools for keyword research. You will gain an insight into which keywords your competitors are applying and see how they are ranked. With the wealthy amount of data you receive, it will be much easier to stay on top of your competition and follow the latest trends.
Although Semrush is used by some of the biggest internet marketers in the world due to its variety of advanced features, it is also very suitable for beginners. You can easily navigate through the platform and even with limited experience, Semrush makes understanding SEO much easier.
To summarize, Semrush works by providing users with an abundance of information that can be used for:
Semrush does have a free version, but it comes with limited services and functionality. Some of the things you can do with a free account are:
While these features can be useful for beginners in digital marketing, the free version doesn’t offer nearly as much versatility and benefits as the paid version.
If you aren’t sure whether you should subscribe to Semrush, there is a 14-day free trial to test out their software. Paid plans range from $119.95 to $449.95 per month or $99.95 to $374.95 per month if you pay for an annual subscription.
They also offer an enterprise plan for big brands that require additional flexibility and customization.
Semrush and Google Analytics are currently the two most popular analytic tools among internet marketers. While they have some similar features, these two offer two completely different types of services.
The main difference between them is that Google Analytics is used by marketers to analyze the internal data on their website, while Semrush shifts the focus to external data and analyzes your competitor’s website.
Acquiring the internal data of your competitor’s website is not possible, so the information you get from Semrush is practically the next best thing.
If you want to understand how your visitors are behaving on your landing pages, there are several on-page events and metrics you can track from Google Analytics and Google Search Console that will help:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our SEO and website conversion experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for monitoring your landing page performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Contrary to Google Analytics, Ahrefs is much more similar to Semrush since it is also an SEO research tool that focuses on external elements of competitors’ websites.
Nowadays, both of these tools offer pretty much the same variety of features and services, but this hasn’t always been the case. Only a few years ago, Ahrefs was known strictly as a backlink analysis tool. However, the company decided to add an abundance of new features in the meantime, making Ahrefs a worthy competitor in the SEO research industry.
The main difference between Semrush and Ahrefs is the metrics they focus on. For example, if your primary focus will be analyzing the technical side of SEO (website health e.g.) and doing keyword research, then Semrush is your ideal option.
On the other hand, Ahrefs is more suitable for digital marketers that spend more time on link building and searching for backlink opportunities.
If you want more in-depth comparisons between the features of these two tools, you can check out Semrush vs Ahrefs comparison post.
Now that you know what exactly Semrush is and how it works, we can move on to the specific features that you can use to improve your overall search rankings.
Semrush provides users with dozens of features, but picking out the best ones might be a bit complicated if you are new to the software.
After talking to some of the leading digital marketers in the industry and conducting our original research, we came up with a list of those that stand out as the most useful for search ranking improvement.
Position tracking is widely known as Semrush’s most powerful feature. You can use it to check out the daily rankings of a website based on a custom group of target keywords. With all the different reports (tagging, sorting, filtering, exporting, etc.), you will acquire the data needed to analyze SEO and PPC performances.
Some of the key things that position tracking provides are:
“One of the most powerful Semrush features to improve your search rankings is Position Tracking,” says Sophie Burke of Bead the Change. “This will help you: track your positions for any keyword, discover local competitors, and group your keywords with tags.”
Related: The 23 Best Keyword Tracking Tools (According to 107 SEOs)
The On-Page SEO Checker feature provides users with a list of things they can do to enhance their website’s pages search rankings. This list includes keyword recommendations, ideas for optimizing on-page SEO, backlink probability, target content length, and much more.
All of these recommendations are based on the target keyword analysis of the biggest real-time competitors in your specific niche.
Jakub Rudnik of Shortlister said, “For improving rankings, no tool is more important than the On-Page SEO Checker tool. Creating the best content and the best-optimized content is the most effective way to improve rankings. Getting an analysis of your pages versus their competitors with actionable steps to improve your content is crucial.”
Related: Blog SEO: 47 Expert Tips for Optimizing Blog Posts for SEO
This feature is great for content writers who need a little help creating SEO content. It generates a template with suggestions on what to include, based on target keyword analysis.
Once you enter a specific keyword, Semrush will automatically generate a template for creating SEO-friendly content.
Some of the things included in the template are:
Eric Hoppe of Crowd Content adds, “I find their Semrush’s SEO Content Template to be a really helpful tool for evaluating how competitive a topic is, finding good subtopics and semantic keywords to cover, and finding the average word counts of the current top 10 ranked sites. If you can use this information when creating your content it goes a long way towards crafting content that will rank well.”
Related: How to Write a Blog Post Outline: Write Better Blogs with These 21 Tactics
“The Organic Traffic Insights tool is fantastic for finding quick-win opportunities,” says Sam Thomas of Embryo Digital. “Outside of your core keyword focus areas, you can find low-hanging fruit which is already driving small amounts of traffic, but with a little focus, could drastically increase the overall search rankings of a website with less resource than the typical high competition keywords. Both are important, but it’s a nice win for the client.”
The Organic Traffic Insights feature provides users with a comprehensive dashboard that includes data from your Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Semrush account.
This dashboard includes a handful of important information such as sessions, click-through rate, organic keyword volume, rankings from Semrush, rankings from Google Search Console, and much more.
You can use this information to figure out which keywords GA didn’t provide and cross-reference the different data sources. Once you are finished, you will see the big picture behind the organic search performance of your website.
One of the best ways to get an estimate of your website’s health is by using Semrush’s Site Audit feature.
This feature provides you with a categorized list of problems that explains in which areas your website is underperforming. Once you fix the issues in the list, you will enhance your website’s SEO efficiency.
The technical analysis covers everything from duplicate content and broken links to crawlability and HTTPS implementation.
To explain the importance of the Site Audit feature, here is one of the quotes we acquired when talking to the leading digital marketers.
Will C of ProLightingRental – Event Light Rental eCommerce Store said, “One of the most important features that my team relies on at ProLightingRental.com is the site auditing tool. This tool is fantastic for websites with a ton of custom coding and bespoke infrastructure. As a codebase becomes more complex, there can be a host of issues that can arise when you apply a new feature or even patch an existing bug.
Many of these issues can be to the detriment of the SEO of your site. Therefore, after every deployment – I run the site auditing functionality feature to ensure there is no damage to any SEO-related infrastructure like (but not limited to) content, layout, canonicals, metadata. On more than one occasion, I have been able to catch issues and therefore minimize any SEO ramifications due to deployments that were not QA’ed efficiently enough.”
Related: How to Conduct a DIY Technical SEO Audit: Start with These 17 Questions
The Keyword Magic Tool is probably the most popular tool on Semrush for conducting keyword research. You can use it to analyze specific niche topics, track semantically related keywords, and find which keywords could improve your website’s overall SEO.
With more than 20 billion keywords in Semrush’s database, this feature provides you with a comprehensive table that includes specific subgroups categorized by similar search terms.
“I am a huge fan of Semrush’s Keyword Magic tool,” says Blake Taylor of Synergy Business Brokers. “This tool is one of the most comprehensive keyword research tools on the market and makes identifying keyword opportunities easy. They also include a competition score, so you can get a good sense of what keyword opportunities to pursue that don’t have a ton of competition.”
You can use Keyword Gap Analysis to acquire a detailed comparison of keyword profiles of your top five competitors. By entering the domain and keyword ranking type, you will see the best opportunities for each individual website, how many keywords overlap, which keywords can be found on all of the five websites, and more.
This type of data can be helpful when making SEO strategies and campaigns since you will have an insight into which niche keywords are trending in real-time. Once you know what your competitors are doing, you will know which SEO efforts to prioritize.
Also, this analysis will provide you with keywords that are unique for your specific domain, thereby uncovering keyword gaps in your competitor’s campaigns.
“Semrush’s Keyword Gap feature is incredibly useful for identifying keywords that websites similar to yours rank for – especially because you can filter it to only keywords containing a certain phrase, or only those above a certain search volume,” says Dan Rawley of Twinkl Educational Publishing. “This allows you to easily build a list of the most valuable terms to target.”
Keyword Overview feature is used for acquiring information regarding the search volume of a specific keyword, result number, intent, CPC, level of competition, estimated value, and more.
This tool is especially helpful for beginner digital marketers that want to start their keyword research journey and find which terms they should target to attract more traffic.
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Agency said, “The most powerful Semrush feature to track and improve your search rankings is finding keywords where your website ranks on the 2nd page of Google. Once you find these pages and keywords, go to your page, add the keywords in H2, H3 tags as well as in the copy of your post. You can also link to that page from other pages of your website through internal linking with the right anchor text. Your pages will move up to the 1st page of Google searches shortly.
Don’t forget to always write for readers and for your audience, not for search engines. Therefore, when you add keywords to your content, make sure it’s relevant and makes sense. You don’t want to do keyword stuffing because this will hurt your user experience and readability of your posts.”
For the longest time, digital marketers had to manually check which keywords had gone up or down in rankings in the past few weeks, which is extremely time-consuming.
The Keyword Alert tool solved this issue by providing users with an advanced alert system that informs them on all the latest changes regarding their rankings. Whenever there is a change in a keyword ranking in your report, Semrush alerts you via email.
“The Alerts feature is helpful for quickly spotting when keywords drop a certain number of positions or fall outside the top 10,” says Robbie Richards. “With this insight, you can quickly identify the cause, and get to work recovering the rankings you worked so hard to achieve.”
The Keyword Tagging tool is used for tracking the growth metrics of your specific tag groups. This includes visibility percentage, traffic estimates, average position, and share of voice. This feature is great for analyzing how well your tagged keywords are doing in terms of visibility.
Side note: you can only use this feature if you apply for the Guru or Business Semrush subscription.
“The ability to tag keywords is a powerful feature that allows us to quickly see performance changes for groups of keywords,” says Bruce Hogan of SoftwarePundit. “We add multiple tags for all our keywords when they are uploaded. Then, each team member enters their tags into Semrush to get a view of recent search performance.”
This feature allows you to quickly acquire information about your website’s online presence through a wide range of overview metrics.
Some of the things you will see include paid search traffic, organic search traffic, backlinks, and more. After receiving the overview, you can further analyze the data by opening up the module-specific reports.
The Domain Overview tool is great for figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of your top competitors and quickly assessing which areas you should optimize on your website.
Here is a quote from one of the digital marketers that we talked to that explains just how important the Domain Overview feature is.
“Domain Overview,” says Seb Atkinson of Know Your Money. “This tool is a great way to keep tabs on competitor activity, uncovering their top pages and top organic keywords.
Domain Overview is a perfect starting point for competitor analysis. Starting with keyword ranking data, the tool also brings in link data to identify how various pieces of content are being promoted.
Furthermore, data can be exported and used alongside other Semrush modules such as Site Audit, to reverse-engineer a competitor’s strategy and learn how their technical set-up, content, and promotional activity combine to produce their search visibility.
By monitoring a range of competitors, you can get a feel for the top trends in your industry, helping to ensure your brand also has a presence for topics that rivals are being found for online. On the flip side, you can keep tabs on any competitor initiatives that may not be yielding the best results, helping you to learn from others’ mistakes and improve the chances of succeeding where others have failed.”
Traffic Analytics feature is essentially an advanced market research tool that estimates the desktop and mobile traffic of your website. You can use this tool to analyze the potential of a new market and create an efficient media buying plan.
The main benefit of this feature is that you will see where exactly your traffic is coming from, how your visitors engage with the website, and which devices they most commonly use.
Traffic Analytics is extremely helpful for professional marketing managers, researchers, and sales teams.
One of the most popular metrics in this feature is the traffic percentage metric and here is what one of the marketers had to say about it.
“For us, traffic % is a metric we use daily,” says Julien Raby of Thermo Gears. “It basically computes the estimated volume for a keyword and our current ranking to give us an estimated traffic volume for each keyword. While the exact numbers are usually off, we like to look at trends to see if we’re gaining volume or not in certain keywords categories.”
The Link Building feature is great for users who are searching for new link-building opportunities within their niche. Also, you will acquire an advanced interface that you can use to create an outreach campaign to attract backlinks.
There are four different tools within the feature, these include:
Ashley Sterling of The Loop Marketing adds, “Our team focuses on the link building/backlink tools provided by Semrush. This tool allows for daily reports on changes, alerts to potential toxic links, and the ability to perform outreach to link prospects.”
The Project Dashboard provides you with a summarized view of all the most important data and information you generated through Semrush.
You can connect your current projects and the dashboard will generate the widgets of data from the other features, allowing you to acquire the big picture of your project’s performance.
Jordan McCreery of Ingrained Media says, “The MOST powerful Semrush feature that I rely on daily for tracking and improving client search rankings is the Project Dashboard. Semrush is FULL of amazing tools, the Project Dashboard helps you to visualize all of the data in a summarized area. Your Site Health is shown through Site Audit, Position Tracking monitors your keyword changes, while the Organic Traffic Insights give a big picture of the total traffic in the period.”
We have added over 50 new Semrush metrics to our metrics library. This means there is no shortage of ways to visualize search rankings and site traffic in Databox.
With this wide selection of new metrics, you’ll be able to—
Here are some of the top metrics you can track.
Estimated traffic is the share of traffic driven to the website with a particular keyword. The metric can be found in the Position Tracking Report. While daily totals are not available for this metric, you can visualize traffic data cumulatively. This allows you to spot patterns.
These are the top keywords split up by position. Using the table layout, you can monitor fluctuations in your top keywords’ rankings on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
These are the total number of keywords that bring a domain to the top 3 of search results. Using this table layout, you can also visualize this by keywords in the top 10, 20, and 100.
In addition, you can view this as a line graph to see trends over time.
In this line graph, you can also visualize top keywords by position percentage.
If you want to see all of the top metrics in one table, this multi-metric Datablock displays the following metrics: Keywords in Top 10, Keywords in Top 100, Keywords in Top 20, Keywords in Top 3, Estimated Traffic, and Relative Visibility.
This is the overall average of all your rankings for the keywords in your campaigns split up by competitors.Using this table view, you can see how you stack up against your top competitors.
This is the overall average of all your rankings for the keywords in your campaigns.
Using this line graph, you can see how this changes over time.
These are the top keywords split up by estimated volume. This is helpful when planning out content marketing and PPC campaigns.
This is how relatively visible the domain, subdomain, or URL you are tracking is based on the keywords added to your Position Tracking Project.
When it comes to the variety of SEO features, there aren’t many tools out there that can compare to Semrush.
Semrush offers 50+ research and analytics tools to its users and while you will be able to acquire an abundance of data related to your SEO efforts, you will have to spend a lot of time tracking the changes.
For example, you will have to log in to your Semrush account each week to check out which keywords are dragging the traffic up/down or see which backlinks got broken.
This is why many users choose dashboards as an extra form of help.
Dashboards allow you to connect specific metrics in one place and track organic traffic in real-time, all in a single report.
Here are some free dashboard templates that you can integrate with your Semrush account.
The problem it solves: There is a steep drop-off in click rates for content that does not rank in the top 10 results for valuable search terms. According to a study from Advanced Web Ranking, 71% of all searches lead to a click on a page one result on Google. Even more dramatically, 55% of searches result in a click on one of the first three results!
So, marketers can see a big bump in traffic if they can get a high-traffic keyword from position 11 to position 10. And, they should see exponentially better results as their content gets closer to position 1.
Semrush uses a relative metric called “Visibility %” to summarize all your rankings. Since lower keywords are less visible on search engine result pages (SERPs), Semrush give you an estimate relative to your specific keywords. The higher your keyword rankings go, the higher the visibility percentage.
How to use the Semrush Keyword Milestones Dashboard: The left column tracks all top 3 and top 10 keywords related to your domain. This allows you to track your general SEO success since these determine visibility.
The middle column looks at the specific terms where you rank highly. If you rank in the top 3 (or number 1) for a well-trafficked term, you should go into Semrush to see which page is responsible for that high ranking.
The last column aligns visibility with organic traffic from Google Analytics. This is the ‘results’ column. When your visibility percentage goes up, you should see a rise in organic traffic as searchers actually click your links.
Questions it can answer:
The problem it solves: Semrush created a Site Audit Score to summarize all the different warnings and errors it finds. Although it ranges from 0-100%, there is no specific score that every site should aim for. The more pages you have, the more errors and warnings you will have. If you need a benchmark, use the tool on your competitors and see how you compare!
Pages Crawled gives you a baseline for all the pages that the crawler bot can find. Unless you recently took down pages on purpose, you do not want this number to trend downwards! That means errors are piling up.
How to use the Semrush audit dashboard: Use this dashboard to communicate your domain’s crawlability as well as any errors you accumulate. Errors are the most severe red flag, followed by warnings and then notices. You can use the crawl depth stats to make sure that most pages are three or less clicks away from the root. Those are the easiest to crawl.
The problem it solves: This dashboard examines all the key domain statistics provided by Semrush. It factors in both positive stats like keyword ranking, and negative stats, like errors that affect your domain authority and crawlability. Estimated traffic is Semrush’s internal metric that multiplies the volume of searches for each term by the click-through rate of that particular position.
How to use the Semrush Keywords and Audits dashboard: Make sure that any hard work on content marketing is supported by a clean, crawlable site. You do not want to put hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into content marketing simply to be handcuffed by an uncrawlable site.
The problem it solves: This dashboard gives an overview of all stats related to keywords. It measures the percentage of your site’s traffic that comes from organic sources in the first place. Then, it covers all your organic traffic initiatives, from keywords to visibility to estimated traffic.
How to use the Semrush Keyword Mission Control dashboard: This gives a general overview of your success in generating organic traffic. You can use it to align keyword metrics alongside traffic metrics. If you are successfully ranking highly for more keywords, organic traffic should go up. If it does not, you may want to check your Site Audit.
The problem it solves: According to our study, 3% of blog posts drive 80% of total blog traffic. And just 0.5% of posts drive 50% of traffic. So, even as your organic traffic builds over many months, you will continue to rely on your top 0.5% of posts. You can use these posts to decide where to focus your content production. Or, you can update/optimize these top posts with better CTAs to drive more leads or product sign-ups.
How to use the Blog Traffic Distribution dashboard: The left column ranks your blog posts based on organic traffic, and shows which posts are rising or falling in search rankings based on changes in traffic. The middle column clearly shows which posts make up a majority of traffic for the entire blog. In the case above, 3 posts make up 60% of traffic! The right column tracks all organic search traffic and the keywords that drive it.
With Google constantly making changes to its algorithm and updating its technology, staying on top of your SEO strategy can be a daunting task – even for the most experienced digital marketers.
While Semrush can be extremely helpful in this regard, there are simply too many metrics and data that you have to keep an eye on and following the changes quickly becomes overwhelming.
Using Databox can make this process much easier.
By connecting your Semrush account to Databox, you will be able to create one comprehensive dashboard that includes all the important information you receive from the various features. This will allow you to monitor and report your SEO data both quicker and easier.
Our custom dashboard software will provide you with the real-time updates happening in your Semrush account and you will be able to track the changes in one place, instead of going through the hassle of manually checking every single detail.
Plus, all the data you gather can become much more comprehensible by using some of our advanced visualization features. You can turn the dry data into beautiful customizable charts and graphs, making the information understandable to anyone who will look at the report.
Sign up to Databox for free and find out how easy tracking SEO data can be.
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