5 Reasons to Use SEMrush: Tool Review
Search Engine Optimisation

5 Reasons to Use SEMrush: Tool Review

12th August 2014

I work with small to medium sized businesses helping them to optimise and make the most of their website, normally within a small budget. I have been looking into more tools that I can use for my clients to help maximise their online visibility and give some insights into their competitors and marketing activity. At the same time, I was offered a free trial of SEMrush which I reviewed and now want to share with State of Digital readers. Rishi has written up a great review of SEMrush, I am not going to compete with his 32 page document but wanted to highlight some of the key features of the tool which include:

  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Site Audit
  • Backlink Analysis
  • Tools 

1) Keyword Research

My blog, being30.com is about budget travel and my goal of 2014 is to write more content around travelling to some of the major cities in the world on a budget. I therefore wanted to find more information about “budget travel” terms. I used SEMrush to help me find keywords around this phrase. Travelling on a budget highlighted What I really like about the tool is that there is a SERP result (in the highlighted box above), so you can see what the search engine result pages look when typing in that key term. SEMrush also clearly separates out the related terms to “budget travel”. One of the most important things about travelling is having a guide to be able to discover the new destination. The keyword research tool also allows the user to look deeper into the related terms. This means I do not just see the phrase matches, but also terms that I may not have initially thought about using in my posts. It gives the user a large amount of data. In my case, I wanted to find more related terms to “budget travel”. One of the keywords which was of interest, was “travel guide”. Everyone needs a travel guide when they visit a new place and sometimes having a travel guide will point out the cheaper places to eat/drink and the free tourist attractions to visit, making it an even better holiday experience . Budget Travel RelatedWhat is great about SEMrush is that once I clicked on the “travel guide” SEMrush shows a phrase match report, as well as related keywords.  A user could easily spend lots of time diving deeper and deeper into a keyword, looking for more related terms. I decided to stop at “travel guide” as one of the related keywords was “Lonely Planet” which is also a competitor.  I wanted to find more.Drilling Down Further Related Keywords Highlights I know Lonely Planet is one of the larger sites and as the owner of a small travel blog, it is interesting to analyse the competitors in the travel sector. 

2) Competitor Research

The second area of SEMrush that I used once I had looked at the keywords, were the competitors competing for the term “travel guide”. I wanted to see how Lonely Planet compared with the rest of the travel sites in the market. I clicked on Lonely Planet from the above screenshot and was taken to a page all about Lonely Planet. Competitor Overview HighlightedThere is a lot of information on this page including the number of keywords bringing users to the site (through the top 20 organic results. What is also interesting is that it shows the estimated cost this organic traffic would have been if it had been paid. I really like the graph on the top right which shows the traffic the site and also shows a drop in traffic due to an algorithm update. In some ways there could be too much information on this page, but that is another reason why I like SEMrush. This is great overview on how a site is performing and is easy to insert your own site’s URL to see how they are performing against others in the market place. Remember to remove the http:// in the search box below.Big Circles Competitors I was very interested in the Competitive Positing Map as below. It shows the strengths and weakness of competitor’s domains in organic search. It is based on the organic traffic of the competitors and the number of keywords they are ranking for in Google (in the top 20 positions). Big Circles Competitors

3) Site Audit

I really like the functionality of the overall site audit which is part of the Tools section of SEMrush. The site audit gives a great overview of the traffic to the site. It is a also highlights if the site has been hit by a penalty. I found the site audit tool could be used in three main ways:

–       Highlight penalties

–       Research before pitches to get an estimation of traffic for a site

–       Highlight peaks in traffic

I have not seen a tool such as this except for in Searchmetrics which gives the PPC and SEO traffic to a site. Clients love seeing how their site and their competitors are appearing in the search engine result pages (SERPs). They also appreciate seeing the drop/peak in traffic which may be due to a penalty.  If working on a pitch, it is important to point out if a client has experienced a penalty and provide solutions for this. Traffic Overview

4) Backlink Analysis

I have spent a lot of time analyzing links for my clients, some have had penalties, others wanted to have a link review which I encourage many to do. Therefore I was interested to check out the link tool for SEMrush. I normally use MajesticSEO and I am not going to replace straight away. However it is good to see other tools in the market place and see how they show this data. SEMrush displays the follow links and the nofollow links in a pie chart fashion. It also records the domains according to TLD – eg .com, org, .net. Backlink analysis Lonely   I would use the SEMrush tool when running against MajesticSEO to see comparison of data, but at this stage I will be reporting on MajesticSEO.

5) Tools

I used the Tools section in SEMrush and selected the “Domain vs domain” side bar. I really like the Venn Diagram as shown below when I entered the competitors of lonelyplanet in the “domain vs domain” section of the tools. The section above the Venn diagram shows the number of keywords the sites are competing against. From the Venn diagram, it is easy to see that TripAdvisor.co.uk has the highest number of keywords where there is no overlap by other sites. Competitors Venn DiagramIf a user clicks on the keyword part of the report, they can see the organic rankings of all the keywords of the competitors. It also diplays the volume, the CPC and the Competitive density. Results column shows the number of URLs displaying in organic search results for the keywords. The last column is “trend” which is the interest of searchers during the last 12 months.Competitors Tools KW highlight


SEMrush is an extremely useful and adaptive tool, which allows the user to research information relevant to their clients. It gives a broader picture of the clients’ industry and highlight the value of SEO in the marketing work place. The keyword research tool, the competitor audit and the Tools section were the most useful aspects, I found from SEMrush. Those who work in SEO, understand the fast paced nature of the industry.  As such, there are always new tools coming out in the market place and sometimes it can seem as though there are an overwhelming number of tools to try out.  We are all busy in our jobs, however, even if you are time poor, I would certainly recommend SEMrush as one of a suite of tools to use for anyone working in search. If you have used SEMrush before and have any comments, I would love to hear from you.


Written By
Jo Juliana Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.
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