When we landed on their home page for the first time we noticed the list of some of their bigger clients including Philips, Expedia, Paypal, General Electric, Remax, Forbes, Wells Fargo and Hyatt. As you can see there are some pretty big names here plus they have over 200,000 members so they are obviously doing something right. But of course our aim is to see how well it works for people like us – individuals who make money online as affiliates.
The team at SEMrush provided us with a Pro Account which is the mostly widely used package according to the SEMrush website. The only difference between the Pro account and the more expensive Guru account as far as we can tell is the number of queries and reports allowable per day.
What is SEMrush?
SEMrush is an online software system that provides detailed statistical information relating to keywords, Adwords and competitors. In terms of your own sites it can tell you what keywords you rank for, how much traffic each of those keywords receives as a whole and the percentage of traffic that your site receives. In terms of your competitors sites it can provide information about what they rank for and the amount of traffic they receive for each keyword. You can also see what keywords your competitors target and use for optimization and Adwords.
Was SEMrush Easy to Setup?
SEMrush is an online based system so there is no setup. Once you purchase a package you simply need to login using your username and password. We had no issues with this part of the process.
When we first logged into SEMrush we were presented with the exact same screen that you see on the home page when you are logged out, so for a second I wasn’t even sure that I had logged in properly until I started to click on the tabs and realized that I was definitely logged in.
The Main Report
The first thing we tested was one of our own blogs. We wanted to see how our Affiliate Blog Online website was going. We don’t really worry too much about that site in terms of SEO nor do we check stats for it all that often so we wanted to see how it was doing despite all of that. We simply typed in our URL and clicked search and this is the result:
What SEMrush does is provide us with what they call a ‘Main Report’ which provides an extensive overview of our site. From this page we can then click on any of the links within the report to get even more detailed data.
For the moment we will just stick with what is displayed on this page starting with all of the keywords we are ranking for in the top 20 in Google. In the case of our Affiliate Blog Online site that is 112 keywords….just as well that site relies on word-of-mouth for traffic rather than Google but that’s another story.
From the image above you can see that SEMrush provides a number of different statistics:
1. The keywords that we are ranking for in Google.
2. The position where we are ranked for those keywords.
3. The volume of searches for that keyword per month.
4. The CPC – average cost per click in Adwords for the keyword.
5. The URL on our site that is ranking for that keyword.
6. The percentage of traffic that is coming to our site for that keyword.
7. Cost % – I couldn’t quite figure this one out but here is the definition from the site – The ratio of the estimated cost of buying the same number of visitors for this search query to the estimated cost of purchasing the same number of targeted visitors coming to the site from Google search results. – Make sense?
8. The competition in Adwords for that keyword.
9. The number of search results that appear in Google for that keyword.
10. The search trends for that keyword.
We can also analyze these results to see how we are ranking in a number of different Google country search results including:
Below this data is displayed the Adwords keywords. We don’t use Adwords so this table was empty for our website so I did a search for Amazon so you could see the results of how it would look. (Wow, Amazon is using over 2 million Adwords keywords.)
Below the Adwords data was the Competitors table detailing the sites that are our competitors in organic search.
And below that were three more Adwords related tables. Again I have used the Amazon site to show you how this looks since we don’t use Adwords. I like how it displays the actual ads that Amazon is using.
If you are into Adwords you will love using SEMrush. As you can see from the image above the data is extensive and that’s just what you can see from the Main Report. You can thoroughly analyze your competitors to see how they are using Adwords and what keywords they are specifically targeting. We’ll go into the Adwords reports in more detail further on in this review.
The final bits of information on the Main Report were in the sidebar with basic statistics relating to our site and links to those reports as well as a graph displaying the traffic growth for the last 12 months.
Using SEMrush for Keyword Research
Keyword research is an important part of SEO and SEMrush provides an amazing amount of keyword analysis data. To test the keyword research section of SEMrush I used the keyword ‘cell phones’ and when I typed it in to the search field this is the data that displayed:
As you can see the data is quite extensive. It not only displays the keywords but also the competing websites for that keyword for both organic search results and Adwords.
I also had the option to select from two other report types – a Phrase Match Report and a Related Keywords Report.
1. Phrase Match Report – provides a list of phrases that contain the main keyword. This is the equivalent of an exact match report.
2. Related Keywords Report – provides a list of keywords that are related to the main keyword.
Using SEMrush for Adwords Research
You can use SEMrush in one of two ways for Adwords research – by ‘keyword search’ and by ‘domain search’. If you want details for a keyword you simply type in your keyword and then scroll down to view the Adwords information relating to that keyword. It will display the top websites using that keyword in Google Adwords.
What I liked about this was that I could see the actual Google Adwords for each website by clicking on the Ad column.
And when I clicked on a site in that list I could see more detailed data about the site including all of the Adwords keywords they used and a full page listing of all of their ads.
When I searched by domain name I was given a list of all of the keywords that the website used in their Adwords campaigns. This is what it looked like for eBay:
Using SEMrush for Competition Research
I really like SEMrush for checking out the competition. You can type in a keyword or a domain name for this type of search.
When you type in a keyword you get a variety of reports:
When I typed in our own Affiliate Blog Online site to see what the competition looked like this is what came up:
It provided me with a list of competing websites and in the column next to each website it provided the number of ‘common keywords’. In other words, the keywords that we are both ranking for in the top 20 in Google. When I clicked on the common keywords for the first site on the list (ie. amazon.com) this is the information that displayed:
You can see that it displays the keywords and where our website is ranked compared to Amazon.com.
If you are after specific data then SEMrush can provide it. However, this is at an extra cost.
Can you Use SEMrush on More Than One Computer?
Since Wanda and I work as a team we always ensure that when we purchase software or sign up to a membership site that we are both able to be logged in at the same time. Fortunately SEMrush does provide this facility. And because it is online based you can log in from any computer.
Limitations of SEMrush
What About Help and Support?
We didn’t really find anything particularly difficult about SEMrush. You simply click on tabs or links and hey presto there is the information. The only difficult thing we found was figuring out what some of the data actually meant.
Of course there is an online manual with both written data and video tutorials on how to run reports, find competing sites and search for keywords. However, we found them to be lacking in some respects. For instance, I wanted to know what a ‘Phrase Match Report’ was but the only information to be found about it in the manual section was one sentence that didn’t really explain it – “This report contains search queries that include a keyword (phrase) under study.” I eventually found the answer I was after in one of the videos but to be honest I don’t want to have to trawl through videos to get the information I am after. I would rather see it in print so I think this area of the site could be improved upon.
As far as I can tell there is no obvious support area on the site nor do they have a forum. The only thing I could find is a Contact Us link at the top of every screen which allows you to contact them for technical or other issues.
Since it is online based it is probably not likely you are going to have a lot of support type issues compared to say a piece of software you might have installed on your computer.
What’s the Difference Between Free, Pro and Guru Packages?
You can use Semrush for free however it does limit the number of results you are able to view – only 10 queries a day and you can only see the top 5 or 10 results depending on the report that you are in. And you can’t view Adwords statistics.
The Pro Version is the most popular and it allows full reports and the ability to make 3000 queries a day and receive a maximum of 10,000 results per query. I played with it for a few days while I was writing this review and the best I could do was use around 50 or so queries per day so as an individual you would probably find it quite difficult to use up all of those queries in a day.
The Guru package, which is the most expensive, allows 5000 queries per day and a maximum of 30,000 results per report.
Our Final Word
SEMrush is a solid piece of software that provides a plethora of information and it’s fairly intuitive so you aren’t left wondering what you need to click on next. The online manual could do with some work but apart from that there isn’t much else we can say in the way of negatives.
I would think that anyone using Adwords would get fantastic value from the data that SEMrush provides. The amount of time saved on analyzing competing Adwords sites would make it a must have.
As for keyword research, SEMrush excels at it. If you want to find those keywords that are getting the most volume in Google then SEMrush will provide it and tell you how competitive those keywords are at the same time. And you can easily check out which sites are ranking for those keywords and analyze them so you know how difficult they will be to beat.
If you are a professional online marketer than SEMrush really is a time saver.
Do You Want to Try SEMrush?
You can test the free version which can give you an idea of what’s included or if you want to try out the full version you can pay for a single month so you aren’t committed to a monthly payment.