Semrush Review 2021: Worth the Money?
YES! Blog post over.
Over the last 12 years in digital marketing, I’ve tried and tested hundreds of Software as a Service (SAAS) products. I am on an eternal quest to find the perfect tech stack to maximize my work efforts throughout the day and automate my life.
Some products are hot garbage that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies. I’m not going to name-drop; that would be petty. But every once in a while I come across a tool that is too good to let go.
Enter SEMRush. You will be hard-pressed to find another tool that lets you…
Ok, it doesn’t do them all…but it does do a TON of things that marketers need to be successful.
Join me on this journey/lovefest of how SEMRush makes my life easier.
What is Semrush?
Semrush is your one-stop SEO and keyword marketing suite offering the most number of features imaginable to scale your business in the world of digital marketing. From performing insightful competitor analyses to optimizing your website for maximum organic traffic, you can use the tool to generate effective and long-term results for your website.
One of the reasons for the tool’s massive popularity is that instead of having to walk the same path as your competitors, committing the same series of mistakes, and running into similar dead-ends, you can simply use the software to find out what’s working for them and remodel the success formula into your business.
But while it’s a great tool for online businesses, like most digital solutions, it may not be completely loophole-free. Here’s a summarized review of both the benefits and downsides of investing in this popular marketing suite.
|Incredible tool to finding relevant affiliate websites
A great analysis tool for competitor analysis
|Although it’s sufficiently user-friendly, there are still some tech skills involved|
|Robust SEO optimization features||The wide assortment of features can prove a bit too much|
|Keyword extraction and keyword gap detection||Can simplify UI to enhance user experience|
|Flexible with add-on features making it suitable for both large and small businesses||Fledgling businesses may find Semrush pricing on the expensive side|
|Competitive digital marketing features||So much data can be overwhelming|
|Free trial available|
|Robust competitive research
Incredible user resource center and training modules
Semrush Review: A Quick Overview of Its Features.
Semrush offers some killer features that businesses simply cannot glean over. It’s like fixing a spy-cam to your competitor’s office floor, learning their best secrets, but most importantly, drawing on them to create your own success blueprint.
The tool is designed for anyone planning to start a business online, small scale businesses that are quickly upscaling, and medium-sized businesses looking for a management kit. Its best features aim to provide solutions for bloggers, marketers and influencers, marketing agencies, and digital businesses.
- Comprehensive keyword database: Semrush’s humongous keyword database for Google is undoubtedly its best feature. With over 20 billion keywords that get updated regularly and historical data charts, its keyword suite is a wonder in its own right. You can also retrieve more keywords without having to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
- Fast Search engine rank tracking: Since Semrush tracks keywords and sites regularly, it keeps the users daily informed of the website's rankings. This enables users to track positions accurately.
- Top-tier project management: When it comes to managing your projects, any new releases or updates, Semrush can come in super handy. You can use the tool to figure out the right keywords to land your projects higher, check how well it’s doing on the various search engines, and scrutinize other important elements for your projects. This can include analyzing competitor performance, industry benchmarking, etc.
- Advanced Reporting: Semrush allows users to create a custom report for their company, team, or management. There are options for both white label and branded reports. You can choose to schedule these and/or integrate the reports with other management and tracking tools such as Google Analytics and Google My Business, etc.
- Complete marketing suite: Not only does it audit your websites along with your competitors’, but it also gives you a chance to work with SEO content templates, the topics you can research, assist your sites with writing and monitoring, and much more.
- Local listing management tool: With Semrush you can track your company’s position in your locale. While local listing review will cost you extra, the feature gives users a local SEO listing management module that works by local position tracking, local heatmaps, and managing customer reviews.
- Banklink Monitoring: The tool can assign websites toxicity scores based on the number of bogus backlinks that the site uses.
Detailed Review of Semrush Features.
As a one-stop suite that caters to both your SEO as well as digital marketing needs, simply listing its great features would not suffice. To help readers decide whether or not Semrush is the ultimate marketing and keyword solution, we’ll need a more comprehensive review analyzing each of its major features in detail. We will also outline the pricing packages so you can see whether the benefits will ultimately offset the Semrush pricing or not.
Keyword Research in Semrush.
It’s now common knowledge that Semrush boasts one of the most comprehensive keyword research tools. It’s simply not possible to share a detailed review of Semrush features without speaking of its keyword search volume. With more than 20 billion keywords, it is one of the biggest databases in the world.
This is why my analysis will begin with reviewing the strength of its keyword toolkit.
First comes the keyword dashboard. Once you log onto Semrush’s dashboard, you’ll meet the Keyword Overview page.
This gives you an in-depth report for any keyword of your choice. Simply insert the keyword, and the tool will list important metrics such as target keywords, keyword volume, volume trend, SERP features, results keyword difficulty score. It also provides a global competitive keyword report which can help you decide which keywords to try for rankings in your country, and whether it’s worth competing for that keyword or not.
There are other features included in the toolkit that makes your keyword search journey a lot easier. For example, Semrush offers users the ability to find related keywords, potential variations, and the questions that are featuring these keywords.
But we have yet to discuss its greatest keyword-related feature: the Keyword Magic Tool. With this tool, finding the right keyword that matches your niche and is relevant to your brand becomes a breeze. All you have to do is type the name of your niche, the most pertinent keyword related to the niche or your industry, and you will get an extensive list of the most relevant keywords that match your original word and can help rank your site higher.
On the left sidebar, there is also a cluster of keywords given for users to explore. You simply click on the keywords and begin digging deeper into all the potential keywords you can rank for. It’s up to you whether you want to use the related keywords listed or opt for broad match, exact match, and phrase match, although the latter may serve better for ad purposes.
When it comes to SEO, long-tail keywords are more effective. They are also less targeted which makes it easier to use them for ranking. Semrush can give you a comprehensive list of long-tail keywords you can rank for.
All of these metrics, starting from SERP results, global comparative research to keyword difficulty score and volume for each keyword are listed in a tabular form so you get the most pertinent insights at a single glance.
A great way to utilize Semrush’s ginormous keyword database is to shortlist the most pertinent keywords that you think will help you rank higher more easily. You can also create your own list featuring these shortlisted keywords and customize them for further use. This is done by simply adding the keyword to our custom list by clicking the + sign.
You can use Semrush’s “Keyword Manager” to customize your lists. The tool is listed right under the “Keyword Research” tab. All you have to do is to choose “create a new list”, add a name, and your list is created.
Finally, another great Semrush feature is the Keyword Difficulty Tool. The accuracy of this tool is what takes Semrush’s keyword functionality up a notch. It’s a great feature that will nudge you closer to creating the perfect and most dependable keyword custom list for your website.
There are several metrics that you must take into account before you settle on a keyword such as the keyword volume, global trend, etc. A keyword’s difficulty score is an analysis of its competitiveness. You might not want to invest a lot of energy in a keyword with an extremely high difficulty score. Chances are, most popular websites have already targeted the keyword and ranked higher for it. The best thing you can do to increase your chances of ranking higher is to look for a related or closely matching keyword with a low difficulty score.
My advice would be to shortlist the best keywords using the Keyword Magic Tool and finalizing the list with the difficulty index after performing competitor research.
Along with the difficulty index, the toolkit also gives you Organic Traffic Insight. This combines Semrush data with data from other keyword tool kits such as Google Analytics and the Google Search Console data.
This is a great Semrush feature for several reasons. Firstly, the integration of your Semrush data with metrics from other sources gives a chance to consolidate and analyze the data from the same dashboard. This means that you now get to lay your hands on the most comprehensive suite of keywords that can generate results. Once created, you can use the list for SEO, advertising, and digital marketing.
How to use Semrush for link building.
Speaking of efficient Semrush tools, we cannot miss its link-building feature.
Link building refers to the process of creating a network of associated web pages by linking other sites to your own. This involves dropping the URL for other websites into your webpage. Now why this is important is because search engines reward sites that have more links pointing towards them with higher rankings. This makes link-building vital to the success of your SEO projects. The catch is for the links to come from high-quality websites that already rank high up on Google.
The way Semrush helps you here is by a) performing in-depth competitor analysis and finding out what they are ranking high for, b) auditing the content on your website, c) asking you for your custom keyword list, and d) creating a list of potential websites that you can use for your backlink profile or request for guest posting.
Creating a custom list of potential websites that can expand your outreach is one thing. Semrush being an all-rounded suite also provides you with tools that you can use to reach out to these sites. For example, you can integrate your email address with the Semrush mailbox and use the tool to send out emails to these sites. Doing this from within the tool is advantageous because Semrush will also track your progress with these outreach emails for you.
The tool can also provide you with email addresses for each of the websites it locates on its list, and save your outreach emails as reusable templates for the future. It’s more than what most businesses can hope for at least when it comes to a link-building assistant. There is hardly another Semrush competitor with a link-building suite that is as intuitive as the one offered by them.
Broken link building.
Another great and related SEO tactic here is broken link building. These are links that essentially lead to nowhere and are identified as the 404 errors.
Here is how you can use it for your website. Semrush will locate the broken links. You can then rewrite the content for the link, and then send outreach emails to all the links that were previously pointing to the dead content, asking them to now point to yours instead.
It is a valuable tactic that will allow you to create backlinks faster for your website provided it’s done right.
There is, however, a catch. Unlike many of Semrush’s other tools, its broken link feature is not the most easily accessible. You will have to begin with running a backlink report and get to the “indexed” pages section. Here you will find the “target errors” option. Upon clicking, you will be asked to export results to an Excel or CSV file. After exporting you can sort the file for identifying the broken links.
While the process here is a bit tedious, some of the hard work here is compensated by the import file option. After creating your broken links file, you can re-import it to Semrush bringing back all of the relevant email addresses. Once done, you can begin sending outreach emails to these addresses from within the tool.
Content Marketing Tools in Semrush.
Speaking of great Semrush features, its Content Marketing Toolkit offers an array of support options that can optimize your website’s content to help it rank higher on search engines.
It not only recommends topics that are in vogue and match your niche but also tracks your content’s performance and analyzes it for greater optimization. There’s also a competitive intelligence feature to help you tweak your content marketing approach.
Semrush’s Suite of Content Ideas.
As you log into Semrush’s content marketing resource pack, you will begin with Topic Research. We are looking at a powerful support feature with great functionality and sound topic ideas to help you create highly targeted content.
There are a number of reasons why this may be the best feature from the content marketing arsenal.
Let’s begin with a few best ones.
Ease-of-use: It simply does not get any simpler than that. All you are required to do is to feed your favorite keyword and let the tool do its magic. It will instantly generate a list of great content ideas for your use.
The extensive list for future topics: The tool also lists sub-topics that match with your niche or keyword that others are probably not thinking of
Title suggestions: There are also suggestions for catchy and keyword-friendly titles for your content pieces as well as other supporting metrics to help you land the right content ideas.
But wait because the best part is yet to come. As you look through the list of possible content ideas, you will find a detailed list of content queries and what, why, how questions that users are feeding into search engines for answers. Based on the volumes of specific queries, you can create highly matched and targeted content for your audience.
You should obviously create content answering those questions that are most pertinent to your niche.
Optimizing Your Content with SEO Writing Assistant.
One of Semrush’s most overlooked features SEO Writing Assistant offers a wide conglomerate of support options making it a solid virtual assistant. On a surface level, it works like most language editors, looking for grammar errors and improving readability.
But here is how it can be different from an average online text editor.
While most online editors only improve readability by correcting grammatical mishaps, SEO Writing Assistant checks readability from an SEO point of view. That is, it helps you improve your writing quality as well as make it commensurate with the various SEO standards of high-end content to help your content land higher.
What’s more, is that you can also integrate this tool with your preferred writing platforms such as Word, and Google Docs, etc., saving you the hassle of writing and copying texts on different platforms for on-the-go optimization.
Content optimization via Semrush does not stop with posting. Once you’ve published your content, you can use the Post Tracking feature to keep tabs on your content’s performance.
Post Tracking allows you to track up to 50 different posts at the same time including posts published by competing sites. Here are some of the important metrics you will benefit from.
You can also set up a time limit for tracking to make room for tracking your recent posts.
But keep in mind that the Post Tracking tool is not the only analyzer feature in the system. It is also slightly restrictive. For a more comprehensive assessment of your posts’ performance, we recommend using Semrush’s Content Analyzer.
With Content Analyzer, you can examine thousands of posts for a performance analytic. And it does not stop there. The tool follows performance analysis with recommendations and suggestions for posts that can be updated or revised for newer keywords.
Using the Post Tracking tool on a regular basis along with the Content Audit tool makes the perfect recipe for a nicely optimized piece guaranteed to rank higher.
A fairly recent addition to Semrush’s Content Marketing toolkit is Content Marketplace. A revolutionary support feature, it essentially lets you “buy” content at quite a reasonable price. There are two ways to go about it. You can either subscribe to Semrush’s monthly subscription plans and buy content at discounted rates or directly buy various types of content at different rates on a service basis. An annual subscription will provide you with a 17% discount against the rates you would have to pay per service every month.
The Content Marketplace offers more than text pieces. It contains a comprehensive stock of media content including pictures, vector images, videos, icons, symbols, etc. If you wish to share your workspace on Semrush with other team members (up to 3), you can opt for Shared Workspaces but that will require you to upgrade to their premium plan.
Semrush’s backlink functionality keeps you abreast of not only backlinks for your website but also your competitors.
There are a few related metrics this tool sheds light on including your backlink authority score, the total number of backlinks operating, the quality of domains referred, and much more. For your ease, we advise you to make use of the tool competitor feature, add up to four competitor domains and run a comparative performance analysis for the backlinks.
Other than backlink analytics, you can use Semrush’s Backlink Audit Tool for a more functional analysis of the toxicity of your backlinks. The tool uses toxicity markers for spammy backlinks providing you with a quick fix to avoid Google penalties.
You can then work your way toward improving your links and minimizing the toxicity.
The process is pretty simple. All you need to do is enter a domain name and it will identify all the backlinks pointing towards it. You can further break down the analysis into the anchor text used for these links, the top-level domain distribution (eg. .com, .org, .gov links), etc.
The information is set up in a very user-friendly manner. You can keep a score of how many backlinks a domain has acquired or lost, the value of these backlinks, and gain insight into your competitors’ performance.
The accuracy of Semrush’s backlink reports obviously depends on the tool’s backlink database, its size, and quality. Semrush boasts a database of around 43 trillion URLs. Compared to it, Moz, Ahrefs, and Majestic SEO, three of Semrush’s strongest competitors, claim databases of 26 trillion URLs and 10 trillion URLs respectively.
Going by these statistics alone, it’s obvious that at the moment Semrush is in a position to provide the most comprehensive analysis of a website’s backlink status, and identifying more linking domains than any of its competitors.
With Semrush’s backlink audits, you have another way to perform backlink analysis for your sites. This is where you can wipe out or minimize the toxicity of backlinks that point to your site.
Simply put, Semrush will run a quick check and identify a list of spammy backlinks. Since toxic backlinks can result in penalties from search engines and a drop in rankings, you can report the file to Google to “disavow” it.
Once informed, Google will not penalize you for the low-quality backlinks pointing to your site. We recommend you perform the toxicity check carefully and read Google’s guidelines before uploading any disavowal file.
On the other hand, you can always whitelist backlinks that you feel were falsely reported as toxic.
Domain analysis is where most SEO projects start for large and small businesses. You must assess the quality of your domain before launching into an SEO project.
By performing a domain analysis, preferably on your own website, you can get an instant overview of where the gaps reside for improvement, where do your competitors stand, and how difficult or easy would it be to outrank them.
This kind of domain analysis will also help you make a more informed decision about whether or not it is worth reaching out to a particular website for backlinks. Remember that high-quality backlinks can really boost your ranking on the search engine and they always come from premium websites.
Performing a domain analysis in Semrush is a matter of seconds. Find the “domain overview” tab and feed the URL in question. The tool will provide all related metrics including an authority score, number of visitors each month, number of backlinks, keywords that websites rank for, best-performing keywords, anchor text used in the backlinks, advertising statistics, etc.
Authority score that was previously a bit obscured on the site’s interface, is now moved to the foreground right at the center of the domain overview section. It is perhaps one of the most efficient metrics that give an immediate insight into the quality of a website. It is an automated score based on a website’s backlink data, organic search traffic, keyword placements, and monthly visits.
Since the traffic figures are at best just estimates, Semrush’s traffic data may not be 100 percent accurate but nor does it claim to be as such. It even gives users an estimate of accuracy for its traffic results ranging from low to medium and high.
The traffic stats are there to give you an overview or a rough idea of the popular websites and the ones you should avoid for toxic backlinks and compare your site’s popularity against your competitors’. To help you further, Semrush also offers a “competitive positioning map” that fits websites into a particular market on the basis of their popularity ranking. All in all, its domain analysis ability is pretty comprehensive when compared with what is being offered by its key competitors.
Alongside other important functionalities, Semrush also offers site audits. This is a great feature that runs you a special website check to identify any loopholes that result in hurting your site’s ranking. Some of the common issues that the website auditing tool looks out for include
- Content that takes too long to load
- Repetitive content
- Crawl errors and SSL problems
- Absent headers
- Keyword stuffing
With such a list of issues at your disposal, you can immediately rectify them using either Semrush’s on-page SEO checker or export your files to widespread project management apps such as Trello or Zapier.
Semrush’s inbuilt SEO checker can also identify the issues and provide tips for redress and improvement. Most of these are fairly implementable and listed in order of priority.
Some of the common tips include keyword suggestions, steps to make your page appear as a “featured snippet” on Google, suggestions to improve your content and meta, content length, websites you can reach out to for backlinks, and internal link building tips, etc.
One reason why we think that site auditing might be the second greatest of Semrush features, after keywords, is that each of its tips is accompanied by a “Why should I do this?” support section. By reading the rationale alone, you can increase your SEO knowledge manifold. We can hardly think of another tool that offers an SEO suite that is as intuitive as the one offered by Semrush.
Amid the hoard of Semrush features, there is also the option for ad builder. Typically, your ad copy follows the keyword and related creative research, and Semrush is equipped to assist you here as well with its one and only Ad Builder Tool.
Semrush Ad Builder tool will help with both designing the text as well as displaying the ads. It also offers other assistive features. These include, but are not limited to,
- Character limit warning to prevent you from exceeding limits
- Providing you with templates of successful ads from your competitors
- Generating an automated tracking code to help you keep tabs on your ads’ progress
- preview option as well as the option to export text ads as a . CSV file and GDN ads as a . ZIP file
Social Media Tracker.
The Social Media Tracker is another popular Semrush Feature that can do wonders for your online business.
For many, this may be news. Yes, Semrush is primarily an SEO toolkit but the fact that it can manage your social media alongside your business needs is exactly what makes it special.
With Semrush, you’ve got both your digital presence and your SEO game covered. And it does so via the following tools.
Social Media Tracker for Performance Analysis.
Semrush’s Social Media Tracker keeps a score of how well your profiles perform on the various platforms all from one single interface. And you can also use it to rack your competitors’ performance. The best thing you can do is to add the profile of your key competitors and run a comparative test regularly.
The Tracker keeps you informed of a number of metrics such as your social media following, engagement rates, number of posts shared, etc.
Use Semrush’s Social Media Poster for Regularity.
This tool allows you to upload your posts on Semrush and schedule them to be posted on various channels in the future. Semrush can take care of bulk uploads so you do not have to. Whenever you put up these posts, you can also embed them with a UTM code for tracking.
There’s also the option to create an editorial calendar as well as importing posts from a CSV file to excel if you prefer the Excel-based format.
Social Media Poster Tool for Trend and Engagement.
The tool contains an analytics section dedicated to tracking the performance of your posts and catching any specific trends. You can develop keen insights into the audience demographic, user engagement, and the reasons why some of your posts are doing better than others.
Special Facebook Feature and Ads Creation.
There’s also a special feature solely designed to boost your performance on Facebook. You can pay for an increase in target reach as well as keep tabs on the boost this feature gets you. With the custom audience feature, you can also control your ad's visibility and who gets to see them.
Semrush as an Affiliate Manager.
All the review points are great use cases for the entire marketing team. But I’m an affiliate manager, so here are the tools that I utilize the most.
- Keyword Magic Tool. Find the right keyword that matches your niche. This tool is going to shoot out all the most relevant results with surrounding keywords. Now take each list and grab the top 50 websites that rank for each keyword. Boom! Instant hit list created. No just use this blog post to learn next steps on finding contact info.
- Backlink Analysis. Use this tool to find all the backlinks of your competitors. Many of these backlinks will lead to affiliates. Download the list and start filtering out the sites that really matter. You can even categorize the type of site that you want so you can filter through the garbage backlink sites. Once you have the list you like, find the contact info using Hunter.
- Domain Analysis. Grab a domain of an affiliate site that is super relevant and use this tool to check out the stats. You will see all the sites that are ranking well. You will want to negotiate your way to be listed on those sites. Also, when you scroll down the report a bit, you will find competitor sites. This section is pure gold! Download a list of similar blogs that will bring great value to your program
Final Thoughts on Semrush.
For small and large e-commerce agencies with room to slightly stretch the budget, Semrush is a great SEO software solution. The comprehensive suite of intuitive features is enough to compensate for any downsides owed to the Semrush pricing. Its vast range of key metrics, insights, and analyses make it an all-in-one solution that can single-handedly solve most of your problems related to SEO and scaling your online business.
FAQs about Semrush.
Here’s a concise list of the most commonly asked questions about Semrush for a quick overview of what the multi-decked suite entails.
What is Semrush?
Semrush is one-stop SEO, content, social media, and affiliate management solution. It helps online businesses, bloggers, and influencers maximize their efforts to rank higher on search engines and derive more traffic.
Is Semrush any good?
For a short answer, yes. If by good you mean software that can help take your site to the next level, increasing your web traffic, improving traffic analytics, and bettering your rankings, then yes, it is very good.
Is Moz or Semrush Better?
In terms of being an SEO software solution, Moz is the closest competitor to Semrush. Where Semrush takes the lead is when we speak of a more integrated one-stop solution. Semrush is perhaps the most robust when it comes to not just the SEO but PPC as well as Social Media management.
How does Semrush compare to Ahrefs?
Ahrefs, like Semrush, is another popular SEO tool. Ahrefs’ great strength is its simpler UI and easier navigability that allows for quick link building. But Semrush provides a more holistic user experience by combining SEO with PPC and enhanced site audits. Ahrefs most expensive plan is also pricier than Semrush’s.
Which is better, Ahrefs vs Semrush?
We’d have to once again give it to Semrush for being a more well-rounded tool. Semrush features outshine Ahrefs’, especially its site-auditing tool. It also has more comprehensive URL and keyword databases as well as more generous options for extracting daily analysis reports.
How much does Semrush cost?
Semrush pricing ranges from medium to slightly expensive. You can opt for one of its three plans.
- Pro plan: $99
- Guru: $199
- Business Plan: $399
How does Semrush make money?
The toolkit makes money when a user subscribes to one of its three paid plans. In addition, users are also required to pay for special add-on features such as the Facebook Post Booster, local listing analysis, etc.
Does Semrush work?
The software does work favorably provided it is used the right way. Keep in mind that it is an SEO and Social media management solution and provides users with not only the insights but relevant tips for improvement. Drawing upon these insights should eventually pave way for the progress you’re looking for.
How to get a free trial of Semrush?
Head over to the Semrush free trial page and register yourself with a free account. You will now be eligible for a free trial period. Semrush has recently released a 30-day free trial for all of its plans. Before it offered a 7-day trial period for its Pro and Guru plans only.
What is the difference between Google Adwords and Semrush?
Google Adwords is primarily a PPC online advertising platform where businesses pay to have their websites ranked at the top for a specific keyword. Semrush is an all-in-one SEO solution that helps you land higher on search engines through a suite of marketing features.
With a database of over 20 billion primary and secondary keywords and additional metrics that inform their usage, Semrush is definitely one of the best, if not the best, keyword research tools out there.
How do you use Semrush?
So, Are You Ready to Try It Yourself?
Hopefully, the review covers most of Semrush’s main features and lands you a clear insight into the toolkit’s functionality, pros, and cons.
As far as I’m concerned the toolkit gets a massive thumbs up for its great features and a suite that effectively boosts your online presence. If you’re ready to give it a shot, register a free account with Semrush and begin your free trial.