Content marketing is a massive market these days, with everyone from massive publishers to small one man bloggers getting involved and finding success. One of the keys to this success is SEO, and therefore SEO tools have become increasingly popular in recent years. Today we will do our own full and honest review of SEMrush, a massive player in this space, and let you know what we like and what we don’t!
If you are in a hurry, here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of SEMrush to get started:
|Pros of SEMrush||Cons of SEMrush|
|Excellent User Interface||Wonky Keyword Competition Score|
|Massive Data Set||Expensive|
|Full Set of Tools||Forced to Check KW Ranking Daily|
|Free Trial (Yes, it has one!)|
What is SEMrush?
Semrush is a search engine optimization (SEO) tool that allows marketers and digital agency owners to track the performance of their websites and online marketing campaigns.
This tool gives insight into the ranking of your website in regards to keywords, back links, and top organic competitors. It also monitors your back link profile such as the number of pages indexed by Google, social media shares, and Alexa rank.
Semrush is a handy SEO tool for any business that wants to take control of its online presence. In fact, SEMRush has been a massive player in the SEO tool space and is one of the most commonly used tool for top SEOs (although it places slightly behind the other massive player AHREFS).
What are the main features of SEMRush?
SEMrush is made up of over 40 SEO based tools, meaning that it can pretty much cover all most requirements you may have for SEO for your business. These are some of the main tools and their accompanying features:
SEMrush have a full suite of 6 tools for keyword research, with my favourite being the keyword magic tool. This tool allows you to search SEMrush’s massive keyword database to find the ones that best suit your business. For most people this will mean low competition key phrases you can produce content on.
You can also use SEMrush to find gaps between you and your competitors websites to see what they rank for and you don’t. This can be a great source of new content ideas relevant to your industry.
You can also link your SEMrush account up to Google Search Console to help you extract valuable keyword data, such as the terms your site ranks for (some of these are ‘hidden’ by Google in their own tools).
On Page SEO
SEMrush gives you the option to audit your whole website or a page on your website and make sure that your on page SEO is up to muster. In a competitive landscape such as content marketing, this can really help make the difference.
You can use this tool to check everything from your site’s speed to tips on SERP feature targeting (such as snippets). SEMrush has exhaustive checklists for you to run through so that no stone will be left unturned.
You can find out all kinds of things about your competitors using this tool. What they rank for, what back links they have and the estimated amount of traffic they have. Not only does this help you gauge your progress against your competitors, but also actionable information to help you get ahead of them.
Content Marketing & Content Analysis
You can easily find a whole host of content ideas that fit well with your niche using SEMrush, from commonly asked questions to trending topics.SEMrush now also includes ways to analyze the content you have already produced, helping you include the right topics and ideas to rank above your competition on the SERPs.There is even a SEO writing assistant that lets you type into a wordprocessor interface at the same time as optimizing what you right to rank.
As well as helping you find keyword and phrases to write articles that resonate with your local audience, you will see that they also have a listing management tool to help you get your local business information out there and listed in all the right places.
SEMrush gives you the ability to add keywords that you want your site to rank for and they will help you track key metrics about how you rank for those phrases in Google.
SEMrush has a whole host of features based around links. You can use the tool to find out what back links your own website has as well as those of your competitors. This will help you find opportunities for links you can try to add to your own site. SEMrush even has an outreach tool to help you prospect for these links.
What I Like about SEMrush
Excellent User Interface
SEMrush has to be one of the easiest tools I have ever used, being very well laid out. Even though it has a bucket lot of tools within its service, they have managed to make everything intuitive and easy to find.It was rare that I would get stuck finding or using one of their tools or features, which can’t be said for a lot of their competition.
Massive Data Set
One of the big things you are paying for with SEMrush is the massive set of data that they possess. As an established player, they have build up massive keyword lists and have one of the best crawl bots around to scrape the web on your behalf and make sure you are up to date with the best data set possible.
To give a simple example, whilst searching for key-phrase alongside another popular keyword tool that was cheaper than SEMrush, they consistently found double or even triple the amount of keyword ideas from the same seed keyword. This really does give you more options when running a digital business.
Full Set of Tools
When you subscribe to SEMrush you pretty much don’t need any other SEO tools. As an established player in the SEO tool market they have invested a lot in continuously adding new features that meet the needs of their customers. For example, there has been a massive influx in content optimizing tools such as Surfer SEO, so SEMrush recently added their own similar tool.
For me personally I found the topic research element of SEMrush well laid out and containing killer information. You simply type in your seed phrase or word and let the tool do its thing. And it doesn’t just spit out a list of topic ideas, it puts these ideas into clusters. This goes a long way to helping me plan out my website and the content I am adding to it! Excellent!
As you may already know, the other big SEO tool in the space AHREFs makes you pay $7 for the privilege of having a trial. Therefore, it is good to see SEMrush allowing us to take a free trial with no strings attached. This is important for anyone looking to invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars in a tool like this.
Not only do SEMrush have excellent on boarding tutorials and written help articles, they also give a whole host of short courses and ebooks on digital marketing for free. SEMrush is really putting an effort into its customers, making sure they have all the tools they need for success. These are things other internet ‘gurus’ would probably charge you a lot for!
What I Don’t Like about SEMrush
Wonky Keyword Competition Score
A lot of the information you get from SEMrush is excellent, but one that is slightly off is the keyword competition score. This is the score it gives keywords to help you decide whether you can realistically rank for it or not. I found that SEMrush will not always be on point, sometimes telling me that a keyword is very easy to rank for when it clearly isn’t (having multiple medium to high authority sites to beat). And below is an example of the keyword ‘cheap surf destinations’, which didn’t even return a difficulty score even though it is a well searched and common term. Yes, you can request they add it but I would expect it to be there and present. It was in my cheaper tool!
SEMrush is expensive, really expensive. You will be paying at least $100 a month to get decent functionality from the tool, and if you want full functionality into the $200 a month range. I do understand that this tool probably costs a lot to run, but it doesn’t stop me baulking at the idea of paying this amount for a SEO research tool.
Having said all of this I do think that SEO tools are undervalued by many successful content marketers. They may be happy to pay hundreds or thousand of dollars a month on new content for their site, but not $100-200 a month for a tool to make sure that content is well thought out and targeted 🙂
Forced to Check Keyword Rankings Often!
From what I can gather, SEMrush force you to have your keyword rankings checked daily. I believe they should be more flexible with this and let us choose less frequent checking in exchange for a cheaper price. I know there are other tools out there doing this, so I don’t see why SEMrush have to force into daily checks and the resource cost associated with this. Only SEO’s and content marketers with hyper-active disorders should be checking keyword rankings this often realistically 🙂
Should You Subscribe To SEMrush?
SEMrush is no doubt an excellent tool which has matured well over the years. They truly are one of the top SEO tools out there, with only a few minor issues to contend with. The biggest of these is the price! SEMrush is expensive and they aren’t showing any signs of making it any cheaper.
So SEMrush is an excellent top tier tool but (in my opinion) should only be used by a particular set of people. If you already run a reasonably successful content marketing business earning around $1000 a month or more, then I would highly recommend you invest in this tool and double down on your business’ success. SEMrush will help you get an edge over your competition and grow that success even more.
However, if you are in the early stages of your content marketing life, don’t feel like you need to struggle to afford an expensive tool like this. At this stage I would invest in a cheaper tool. Personally, I have used SERanking as an alternative with excellent results. You can get a plan for as cheap as $17 a month and they DO let you reduce the frequency of your rank checks for those cheaper subscriptions.
I will leave links to both tools below and feel free to try their free trials and judge for yourself!