SEMrush: a valuable tool?

SEMrush is a tool that is marketed as offering competitive data for digital marketing professionals. It’s a piece of software that we’ve used regularly in recent years and have come to know pretty well.

We’re not big on doing long-winded reviews, but we thought that you might be interested in receiving some insight into how SEMrush works and whether it could be useful to your business. So let’s start with the basics:

Subscription costs

You can access a very limited amount of data on SEMrush free of charge, but you’ll soon find yourself in need of a subscription, in order to access more data. At the time of writing, there are 3 main options:

  • Pro @ $69.95 per month
  • Guru @ $149.95 per month
  • Business @ $549.95 per month

We’ve quoted the monthly prices here, although there are discounts available to those looking to make an annual commitment.

As you might expect, the higher the subscription rate, the more features that you’ll receive. At the basic level (Pro), you get:

  • 10,000 results per report
  • 3,000 reports per day
  • 5 projects
  • 500 keywords to track
  • 100,000 pages to crawl
  • 5 scheduled PDF reports

If you’re operating a single website, then that’s likely to be sufficient for your needs. It’s also a level that will be right for smaller digital agencies, although you do need to be aware that you can’t get your own branded reports on this basic package.

Key functionality

What does SEMrush allow you to do? The core functionality enables you to get insights on particular domains, including comparisons to competitor websites.

Here, for example, is an overview report for John Lewis:

What you have here is a snapshot, showing how the John Lewis website ranks for top organic and paid keywords. You then have the opportunity to drill down to access more information.

Here we have the main screen when drilling down to look at organic performance in more detail:


What you start to see at this level is the real detail of how the site ranks, where traffic is being derived from and the value of that traffic. This is great information if, for example, you are looking to reverse engineer the approach of a competitor.

You can quickly identify their target SEO keywords, get some estimates on how much traffic they see from those positions and also start to look at trends. As you’ll note from the above screenshot, we’re concentrating here on UK rankings, but it’s possible to examine performance in a variety of markets.

You can jump across to look at the live SERPs too, enabling you to see precisely how everything is shaping up right now.

A detailed Position Changes report allows you to look at movement on target keywords over a period of time: you can see where competitors are gaining ground. It may be, for instance, that they are targeting terms that you’ve not thought to target. The software allows you to start building up a picture of how a competitor is performing.

The Competitors report is also particularly useful – you can see where different businesses are targeting the same search terms. For example, the report tells us that Debenhams are currently ranking on more than 103,000 keywords that are also being targeted by John Lewis.

As you can see, you can gain an insight into competitor performance quickly and easily. The real power of such software, however, comes from data manipulation. We’ll be talking about that, together with paid search analysis capabilities, in our next blog post.

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