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What Is SEMrush And How It Is Useful For SEO?

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You’ve worked hard on your content for weeks yet there’s nobody visiting your site. The list of keywords you use was carefully handpicked and you kept an eye on your keyword density, but search engines just decide not to show you any love.

Search engines are always crawling your site. If they decide your content is worthy of some high rankings, you will receive them, but do you even know for which keywords you are actually ranking and how your content is performing?

No matter the number of experts out there claiming how content is the most important part of your online business, you can’t expect to survive solely on quality articles to rank high on Google (and Bing if you care about that also 🙂 ). Instead, you should understand content marketing is a part of your overall SEO strategy. Don’t get me wrong, quality content does help, but without Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is like a sports car without gasoline. SEO is becoming more complex each year and the number of tools necessary for research is increasing.

Even if you have a good grasp of tools like Google’s keyword planner for keyword research purpose, you may end up feeling like this is not enough and you still don’t receive as much traffic from search engines as you should.

This is where SEMrush comes in to play.

SEMrush is an online service consists of various SEO orientated tools, which will help you understand the current performance of your site and what parts of your SEO strategy are in need of improvements.

SEMrush also allows you to have a peek in the working of your direct competitors and what type of marketing tactics they use to rank higher for certain keywords.

The point of using SEMrush is to give you an edge over your competition. From site audit, rank tracking, and keyword analysis to display and video advertising research, SEMrush has a lot to offer for you to improve your online presence.

To help you better understand SEMrush and how can you use it in as a tool to enhance your everyday online marketing activities, we have summarised the key SEO related features as follow.

  • Reviewing your own site and current SEO position
  • Researching your direct competitors and their SEO strategy

How can I improve my site using SEMrush?

What are the keywords you are currently ranking for?

Before you decide where to focus, you’ll need to detect the areas you’re already good at. Using this “simple” overview of all the keywords your site is currently ranking for, you’ll be able to determine which keywords to use as your main ranking targets or whether you should improve the presence of the main keyword.

You can find the report under the “Organic Research” tab named “Positions”. The report gives you an insight in all of the keywords you rank for, including a historical data of the traffic volume connected with the list of keywords generated and projections for the next couple of months.

SEMrush keyword position

Other details you may use to better understand your own site, which are a part of the same report include:

  • Exact keyword or phrase you’re ranking for
  • Your site’s ranking position for the keyword
  • Estimated monthly searches for the keyword
  • Cost Per Click
  • URL of the page your site is ranking
  • Percentage of traffic the specific keyword brings to your site
  • Competitive density (Paid search)
  • Number of other website pages that are ranking for the keyword
  • Search trend in the past year

How has the list of keywords for your site changed over time?

Till this point you already know which keywords you are currently ranking for and where you can focus most of your efforts, but what about keywords you’ve lost or gained? This report can potentially open your eyes about a certain set of keywords you were previously not even aware of. It’s also a good starting point to decide about the keywords on which you need to stop working on.

semrush lost keyword

Let’s say your site is all about NBA jerseys, but thanks to the nature of the content you publish you’ve also unknowingly ranked for keywords about the NBA draft. Even if you lost some keyword rankings in the past, you can apply a different content publishing strategy allowing you to target the same keywords again.

You see how MoZ lost their top 10 search engine ranking position for the “canonical url” keyword probably due to lack of up to date content on the subject and the emergence of other quality posts ranking for the same keyword.

MoZ can easily start publishing content with the usage of the same phrase, so they have a fighting chance of regaining the same position. How much are they willing to do so depends highly from the fact that the average cost per click rate for the given keyword is zero.

Who are your direct competitors?

Before we start talking about the direct analysis of your competition it’s good to know who are your direct competitors.

Using the “Competitors” tool from the “Organic Search” menu, you’ll be able to determine which sites represent direct competitors based on the number of keywords they’re ranking for and the number of visitors they get from search engines.

SEMrush competitor analysis

Compiling a list of your direct competition eases up the process of market research and analysis. You will need to determine which sites to include on this list after you go through the various factors presented in the report, like the number of common keywords and the competition level.

How to use SEMrush to check out what my competitors are up to?

Once you have identified a list of competitors, just click on a site from the list and you’ll get a complete overview of their SEO status. It looks something like this.

Some of the elements you should keep an eye on include:

  • The type of content your competitors rank for
  • The nature of the backlinks they’re receiving
  • Keywords they rank for, so you can explore new set of keywords (could be a new product category, a new service category etc)

What are my competitors writing about?

Go to the indexed pages section of the competition report, for a specific site, and check out what your competitor is writing about. Here are couple of reasons why you should do this:

  • Get ideas for your own content – Sometimes your competition may help you out with your content creation and not only give you ideas about your new content, but also provide additional research resources.
  • Explore other keywords you may use in the future – Your competition may have lots of common keywords with your site, but they may also be ranking for other keywords you haven’t included in your scope.
  • Learn about the backlinking sources your competition is using – Backlinking is huge part of SEO. You may reach limited results if you rely solely on your own backlinking sources or page building networks. New and innovative ways to add quality no-follow or follow links to your site’s structure will always emerge.

semrush content analysis

Where are they getting their backlinks from?

Seeing where your competition is getting links from for certain posts is great, but this is not giving you the whole picture about the specific backlinking strategy your competition is using.

Use the backlinks report to explore the follow and no-follow links your competition is receiving, their sources, the anchor links used, and the type of the media linking to your competitor’s site.

semrush backlink report

Compare domains using SEMrush

Comparing domains and their keyword rankings is a feature recently added to SEMrush. The truth is you’ll counter more than one competitor on the market and it’s quite possible they’re focusing on a similar set of keywords, but not all of them can be ranked number one.

The “domain vs. domain” comparison tools is found under the “tools” section in SEMrush and will provide you with great insight into the exact position of different sites for the same keyword.

After you learn who’s the top dog in the game for a keyword you’re interested in, it’s easier to create your SEO strategy based on the things a particular site has been doing well to rank (why reinvent the wheel right?).

semrush domain comparison

What else can I use SEMrush for?

The focus points we discussed in this article will provide you with enough resources to sort out your own SEO efforts and learn directly from your competition. Till this point you already have a better insight in what keywords you should use, how to shape your content and how to implement practices your competition is using.

You should also know how SEMrush offers a lot more than this. Here are couple of other interesting features SEMrush has, which you may find useful later on.

  • Advertising Research & PLA Research – Great if you’re using paid advertising as a way of promotion. The SEMrush advertising research tool will provide you a historical and visual insight in your own campaigns, but it’s also a good starting place for market research or finding some lucrative niches maybe. PLA stands for product listing analysis, which is fairly similar to the overall advertising research only focused towards products.
  • Display Advertising – Answering lots of questions regarding places where you can promote your product, or reverse engineer this and find businesses willing to pay for display advertisements on your own site.
  • Keyword Difficulty – One of the keyword SEMrush tools we haven’t mentioned till now, but with a good reasoning. This tool is so good it deserves a whole blog post about it. The reason why it’s so good is because it will eliminate all the guess work from your SEO. Knowing how hard it’s to rank for a certain keyword may be crucial towards your initial SEO success.

semrush keyword difficulty tool


SEMrush is an unique tool that allows you to carry out SEO analysis on your site as well as your competitors so your can formulate a solid SEo strategy.

Don’t take our words for it, check it out yourself!

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