First off, thanks to SEMRush for providing me with a free account for the very long time it took me to write this. I appreciate your patience. For those of you in a hurry, here’s a two-week Guru SEMRush Promo Code to get you started.

I have used a lot of SEO tools over the years. It’s a fragmented, confusing space. So from time to time I thought it would be helpful to offer my perspective on those that I like.  Today let’s talk about SEMRush.  SEMRush monitors the search engines for something like 90,000,000 keywords across 25 countries. It then slices and dices that data in a variety of ways so you can get amazing insights into how domains perform against various keywords and competitors.

Since everybody does tool reviews these days, I am going to focus on some of my favorite uses of SEMRush instead of an overall TLDR review. And we all know listicles are the coin of the realm these days. So here’s how I use the tool to look like a SEO wizard to potential clients:

  1. Blow New Client Prospect’s Mind
    So I’m on the phone with a prospect like I pop their domain in SEMRush and immediately I can see a sample of keywords they rank for along with their average position in Google, estimated monthly search volume and average CPC:
    Prank Pack Rankings
    So I can see that they rank #1 for “prank gift boxes” which is great, but digging a bit deeper into the report I see this gem:
    Wake & Bake Dude!
    They only rank #14 for “wake and bake”, a term that gets 4,400 monthly queries. Within seconds I have a great assessment of how the site is doing SEO-wise and the beginnings of a content strategy – Thinking a Wake & Bake Griddle recipes post could be the way to go.The Wake & Bake Griddle
  2. Quickly Get An Idea of Their Overall Organic Traffic Via Average Rankings
    This little chart shows the average position of all of the keywords SEMRush tracks for the domain over a two-year period. A quick eyeball of this tool tells me that Prank Pack has been on the rise over the past year, but saw a downturn in Nov-Dec-Jan of 2013, which is troubling because that should be their big season. This data immediately causes me to inquire about whether or not PP has been engaging in any risky SEO behavior, which will help me craft a plan for them.Prank Pack Organic Traffic Trends
  3. Quickly Identify Competitors
    SEMRush’s “Competitors in Organic Search” report looks at the sites that rank for the same keywords as your site. This instantly can help you understand how tough the SEO task will be. For example, is going to have to compete against Amazon, YouTube, Ebay & Pinterest.  Not for the faint of SEO heart, but you can do it PrankPack!  And BTW who is this upstart?
    PrankPack Organic Competition
  4. Drill Down on Competitor SEO Strategies
    Competitive site data is perhaps the best part of SEMRush.  I can quickly see that is doing a decent job of SEO by checking out their average rankings and top-performing keywords. This can give me a lot of quick ideas about new keywords PrankPack should consider targeting.  Looks like this Xmas there’s going to be some Obama Toilet Paper and Liquid Ass in the stockings (they go together like peanut butter and chocolate):
    Obama Toilet Paper & Liquid Ass
  5. Get An Idea of Ad Budgets
    Though we generally discourage clients paying for traffic, while we are waiting for the Liquid Ass Prank Pack to make it through the design committee, it might be helpful for PrankPack to start buying some Adwords. SEMRush makes it simple to quickly get a handle on PrankPlace’s ad strategy. It provides data for a domain’s Adwords campaign such as the target keywords, ad copy, estimated ad spend over time, etc. With this data in hand, I can quickly inform PrankPack, that we may want to consider budgeting a few thousand dollars a month for Adwords to compete with those bastards.
    AdWords SEMRush

    All of the above data took about two minutes to assemble and analyze. I find this stuff incredibly helpful for quickly steering calls with prospective clients in the right direction. There are many other uses for SEMRush, but I find that blowing a new client’s mind in two minutes is one of the better ones.

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10 Response Comments

  • Jim Rudnick  February 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Andrew….great take on a cool tool….and I wonder if you’re also up to adding Majestic or Moz tools too….if so, I’ll be back! Er….wait…I’m here every couple of days….but yeah looking at how a real “guru” uses a tool is a leg-up in my world!

  • Andrew Shotland  February 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm


    I don’t think the world needs another Majestic or Moz tool review. The only reason I did SEMRush is because I use it a lot and they asked.

    And don’t sell yourself short Jim, you’re a tremendous slouch.

  • Jonathan Rodriguez  February 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    This is awesome. I have a lot of friends that use this tool but I have never really been convinced that it was that great…until this post. I like that it estimates traffic and also shows you keywords and competitor keyword performance as well. I have use open site explorer for a long time, but this has a lot of really neat features.

  • Brent Carnduff  February 12, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Hey Andrew – interesting look at SEMRush. I currently use Moz – how do you find they compare?

    • Andrew Shotland  February 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Brent, all of these tools have their pros and cons. I like SEMRush because they have done a nice job of simplifying the UI and it’s pretty fast. I can’t compare it to Moz because I don’t use Moz’ tools on a regular basis. Hint to Moz people reading this – Hook me up with an account and I might change my behavior 🙂

  • Dharam Chaudhari  February 12, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I have been using this tool on and off when I am researching about new client’s data to find out how are they ranking ? Are they spending any on PPC. ? You can also find out by zip code that who is spending on PPC in your area and you can create list of prospects and reach out to provide your service.

  • Joe Goldstein  February 12, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    We’ve been looking at SEMrush for a while now, and I hope we’re close to biting the bullet. The only thing is that, every now and again, it can throw some really weird data. I just put one of our bigger client sites through there and it’s only reporting two organic keywords. The branded one is apparently driving 283.52% of their traffic.

  • Justin Hedge  February 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Great post, will check out this tool as I spend a ton of time doing keyword research and analysis for prospects!

  • Andrew Shotland  February 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    @Joe, it’s really not helpful for small sites. There’s not enough data.

  • PWF  March 6, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I used to use Moz and recently switched to SEMrush. I love everything about the Moz company, how they operate, their knowledge of SEO and willingness to share that knowledge via blog postings and whiteboard friday videos. Unfortunately, I found their data to be highly unreliable and a lot of what they do provide I can get for free elsewhere (i.e. – a Yoast SEO plugin for on-page keyword analysis). SEMrush provides information that I can get nowhere else, it is in a format that is easy to understand, it is updated constantly, and above all else it is accurate. I just don’t see the value at MOZ anymore … maybe that will change. I have joined, left, and rejoined MOZ 3 times now … so I will probably give them another look in 6 months to see if their features are more suitable to my needs.