August 10, 2020

If you're a website owner or marketer looking to grow a website's organic traffic from search, you might have already come across SEMrush. Afterall, it's one of the pioneers in competitor SEO research tools in the world.

But, how can a tool like SEMrush help a business like yours? You might be asking yourself:

  • What features does SEMrush have that will help me grow organic traffic to my site?
  • Will SEMrush be useful for a business like mine?
  • Is it just a hype? Do I really need a SEMrush subscription? Or can free tools help me do exactly the same thing?

To help you understand whether SEMrush is the right tool for you, I've prepared this guide to run you through SEMrush's best, and worst features as well as compare SEMrush with free tools in the market.

Whether you are a business looking to get more leads from organic search, a hobbyist growing your SEO toolkit in Malaysia, I hope you'll get a good idea of whether SEMrush can help your goals after reading this review.

Let's get started:

What is SEMrush?

In terms of SEO tools, SEMrush is what you would call a competitor analysis tool. This means that you'll not only be able to use SEMrush not only for traditional search analysis for your website and niche, you'll also be able to use it to discover how well your competitor's websites are doing.

For business owners looking to grow their organic traffic, SEMrush can help unlock new keyword and backlink opportunities for your website by comparing your site's performance with that of your competitors.

Traditional SEO analysis tool vs Competitor SEO analysis tool

Feature

Traditional SEO Tool

Competitor Analysis
SEO Tool

Keyword research

Backlink checker

Competitor organic traffic value checker

Competitor ranked keywords checker

Domain-vs-domain gap analysis

With the insight gained, you can now build an SEO strategy that will help you rank better than your competitors.

For any business or individual considering doing serious SEO work on their website, SEMrush can play a good role in informing of SEO strategy.

SEMrush is not just SEO, however...

While SEMrush is best known for its search competitor analysis feature, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that SEMrush's full features extend outside of just search. SEMrush's full suite of features include:

  • SEO Toolkit for search analysis
  • Competitive Research Toolkit for deep diving into competitor analysis
  • Advertising Toolkit for PPC analysis
  • Social Media Toolkit for social media mention monitoring
  • Content Marketing Toolkit for content marketing analysis

If you are using SEMrush mainly for SEO, the SEO Toolkit, Competitor Research Toolkit and Content Marketing Toolkit will be the most relevant for you. We'll be looking at some of the main features from these toolkits in this review.

Get 30 Days of SEMrush Free 🔥

Want to get a feel of SEMrush's powerful features? Take it for a spin with SEMrush's hassle-free 30-day trial:

SEMrush's Key SEO Features Reviewed

Competitor site overview

Given that competitor analysis is SEMrush's flagship feature, its competitor site overview is one of the best in class. By keying in your competitor's website, you'll be able to discover metrics like these in a few seconds:

  • Domain authorit score
  • Estimated organic search traffic
  • Estimated paid search traffic
  • Number of backlinks
  • Avg. visit duration
  • Bounce rate

You can even change the country to see how the site performs in your target market.

SEMrush analysis of amazon.com (US)

Although the details are not 100% accurate, SEMrush's domain overview gives you a pretty comprehensive bird eye's view of the overall SEO health of your competitor sites (and your own sites too).

Keyword research

Competitor keyword ranking

SEMrush can also reveal to you keywords that your competitor is ranking for, along with other details such as:

  • The URL the keyword is ranking for
  • Keyword search volume
  • Keyword diffuculty % (KD%)
  • Keyword CPC Cost

SEMrush revealds over 85m ranked keywords for amazon.com (US)

This will give you some idea of the type of keywords your competitor is ranking for, and study the pages that are being ranked. Given the recent updates to SEMrush's databases, you'll usually find a pretty comprehensive list even for countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

Keyword gap analysis

You can use SEMrush's Keyword Gap tool to identify keywords you could potentially be ranking for. With the keyword gap analysis, you'll discover

  • Shared keywords - How your site is ranking vs how your competitor's site is ranking for a specific keyword
  • Missing keywords - keywords that your competitor is already ranking for but your site may not be

keyword gap Overview between amazon.com and walmart.com (US)

detailed KEYWORD GAP BETWEEN AMAZON.COM AND WALMART.COM (US)

While you're unlikely going to use all keywords you uncover, this analysis will give you some ideas on where your optimisation strategy may be lacking for some essential keywords.

Get 30 Days of SEMrush Free 🔥

Want to get a feel of SEMrush's powerful features? Take it for a spin with SEMrush's hassle-free 30-day trial:

Backlink analysis

SEMrush's backlink analysis can give you an idea of your competitor's backlink profile.

In particular, if you are launching a backlink building campaign, you can use these insights to discover:

  • Backlink velocity - how fast your competitor is building backlinks to their site
  • Backlink gap - the difference in the number and types of backlinks between you and your competitors
  • Anchor text profile - the types of anchor texts your competitor is getting links from

Amazon.com (US) SEMRush backlink overview

AMAZON.COM (US) SEMRUSH BACKLINK details

AMAZON.COM (US) SEMRUSH BACKLINK anchors

With SEMrush's backlink analysis tool and comprehensive backlink database, you'll be able to complete your SEO strategy with an off-site SEO strategy.

Site performance monitoring

Rank tracking

With SEMrush, you can also keep track of how your keywords are doing and stack them against your competitors. These keyword rankings are updated on a daily basis.

All you have to do is add your keywords and you'll be able to see the position movements over time. This will help you understand your keyword performance and how to improve your SEO strategy to improve your rankings.

General site monitoring (with project)

Other than that, you can also create a project for your site to track your site's general performance and be on the pulse when it comes to your site's SEO health.

Get 30 Days of SEMrush Free 🔥

Want to get a feel of SEMrush's powerful features? Take it for a spin with SEMrush's hassle-free 30-day trial:

SEMrush's Other Noteworthy SEO Features

Site audit tool

SEMrush's SEO suite also includes a site audit tool. With the site audit tool, you'll be able to run a technical audit on your site and discover things like:

  • Robots.txt file issues
  • Broken links
  • 404 pages
  • Internal links and orphan pages
  • Crawl health

... and more. By running periodical site audits, you can identify areas to make technical improvements in to help search engine bots crawl your site and find relevant content more easily.

While it isn't the best site audit tool in the market, I'd say it's a pretty neat nice-to-have if you don't use any other site audit tool.

SEO writing assistant

SEMrush's writing assistant is a lesser known tool from SEMrush's suite of tools. It helps you optimise your content for your selected target keywords:

While the tool is pretty basic compared to an on-page analyser like SurferSEO, it's still a cool nice-to-have in SEMrush's SEO suite if you don't use any other such tools.

SEMrush's Pricing: Is it Worth it?

With all these features in one handy suite, SEMrush's pricing are three-tiered: Pro, Guru and Business. The cheapest Pro plan starts at US$99.95/month (~RM450/month) when paid monthly.

They differ mainly on the results limits as well as the number of projects:

For small businesses with just 1 - 3 sites, or hobbyists learning to use SEO, the Pro plan has all the essential features you need.

On the other hand, if you handle more than 3 sites, or have very big sites, you might want to go for the Guru or Business plan instead as you'll most likely run out of limits in no time!

SEMrush vs Free Tools

When it comes to competitor analysis tools, you're pretty much left with paid tools like SEMrush to do the job. This is because the type of data SEMrush pulls is usually too costly to be offered for free.

Get 30 Days of SEMrush Free 🔥

Want to get a feel of SEMrush's powerful features? Take it for a spin with SEMrush's hassle-free 30-day trial:

Conclusion

If you enjoy a data-driven approach to SEO strategy, SEMrush can offer you deep insights into how your competition is doing and help you make informed decisions when building the SEO strategy for your own website.

Best of all, SEMrush's database is pretty up-to-date these days for Malaysia and Singapore. So if you happen to want to find out more about a site's performance in these markets, you'll be more than happy with what SEMrush has to offer.

Overall, SEMrush is one of the best tools when it comes to competitor research - you can't go wrong by having it in your research arsenal. However, like all tools, SEMrush isn't perfect. Take advantage of its strengths and fill in the gaps with other tools too.

Over to you - are you a SEMrush user? What's your favourite feature?

Have questions about SEMrush or SEO, drop a comment below or in our SEO forum.

About the author 

Lu Wee Tang

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