SEMrush Review: The All-in-One Marketing Tool

Author: Stephen Kinsella

Last Updated: December 21, 2020

Key Points Covered

  1. What is SEMrush and how it can help you drive more traffic to your website.
  2. A step-by-step guide on how to create an account with SEMrush and get started in as low as 5 minutes
  3. Detailed overview of the key SEMrush features and how you can use each for exponential business growth.
  4. What SEMrush fails to deliver you and important considerations before you go with it.
  5. A quick summary of when and how you should be using SEMrush.

SEMrush is one of the leading SEO tools that help businesses and marketers improve search engine ranking and drive more organic traffic to their websites. If you are a marketer or own an online business, you’ve probably heard about SEMrush.

This detailed SEMrush review will cover everything that you need to know to succeed with your SEO game. I won’t list SEMrush features (that you can find on its official website), instead, I’ll focus on how you can use SEMrush (and its features) to generate more organic traffic to your website and how you can improve your website’s ranking.

After all, that’s what marketers and business owners are interested in, right?

Generating traffic is the biggest global marketing issue in 2020 faced by businesses all over the world. It isn’t just about 2020, generating traffic and leads is the biggest marketing challenges since 2017. And one of the basic reasons why your website isn’t getting enough traffic is that it doesn’t rank well in SERPs.

Investing in SEO seems to be the best solution as content and websites that are optimized for search engines rank high and drive traffic. Over 53% of marketers are actively trying to rank for Google featured snippet in 2020 and the number will increase in the coming years. This clearly shows the need, competition, and frustration.

Using an effective SEO and keyword research tool is inevitable. Let’s see how well SEMrush fits the equation and how effectively it can help you with SEO, traffic, and more.

What is SEMrush?

SEMrush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for marketers, SEO experts, businesses, and agencies. It is widely known as an SEO and keyword research tool and is often compared with Ahrefs and Moz. But SEMrush isn’t all about SEO rather it helps you with PPC, social media, and content marketing too.

This makes it truly an all-in-one marketing platform and not just an SEO tool.

It has more than 40 tools that help businesses and marketers improve digital marketing. SEO, however, is the strongest SEMrush area that lets you analyse backlinks, audit your website, on page SEO checker, backlink gap analysis, keyword tracking, domain overview, custom reports, and keyword analysis are the leading tools that you will find within its SEO suite.

With more than 6 billion global users and a huge database of over 810 million domains and over 20 billion keywords, SEMrush never disappoints and has something for everyone. As long as you know how to get things done from this amazing platform, you’ll not have any issues.

How to Use SEMrush

You can try SEMrush for free or you can create a free account with restricted access and limitations to explore it. Follow these steps to create a free account with SEMrush for exploring its dashboard, interface, and features:

Step #1: Create an Account

Click here for account creation. You can sign up with your Google account or use your email address for account creation:

You’ll be asked to choose a plan and get your 7 days free trial. If you want to explore the features first, click Skip trial to create a free account:

Choose your area of interest. This will help SEMrush optimize your dashboard and account accordingly. SEO is the core platform that’s available with all the plans, so I’ll proceed with SEO:

Congratulations, you have successfully created your account.

This is how your SEMrush dashboard looks like:

SEMRush Main Dashboard

Step #2: Exploring Dashboard

You get access to all the SEMrush SEO tools including Competitive research, keyword research, link building, rank tracking, and on-page and technical SEO. You can access these tools from the right sidebar or from the secondary menu:

The right sidebar has links to all the other SEMrush tools and features e.g. social media and advertising. You can switch to other tools and their dashboards with a single click.

Click Advertising > Advertising Dashboard to view PPC toolkit:

Similarly, you can explore other dashboards and see what tools you get within each category.

Step #3: Add a Domain

Move to the SEO Dashboard, enter your domain, and New SEO Dashboard:

You’ll get a complete overview of your website and the domain will be added as a project that you can access later. You’ll see traffic analytics, detailed keyword analysis including keyword rankings and traffic estimation, backlink overview, site audit, on page recommendations, and more:

Click Go to project to visit your project page to set up features like position tracking, on page SEO checker, backlink audit, and others:

This is where you can set up all the tools and features for your website:

Step #4: Create Reports

You can create more than 50 marketing metric reports using ready-to-use templates. You can share these reports with your team. Click My Reports in the Management Tab:

Scroll down and select a template to get started:

Enter the domain, select device, database, project, and traffic source to create your report template:

You’ll see a drag-and-drop report builder where you can add widgets to your report and customize it the way you like. There are more than 200 widgets to choose from:

When you are done, click Generate PDF Report. You can add email addresses and schedule the report. Once done click, Generate & Send:

This is a great way to keep your marketing team in the loop and show them their progress by sending them scheduled reports automatically.

The Pros of SEMrush

The previous section covered the basics of what you can do with SEMrush. There is a lot more that you can achieve with it. This section covers the leading benefits and features that make SEMrush stand out from the crowd. The major SEMrush pros and how they can benefit your business are covered below:

1.   Easy-to-Use

SEMrush is exceptionally easy-to-use. Everything is self-explanatory and you’ll hardly find any jargon or terms that will be alien for marketers. You can access all the tools and features from the sidebar without messing with anything.

You don’t need any training to get started, however, if you need help with anything – you can access the resources page that has several articles, how-to guides, tutorials, and a powerful search engine that will make your life a lot easier.

The user-interface is quick and has no lags. This is an essential feature for any marketing tool. A slow interface will ruin your time and will do more harm than good. What I personally love about SEMrush is its fast interface that will rarely make you wait.

2.   Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the major yet most comprehensive SEMrush features that help you find analyse any keyword in exceptional detail. Enter any keyword in the search to get its global and local volume, trend, SERP analysis, keyword ideas, related keywords and variations, keyword ad history, and more:

You can analyse individual SERP results to see what keywords a page is ranking for, backlinks it has, search volume, and other details that will help you see what’s working for your competitors. This also gives you an idea of how many backlinks you’ll need to outrank the existing top-ranking pages for your preferred keywords.

3.   Backlink Analytics

If you need to spy on your competitors and see a complete overview of their backlinks, referring domains, indexed pages, keywords, and anchors, backlink analysis seems to be the perfect tool. You’ll receive tons of data in under a minute for any domain you enter:

That’s a lot of data, right?

Here is more: You can check the competitors of the subject domain. This helps you find top competitors if you know only a single competitor of your business:

SEMrush also has a link building tool that finds prospects on complete autopilot for you based on your domain, keywords, and competitors. You can track and monitor backlinks and prospects right from your SEMrush dashboard:

4.   Site Audit

This is my favourite tool because it scans your website for on page and technical SEO with a single click and outputs everything in an exceptionally easy-to-understand report. It doesn’t just show you errors and warnings, but it tells you how to fix these issues:

You’ll see a health score that gives you a better understanding of where you stand. Click on errors, warnings, and notices to get details of the issues and recommendations on how to fix these issues to improve your website’s health score. You can send the issue details on Trello or other apps via Zapier with one click:

Site audit crawls all the pages on your website and shows you crawl depth and page-specific SEO issues. This helps you fix all the issues individually at the page-level.

5.   Competitive Research

If you are using SEMrush, you don’t need a competitor spying tool. Its competitive research provides you in-depth details on any domain that you enter. You’ll get details on organic traffic, paid search traffic, backlinks, and display advertising:

The best part: The data is accurate which means you’ll see details of search and display ads that are currently being run by the domain.

This data provides you all the details about your competitors and helps you find gaps in organic search, paid search, display advertising, backlinks, and keywords.

You can compare multiple competitors for enhanced insights that help you find opportunities and gaps in the market.

The Cons of SEMrush

There are a few things that you might not like about SEMrush despite its amazing features and tools. Here is an overview of the major drawbacks:

1.   Expensive

Yes, it is expensive, and this is one of the biggest issues with SEMrush. The starting price of $99.95 per month for annual billing isn’t something that all businesses can afford. Things get expensive when you have to add additional users. All the plans come with a single user and adding additional seats will cost you money (starting at $45 per month).

The monthly price doesn’t include the Competitive Intelligence add-on. It costs $200 per month if you want to get the add-on too. The Content Marketing Platform isn’t available with the Pro plan (the one that starts @$99.95 per month). If you need it, you’ll have to upgrade your plan.

Overall, it is expensive especially for start-ups and small businesses. However, if you can afford it and you’re serious about, I’d recommend going for it as it pays off big time.

2.   Only Google Data

Google is the most popular global search engine but there are others too. The problem with SEMrush is that its data is restricted to Google only. This includes both organic and paid traffic data. You can’t ignore other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.

Even if you don’t consider other search engines important, you can’t ignore other paid ad networks especially Amazon that now has 12.9% of search ad revenue. Statistics show that more than 50% of product searches start on Amazon.

This is something you have to consider when using SEMrush. You might be doing exceptionally well at keyword research and backlinks in SEMrush, but it might not work well for you in the real market.

3.   No Mobile App

SEMrush doesn’t have any mobile app and the interface isn’t responsive either. This means you can’t use SEMrush on a mobile device.

This might not be too big of an issue for most marketers and businesses as they prefer doing tasks from their desk but there are times when you have to use mobile (e.g. when you are in a meeting with a client, out in the field, etc.). You have to make sure that it is something that SEMrush doesn’t offer at this moment.

Should You Use SEMrush?

If you’re serious about investing in an SEO tool, it’s definitely one of the all round frontrunners and well worth taking a look at.

If you are currently working with an SEO consultant or SEO agency, then there’s is a good chance they use it (or one the competitor tools like Ahrefs or Moz) for their client campaigns. In this case then you don’t need to.

SEMrush provides you with data on your domain and competitor’s domains that you don’t have access to as of now. How you use this data for decision-making, SEO, traffic generation, and business growth depends on you.

It provides you with all the tools and data that you need to outrank your competitors in SERPs.

You can explore SEMrush at no cost with limited access. This will give you a nice idea of how it goes with your business and marketing strategy. You can use the 7 days free trial to explore more features and get full data insights.

If you own a business or you are a marketer who is serious about marketing, traffic, and SEO, SEMrush is one of the best tools in the market that you must try.

Stephen Kinsella

Stephen Kinsella

Founder / Head of SEO - We Love SEO

Stephen's managed SEO campaigns for over 400 clients since 2006 ranging from start-ups and SMEs to large multinational companies including Brave Software, eBay, Lonely Planet, AXA and Samsung.