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SEMRush is an online marketing tool that is vital in understanding how your website is performing as well as the niche the site competes in. From SEO to PPC this tool is a must-have for anyone in the marketing world, the amount of data and information here is so important for you to work out what is best. This is going to be a detailed guide on how to take full advantage of SEMRush, which should hopefully set you on the right path of marketing your website.
Below is a full detailed overview on all of the SEMRush tools and exactly what they can do, but i have decided to do individual tutorials on many of the main features of SEMRush:
SEMRush can be purchased to in both monthly subscriptions, on the cheaper end of the pricing plans you can get the pro version for $99.95pm + vat. Although this isn’t cheap, you will understand later in this tutorial just why the price is justified. This subscription allows for a total of 5 projects with the more expensive packages giving you up to 50 projects. If you decide to pay annually you will make quite a significant saving in the long run which is something to keep in mind.
Before you make the decision on which one suits you best I will briefly go through what each feature is:
Analytics – This is what data will be displayed on any searches that you make. Each price effects how many results you can receive per report and how many reports you can make per day.
Projects – A project is essentially a domain name that you choose for SEMRush to perform site audits, position tracking, social media tool etc.
Reporting – SEMRush can provide you with regular reports on your sites that come in a PDF format, some pricing plans have features such as personal branding on the reports.
User Management – Every account will start with one user, depending on which package you choose, you could allow for up to 9 other people to access the SEMRush accounts each with their own username.
Other – The most expensive package will include API access which you can use to receive data without having to makes the searches yourself through the interface.
Now you have a bit more information on what each feature is, we can get starting on how to use SEMRush.
Above is a picture of the SEMRush Dashboard. Each of the features are listed on the Left-hand side, the main categories are as follows: Domain analytics, Keyword Analytics, Projects, My Reports. There are also two more features that are in beta at this time of writing called SEO content Template and Lead Generation Tool which I will go over briefly.
To get started you can type in either a keyword or domain name. Entering a domain will take you to the “Domain analytics” section and a keyword would open up “Keyword Analytics” page.
In this example, have made a search for “amazon.com“. As you can see from the picture above, you can select which location the marketing results are based on. Geographical location is quite an important feature on SEMRush, whenever you make a search, you should always be sure you are checking the results against the country that the site conducts its business in, so you can be sure you’ll receive the most accurate results.
Before we go into the search features, It’s time to start your first project.
From the dashboard, you should see a button on the top right-hand side called “Projects” with an add button(+) beside it. Clicking on this button will open up the box above where you can enter the domain of your project and name of it. Enter your details and click “create”
Once you’ve created your project, its time to start using some of the tools that SEMRush has.
The site audit tool will carry out a series of checks on your site, to see where you can make potential changes to improve how SEO friendly it is.
Position tracking allows you to view where your site ranks on search engines for certain keywords. Although this isn’t going to be 100 accurate it’s a great way to keep track of your sites progress online.
Above is the beginning of the position tracking set up. The first thing you need to do is set the location that the results are come from. You can make this as broad or as narrowed in as you’d like with region and city being optional. Next, you can choose which the device you want the search to pull from. Results may differ on a laptop from someone carrying out a search in their iPhone for a number of reasons. There are still quite a few sites out there that aren’t mobile friendly which google now punishes and hinders the chance of the site ranking on a mobile device.
The following area is where you can add competitors to your list. This is completely optional but I would suggest adding a few competitors to compare with. This is a really good way to know how your site should be performing and what kind of results you can potentially receive.
Lastly it’s time to add keywords to position tracking. There are a few different ways that you can add them: Manually, SEMRush, Google Analytics, File
This section gives you the option to look through each of the different elements that could improve your site’s SEO. What I suggest is you audit a few of your pages first, then head to this section afterward for you to then see what areas need improvement
To start this up, you need to choose the pages of your site that you want to optimise. You can import this list or enter each of the URLs manually. Once you’re ready, it will begin analysing the pages you’ve chosen. After this, it will separate the ideas into separate categories each with their own colour.
Strategy ideas – These will be suggested if you have multiple pages on your site targeting the same keyword. It’s a waste of time to try and rank a page if you have another page on your site already ranking higher on the search engine.
Semantic Ideas – Search engines also take related content into account when ranking for keywords, this semantic section will tell you if the content on your page can be improved to help target related search terms also.
Content Ideas – This section will help you with any ideas relating to the on page content. It will suggest things such as improving the heading tags(<h1><h2>), adding more content etc.
Backlink ideas – Backlinks are a very important part of SEO, this section will alert you of potential link building opportunities for your niche and will help you improve the anchor text found on your links.
Technical ideas – Here is where you will be alerted of any technical issues on the site such as 404 errors, to see any on your site you’ll need to set up a site audit.
User Experience Ideas – Today it is becoming a lot more important for the user interface of your site to be easy to use and navigate. This section tells you about anything that could potentially cause a bit of confusion and uses google analytics to pull this data.
Click on one of the page ideas and it will expand on the changes you can make. In the example above, there are a few changes recommended for content on the page. On the right, you will see a difficulty level for each of the recommended changes. Some changes will be harder than others and the difficulty feature is a good indicator for what is the easiest changes make
Social Media Tool
This tool is what you can use to compare your social media accounts with your competitors. At this time of writing you can track:
- Google Plus
There are a number of features that this tool has to offer, below are the key reasons why this can help improve your social media presence.
- You can examine multiple competitors social media activity eg. facebook posts, tweets, etc.
- Can track the growth and drop in the amount of traffic your social accounts are getting.
- See the top trending hashtags that your competitors are using.
- Compare your own social media habits such as posting frequency with your competitors and tracking the amount of interaction there is.
- You can export multiples types of data in pdf format.
Brand monitoring is a new feature for SEMRush, that allows you to track certain keywords to see how often they are mentioned and from which location. Most people will stick their brand name in here for example which is a great way to gauge how people are mentioning your brand. You can then use this information to improve your marketing strategy, for example you could reach out to sites that are mentioning your brand that doesn’t contain a link back to yours.
Once you’ve filled out the information, you will see a dashboard that looks like the picture above. From here you will be able to see the web pages that mentioned your keywords, you can head into further detail with these results by expanding them into a mini browser window showing you exactly where it was displayed. There are quite a few ways to organise your results with SEMRush providing you with loads of filter options and tags to separate them.
PPC Keyword Tool
In this example, I’m using Fasthosts as my test subject. They are a UK based hosting company that doesn’t do much with their PPC
As you can see from the info above. Fasthosts were using PPC pretty heavy in 2010-11 and then from there stopped up until mid-2016 where they have begun picking it up again.
In comparison to this is “godaddy.com”. They are one of Fasthosts biggest competitors, and their PPC budget tells a different story.
GoDaddy has had a strong PPC presence from the offset and the budget is many times higher than Fasthosts.
Again a stat we can look at is the companies ad history. Here you’ll see what position their ad for each keyword was sitting at.
First of all, we have Go Daddy. Most of their ads have been sitting at 1 or 2 over the last year. The search volume and cost for each of these clicks are also displayed here also.
Fasthosts pay per click, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as consistent. They haven’t been doing much PPC until the very end of 2016 and now they are starting to see some keywords make their way into the top 3 positions.
Now if I was now tasked with taking over Fasthosts pay per click campaign, of course, they wouldn’t be able to take on companies like Go Daddy head to head without a much bigger budget. However, there are better ways to maximise your budget using SEMRush’s PPC Keyword Tool.
This tool allows you to import a keyword list from your AdWords editor directly into SEMRush. From here you can essentially start building your AdWords campaign in SEMRush. You can create ad groups and filter keywords by volume and CPC(Cost Per Click), add negative keywords and even add competitors keywords from their organic and advertising results.
Using SEMRush for your PPC research is an extremely useful way to make the most money from your advertising spend. The data that this tool can pull is an astounding amount that you really should be taken advantage of. Once you’ve finished planning out your PPC strategy on SEMRush, you can export the whole lot into your AdWords account with the click of a button.
One great feature about this tool is its ability to take keywords from your competitors. This means you can look at the affordable keywords that your competition gain traffic from and begin winning yourself some business.
So I’ve entered Go Daddy’s domain name and grabbed 1000 of their keywords. These keywords will now be saved in the next section where we can begin to narrow down exactly what keywords will benefit us.
So I have my keywords saved in a default group. At the top you’ll see the option to “Remove Duplicates”, this helps get rid of any unnecessary words in your campaign.
Another feature is to remove cross group negatives. Now what this means is that you can remove words that are going to conflict with any of your other ad groups so you don’t run into the problem of Google showing the wrong ad.
Say for example you have an ad group set up for a sale on the keyword “Cloud Hosting Sale” and another ad group set up with just “cloud hosting”. Cross-group negatives allow you to add the word “sale” as a negative for this specific group so you don’t have any conflictions.
You can also go to the “negatives” tab and add any campaign level negative words that you don’t want any of your ads showing for. These can often be words like “free” and “cheap” if that doesn’t want your offering.
Organic Traffic Insights
To use organic traffic insights, you need to have an existing google analytics account linked to your website. Once you have this, it’s time to connect SEMRush to it. With google analytics, you can have multiple accounts linked to one email address, SEMRush will allow you to choose which one you want to use however and you can start pulling results from it instantly. On top of this, you can also sync up SEM with the Google search console for further information on your website’s performance.
This area is where you can analyse everything there is to know about domain names. There a number of tools here that will help you gather a wealth of information on your competitors and your own domain. Let go more in depth with the aspects below:
To see an overview of any domain name, all you need to do is enter the URL into the search bar at the top. This will bring up all of the data that SEM Rush has on that particular domain name. You can new click on some of the data to expand on the information.
The “overview” section displays 4 main sets of data: Organic Search, Paid Search, Backlinks and Display Advertising each of which are colour co-ordinated.
This shows the monthly organic traffic that your site receives.
You can see above there are multiple charts showing stats such as branding and non-branded traffic, trends in organic and paid keywords, and more. With each of these results, you can click on the “view full report” button to show you every result and the “export” option allows you to take your own copy of the report.
The paid search area shows you how much traffic is gained from pay per click advertising.
The paid search stats again are very similar to the organic search stats except these are the results from pay per click advertising. SEM Rush can show you how competitive certain keywords and phrases are, and what kind of CPC you can expect to see.
This box displays the number of backlinks that SEM Rush has found. Expanding on this will show you where the backlinks are coming from.
In here you can see more in depth information about your backlinks, such as top referring domains, follow/nofollow ratio and the top anchor text found on domains.
Here is where you can see the number of ads you have running on your site through Google Adsense. Clicking on this will expand on the behaviour of your advertisements.
One thing you’ll need to know about displayed advertising is the difference between publishers and advertisers:
Publishers – These are the websites that offer space on their website through AdSense to allow other businesses to advertise on the website. You can allow plenty of advertising space to be allocated for your web space.
Advertiser – This is the sites that will be advertised on the publisher’s website.
The list of publishers or advertisers. This is determined by whether the domain has more of one or the other. If your site advertises on other sites more than it publishes then you will see the latest list of publishers and vice versa. You can also see the top landing pages that these ads are directed to. SEM Rush also provides you with a preview of how a few of your ads are displayed.
This feature is available if your site has a video that is running video advertisement on youtube.
This report will give you the number of viewers that have currently seen your video and when the video was published. Clicking on any of these videos will show you the landing pages of the videos and what youtube channel it’s on.
The traffic analytics page works in a very similar way to google analytics, it will show your monthly traffic with the various sources each separated by colour. You can get quite a lot of information about customer behaviour from this data with options such as which the country the search came from and where the users are heading after they visit the website. You can expand further on each of these reports and see the exact referral sites, what search engines were used and which social media platforms were most popular.
This area is a list of the top 100,000 domains on SEMRush. For anyone in digital marketing, this is quite an interesting piece of information that will help you research the best possible website. You can gauge from here which sites you should be looking to achieve links from. There is also has a winners & losers section:
This area shows you a list of websites similar to the top 100,000 but this gives you details on how their marketing is going. The results shown in brackets are the overall numbers for the month, while the results in green and red are increases and decreases in areas such as search engine organic traffic, ads traffic, keywords and the costs for each months AdWords. The site’s that are listed at the top of the search are what are considered winners, with a usual increase in traffic while the others near the bottom are classed as losers with a decrease in their traffic. Clicking on any of these sites will take you to their domain overview page which you can then further analyse.
Domain vs Domain
With domain vs domain, you can compare up to 5 websites(when using advanced mode) each of which show you both a chart and table. Above is an example of the simple mode which allows you to compare 3 domains, In this one I have used amazon.com, ebay.com, netflix.com. The graph shows you which site has a highers search volume is Amazon in the blue. Netflix has considerably less amount of traffic than the others which is represented in the screenshot above.
If you choose to use the advanced mode, then you can add another two sites to compare the results with. From the picture above you’ll see the 5 sites I’ve compared in a table format which shows you the most popular keywords compiled from all of the sites. In the advanced mode, you can also compare different keyword types with each other. For example, you may want to see facebook’s organic search, while comparing it with amazon paid keywords. This again is effective in finding what kind of marketing is most effective in certain industries.
The keyword analytics section is what will show when you type a keyword into the search bar instead of a domain. Keywords are the bread and butter of someone searching on the web. No matter what people are looking for, they will use keywords to carry out the search.
This is where Keyword analytics comes in handy, with SEMRush you can get all of the in-depth information you need on any keyword you can think off.
The keyword overview looks similar to the domain search, you can see a chart that displays the CPC(cost per click) for the keyword. Above is the list of data that you will get with each search term.
Volume – This is a number of times that the keywords have been searched over a month Period. This is a great way to determine how popular a certain keyword is. The “short tail” keywords are what usually bring in the most amount of traffic due to how broad the term is, whereas the “long tail” keywords are more likely to be specific to a niche. Depending on what kind of services you are trying to target
Number of results – You will see the number of results that appear on google for that keyword, this is a good indication as to how competitive the niche is.
Trend – You can see how popular the keyword has been within the last 12 months. It’s good to keep an eye on the latest trends so you can really understand what areas of a market you can get the best results from.
CPC(Cost Per Click) – You will be able to see the cost price in us dollars of each of the keywords in Google AdWords. If you’re planning on starting a PPC campaign then it’s definitely worthwhile using this tool to research which keywords are best to bid on.
Competition – There is a metric that indicates how competitive a keyword is in Google Adwords.
On occasion, a website may lose its rankings for a short period of time. This is purely down to changes that can happen within the search engines and will affect the rankings for a short period of time.
As you can see from the graph above, this is the last 30 days of a sites volatility. There is a score indicated at the top that ranges between 0.0 to 10, A high volatility means could result in ranking changes that don’t truly represent how the rankings stand. This tool can show you the volatility for any industry type out there as well as your own website’s performance.
SEMRush also provides a widget that you can place on your website to have easy access to this statistic.
This is a very beneficial tool if you have a client that contacts you about a ranking slip. This data can prove a change in Google has caused the slip to take effect, hopefully saving you from any headaches trying to justify the ranking slip.
The SEMRush sensor scans your website to see what kind of content activity is taking place. In this example, we have scanned a site called “agriturismo.it”. They are competitors with companies such as Airbnb and Travel Direct, which you may find is quite a feasible option to those looking to travel outside of the UK to more rural areas.
The scan above shows that the majority of activity taking place on this particular website is the “Reviews”. This makes sense as the properties and destinations are reviewed on a regular basis.
Other industries may show different results with likes of Wikipedia having more knowledge panel activity and youtube with videos.
So overall you can probably now see that SEMRush does a wide range of different things from keyword research to site auditing, and gaining knowledge on your competitors and much more. It’s a tool that is constantly improving and I’m sure over the coming years there will be many more improvements. If you have any questions about SEM Rush please do get in touch and ill be more than happy to advise.
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