SEMRush Review – Keyword and Competitor Research

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • Outstanding
$69.95 per month

  • SEMRush
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on: November 3, 2014
  • Last modified: March 4, 2017

Review Summary:

SEMRush is a powerful keyword and compeition research tool that can help you understand how you are doing in terms of SEO, what keywords your competitors are being ranked for, what keywords alternatives you have missed, and the same data again for Google Adwords. It is certainly worth a look, even just the free version.


In this post I am going to take a detailed look at what SEMRush can do for you in terms of keyword research, competitor research and general SEO goodness.

Knowing what is working for your competitors can be a powerful thing.

Seeing what kinds of keywords they have ranked for. And what related keywords are useful for a post.

Finding out how they have ranked, using what kinds of backlinks.

And also, if you advertise, learning what ads your competition are running and what exact copy/words they are using for them.

All of this and more is possible for SEMRush.

This post is broken down into sections so you can check out what is possible for the kinds of areas you might be concerned with. There is also an index on the right to help navigate the post.


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Analyze Your Own Website

One of the first things you want to do with a tool as powerful as SEMRush is check out your own website.

They can help you see what you are doing right and where you can improve. Always a good place to start.

Keywords You Currently Rank For

SEMRush can give you a very in-depth overview of the keywords you are currently ranking for. The following screenshot shows you what keywords a website like Social Media Examiner ranks for

Keywords SocialMediaExaminer on SEMResh


This report shows you what keywords, how much traffic and the overall cost of traffic if you paid for it (an estimate I would suggest) for the website.

The table at the bottom of the screenshot shows you a lot of useful detail on which positions the website ranks for, such as:

  • Keyword (you rank for)
  • Position (you have on that page)
  • Volume (of traffic the keyword gets)
  • CPC (advertising cost on Google)
  • URL (which of your pages ranks)

and a lot of other data such as how this keyword is trending over time, when the SEMRush index was updated etc.

Keywords Lost and Gained

Another useful report you will want to check out shows you how you are gaining or losing keyword rankings over time. You can interact with the chart and display a table of keywords you have won/lost for each month (you will see the orange bar below is one I have clicked).

This report is very helpful because you see how your search traffic is improving (or not) over time. Something you will always want to keep an eye on.

SEMRush Keywords Won or Lost

Keyword Competitors

If you want to see who is competing directly with you on all the keywords you rank for, SEMRush can show you that as well. The following image shows you the charts they provide, which shows your main competitors in two different views.

I personally find the table view more useful, but the cloud chart gives you an idea of who are your main competition, and to what degree.

SEMRush Keyword Competitors

Once you have this information you can drill in to see what is going on more specifically. For example, in the above image I would click on and see what they are up to. A key piece of information for any serious business – your competition’s rankings and keywords!

The overview is very detailed, showing you what the competition rank for, who their competition is and so on. So it is very easy to start investigating companies that are giving you a run for your money and to see how you can get ahead of them.

Which leads me to the next point…

Analyze Your Competition Directly

If I was to click on one of the competitors of the above chart you would see something like the following about

SEMRush Competition Research


This is just an overview, and I would then have to drill in to see

  • what Hubpot have in terms of content that is ranking
  • what backlinks they have
  • what other keywords I could potentially rank for (seeing as we are competitors, we would have a lot in common)

And a lot more.

Check a Specific Post From The Competition

There is a lot of options when it comes to tools like SEMRush. Not only can you give in a website to see the overall keywords, you can also see what a particular post ranks for.

So if you have an idea for a post based on something you saw (on the competition’s website) you can see what keywords they targeted or have ranked for on Google. Then you can try to outrank them for the same topic. Why waste all that time, when they have done all the research for you!

Domain vs Domain

One of the newer and more interesting tools for such research is the domain vs domain keyword tools. This allows you to compare multiple domains to see how you are really doing vs the competition. Which is another useful way to compare competition.

Discover Great Keywords

Another great strength of SEMRush is the ability to find other useful keywords that you can rank for. It could just be additional keywords to add to an existing, already ranking post. Or you can also do raw keyword research to see what is worth targeting for a future piece of content. Either way, knowing what related keywords to put in a post is very handy.

Keyword Research Reports

Let’s take a quick look at an example of doing some basic keyword research. First you would enter your rough idea into SEMRush, for example: Roof Repairs.

SEMRush Keyword Research

Then the keyword  report shows you what the

  • Competition
  • CPC cost
  • Volume
  • Trend

is for this keyword, but perhaps more importantly, it also show you lots of alternatives to target and some useful stats for them too.

You can always drill into these keywords too and repeat the cycle, getting closer and closer to keywords you can use, afford or possibly rank for.

Detailed Keyword Research

The above report is the overview for that keyword, but you can also focus on just keywords and see a complete table of the possibilities. This detailed report provides you with a complete list of options, which is obviously great for any in-depth research you might be doing.

Keyword Difficulty

If you happen to already have a bunch of keywords in mind. Perhaps from Google Keyword Planner or another tool you use (like Market Samurai) then you can just dump them into SEMRush to see what they think of the competition (and other metrics). You can put in up to 100 keywords at a time.

They have their own metric, which offers a single percentage value estimate of the competition (labelled Difficulty in the image below). The trends and volume are also useful to know in this case.

Here is a screenshot I just did for two keywords in the roofing industry:

SEMRush Keyword Competition

Advertising Competition

SEMRush is also there to help you find out how you and your competition are doing with regards to Adwords on Google. This section gives you many similar reports to those shown earlier, but in this case for advertising. The reports on Adwords can show you:

  • What keywords are targeted
  • Where you rank in Adwords
  • What competition you face

They also have some interesting views that can really help you research what your competitors are doing on Adwords. One such reports shows you the exact copy that they are using on their ads (see below). So you can see what works for them, get ideas for your future ads and much more.

Here is a screenshot of some ads:

SEMRush Adwords Copy

What if you don’t even advertise?

In many ways advertising data is tied into the whole SEMRush tool and can be very useful, even if you don’t spend money on Adwords.

How? Well imagine you want to find advertisers for ad space on your website. If you are ranking highly for a for a keyword that has high CPC (cost of a Google Ad) maybe a company advertising on Google will want to advertise with you instead. Especially if you give them a good deal!

Other Features

There is so much to explore and learn from SEMRush, that I cannot possibly give it all to you in one post. However, here are a few more features I thought are worth mentioning.

  • Export charts and reports (easily export or even embed charts in your site)
  • SEMRush indexes many country specific Google searches (not just
  • Access to the API (great if you are a developer and want to use the data)
  • PLA – Product Listing Ads data  (if you use Product Listing Ads – a great new feature)

And there is also a lot more to discover.

FREE Bonus: Download my Free SEO Checklist which will show you how to quickly improve your SEO on all pages and post. Included are extra tips and resources to help you even more.

Final Words

Now that I have discovered what SEMRush can do for me, I am very impressed. It has helped me see what I am ranking for, what I could be ranking for and what my competition are up to.

All things that can help us build our businesses and power ahead of the rest.

Of course this tool is not for everyone, and takes a little getting used to, but if you like the sounds of what it can do, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Try SEMRush for FREE



  • Discover what your competition is doing right (keywords, advertising, rankings)
  • It can also help with lots of ideas and alternatives for keywords for your content
  • Google Adwords data is also help (rankings, competition, ad copy)
  • It has many features to help see how you are doing too (rank tracking, won/lost keywords etc)


  • SEMRush takes a time investment to figure out
  • Does not have a web ranking metric like Moz or Majestic
  • Price might be prohibitive for bloggers or small businesses

About the Author Ashley Faulkes

Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).

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