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Working smart beats working hard.
And working smart in SEO means having the right tools for the job.
The best SEO software will act as both your beacon and your guide on your content creation journey, lighting the way, and revealing shortcuts to success.
The worst SEO software will doom you with confusing user interfaces, and drown you under a mountain of unusable data, leaving you lost and frustrated.
And so, enter SEMrush, the comprehensive SEO software trusted by SEO industry experts and over 1.8 million marketers and business owners, as well as companies like eBay, Booking.com, Quora and Hewlett Packard.
While we all like to fantasise about having the sort of budgets available to those big companies, it’s great to see that small companies, like Smileworks Dental Practice in Liverpool, credit the tool with their success in growing their business.
But before we explore this piece of SEO software, let’s remind ourselves of the key principles of Search Engine Optimisation.
Why is SEO so important?
Everyone wants to attract more visitors to their website.
Understandably so. After all, the more visitors you have, the more opportunities you have to turn one of them into a customer.
And free traffic from search engines like Google (otherwise known as ‘organic search’) typically makes up 51% of a website’s total traffic (Source here).
Organic traffic is so important that a whole field of marketing was created to improve the performance of websites in search engines like Google – Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short.
So what are the basic principles underlying SEO?
- Search engines want to provide their users with the best experience possible. This means that they want to show links to the websites with content that have the best chance of satisfying the user’s search.
- Search engines rank websites based on the likelihood that they’ll satisfy these queries
- The higher you rank in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a particular search term (we call these ‘keywords’), the more people will click on your website
- The more people you attract to your website, the more customers you’ll gain, and the more money you’ll make
So, in essence, you need to rank well for the right keywords to attract relevant customers to your website.
But how do you know which keywords you should target?
And once you’ve chosen those keywords, how do you create the right content?
It’s keyword research where the most useful SEO software begins to shine. So, let’s take a look at SEMrush, one of the best-known and most-used SEO software tools in the world, trusted by over 1.8 million users globally.
What is SEMrush?
SEMrush is a collection of digital marketing tools, mainly focused on SEO. One of SEMrush’s main uses is keyword research for SEO and PPC, but their software contains over 30 different tools which span a breadth of marketing activities.
- 8 million users worldwide
- 140+ keyword databases that cover regions all across the world
- 7 billion keywords
- 4 trillion backlinks
- 30 valuable tools
SEMrush is used for SEO by companies, agencies and freelancers all over the world to understand what their customers are searching for, to find profitable keywords to target, to analyse their own site and gain insight into their competitors.
When 127 internet marketing experts were asked to name only three tools to use for keyword research, SEMrush was the clear leader, with 80 recommendations (source here).
One of the reasons it’s so widely adopted is that it can be used on any website, so it’s relevant whether you own a small blog that you’re looking to improve, or are working at the enterprise-level, analysing a large corporate website for a client.
If you’ve not used this tool before, let’s take a look at why it’s so useful and how you can get the most out of it.
We’ve summarised the main points below, and then explored these in more depth further down the page:
You can use SEMrush to:
- See how many people are searching for which keywords and how competitive it is to rank for them
- Find related keywords and long-tail variations, including the exact questions that your customers want answers to
- Find all your competitor’s most profitable keywords
- Get concrete page-by-page advice on how to create SEO-friendly content and optimise your website
- Automatically audit websites with over 60 on-page and technical SEO criteria
- Analyse link profiles, including new and lost backlinks
- Discover websites that link to your competitors but not to your website
- Measure, record and share your progress
- Integrate with Google Analytics and Search Console for additional data and opportunities
- Uncover new link building opportunities
Just enter in a particular word or phrase that’s relevant to your industry, and SEMrush will provide you with data, including:
- How many people search for this per month
- How difficult or competitive it is to rank for this search term
- Whether anyone is using PPC for this keyword and how much they’re paying
- Keyword trends
- Keyword position tracking
- Related keywords
This information provides a great starting point to decide which keywords you want to use on your website, in your content marketing campaign, or any sort of customer-facing marketing material.
If you’re creating any sort of online content, keyword research is absolutely essential.
If you’re not using a tool like SEMrush, then there’ll be an enormous number of keywords that you’ll be unaware of and not targeting.
Each relevant keyword that you’re not targeting, is a missed opportunity to reach potential customers.
Want to give it a quick try? Then just enter a keyword below, or enter your website to see how you’re performing…
Spy on your competition
Do you know which keywords your competitors are ranking for, and how much traffic they’re getting?
After all, if a competitor is getting traffic for certain keywords, there’s a good chance that those keywords will also be relevant for your site.
With SEMrush, competitor analysis is easy; just enter your competitors’ URLs and the software will analyse which keywords they’re ranking for. You can even compare your own website with up to 4 competitors at a time and see which keywords they’re ranking for that your site isn’t, to see where you’re missing out.
SEMrush will give you great insights into your competition, including data about their linkbuilding efforts, paid and organic data, and even their display advertising. Once you have this data, you can evaluate its effectiveness and begin to implement winning strategies on your own website.
When you understand what’s driving your competitions’ traffic, you can create content that is better than theirs and target these search terms yourself to outrank them.
SEMrush presents their data with the aid of helpful charts and reports, which can be exported into excel or PDFs, which you can then share with internal stakeholders or clients.
Just head to the ‘My Reports’ section, where you’re provided with customisable report templates for regular reporting, or a one-off audit. Just pull through data from tools such as the Site Audit or Position Tracking and create a clean-looking PDF ready to be shared.
Do you know which pages on your website are ranking for which keywords, and in which position? Do you work with clients who ask you how they can improve their website and increase their traffic?
Just input the URL of the site you’d like to analyse into the Domain Analytics section, and SEMrush will give you an overview of both organic and paid traffic, the keywords you rank for, the monthly search volume they receive, and which positions in Google you hold, your main competitors and who is linking to your website.
The fact that you can do this for any website, no matter whether you own it or not, means that it’s a really useful tool for an agency to use to evaluate a client’s strength and weaknesses and provide them with recommendations.
SEMrush will also list all the technical changes that need to be made to each page to improve search visibility.
Every one that uses this tool will have different priorities.
One of the issues that emerges from a tool that’s so comprehensive, is that it’s possible to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you can do with it.
To counter this, SEMrush offer a few resources that will help you to get to grips with their tools and get the most out of the, including:
- Discover SEMrush Blog Series
- SEO and Marketing 101 Blog Series
- Knowledge Base
- SEMrush Academy
If you’d like to sign up for the SEMrush free 7-day trial, then click here
As I’m sure it’s obvious by now, we find SEMrush very useful. What’s your experience (both good and bad) using the software? Are there any other pieces of SEO software that you’d recommend instead, or to complement it? Let us know in the comments below!