Want to know if Semrush is worth the cost? Find out in our in-depth Semrush review.
Semrush is widely considered to be the gold standard when it comes to online marketing platforms. It’s our best SEO tool recommendation for professionals, marketing teams, larger businesses, and anyone who needs the most ‘complete’ SEO toolkit on the market.
While the entry-level price is higher than some other tools, you get a huge amount of functionality for the money. And usage limits are extremely generous (far better value than Ahrefs and Moz, for example.)
In this Semrush review, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of the platform’s core features, discussing its pros and cons, and answering all your other burning questions.
What is Semrush?
Semrush is a comprehensive all-in-one digital marketing platform comprising over 50 different SEO tools.
Combined, these tools cover the complete spectrum of online marketing channels.
You can use them to create, measure, and manage your SEO, content marketing, keyword research, PPC, and social media marketing campaigns.
For example, you can use Semrush to:
- Find keywords that your target audience is searching for
- Optimize your website content
- Conduct comprehensive SEO audits of your site
- Find new link-building opportunities
- Analyze your competitors and spy on their website traffic
- Gather insights to inform your paid ad campaigns
- Schedule social media posts and track your SMM performance
Plus a whole lot more!
Since it was founded back in 2008 by Oleg Shchegolev and Dmitry Melnikov, Semrush has grown to become one of the most popular marketing toolkits in the world (if not the most popular).
It’s used by over 10 million marketing professionals and is widely considered to be the most complete toolkit on the market.
What features does Semrush offer?
Semrush is incredibly feature-rich. It’s jam-packed with so many tools that it would be impossible to cover them all in this review.
So instead, we’re just going to focus on what we consider to be the most important ones, namely:
- Domain Overview
- Traffic Analytics
- Organic Research
- Keyword Research
- Backlink Analytics
- Link Building Tool
- Site Audit
- On-page SEO Checker
We’ll also briefly touch on some of the extra SEO tools and add-ons that don’t fit into any of the above categories just so you know what’s available, but we won’t go into too much detail.
When you first sign up, you’ll be brought to the main Projects dashboard, which gives you an overview of your current projects and competitors.
Depending on what plan you sign up for, you can set up 5 to 40 projects for all your different sites.
All of the SEO tools we mentioned above can be accessed via the left-hand sidebar. The tools are grouped into different categories, but most of the core features fall under the SEO heading. Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
You can use the Domain Overview tool to perform a comprehensive SEO analysis of any website domain—yours or your competitor’s.
To get started, just type in the domain, subdomain, or page URL and hit Search.
Instantly, you’ll see a detailed report which puts a wealth of competitive insights at your fingertips.
At the top of the report, you’ll see the domain’s Authority Score, which is calculated based on its backlink profile.
This grades the overall strength/quality of the website, which is useful for a number of reasons:
- If you’re analyzing a competitor’s domain, it gives you an immediate indication of whether or not you stand a chance of competing with it in the SERPs.
- If you’re analyzing your own domain, it lets you know how you’re performing.
- And if you’re analyzing a link-building opportunity, it lets you know whether the domain is authoritative enough to be worth your efforts.
Aside from that, there are also plenty of other useful metrics displayed in the Domain Overview report, including:
- Total monthly search traffic stats
- Backlinks and referring domains
- SERP features data
- Top organic keywords
- Main organic competitors
- And much more
You can break the data down by country if you’re interested in analyzing local SEO performance. For example, if you only want to see what keywords the domain is ranking for in the UK, just choose the UK from the selection tool at the top.
Another thing we like about Semrush’s Domain Overview is the Keywords by Intent section of the report.
It tells you what percentage of the domain’s ranking keywords are informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.
This comes in useful when evaluating your SEO strategy. For example, if you’re running a blog, you’d expect most of your ranked keywords to be informational. But if you’re running an ecommerce store, you’d hope they’d be transactional or commercial.
The Competitive Positioning Map is another neat feature. It shows you who your main competitors are in terms of search visibility by visualizing them on a bubble graph.
At the bottom of the report, you’ll find a ton of backlink data. First, you’ll see a brief list of some of the domain’s most important referring pages (a complete list of all referring domains is available in the Backlink Analytics tool, which we’ll look at later).
Next to that, you’ll see an overview of the domain’s Follow to Nofollow link ratio, which can help you to evaluate the strength of its backlink profile. A healthy backlink profile will include a good mix of Follow and Nofollow links (NoFollow links are actually now considered a “hint” for search rankings so they are somewhat beneficial).
You’ll also be able to see a breakdown of the different backlink types (text, image, form, etc.), top anchors, and more.
From the left sidebar, navigate to SEO > Traffic Analytics to open up a detailed traffic report for any domain. This is Semrush’s answer to Similarweb.
While the Domain Overview tool we just looked at only shows you total monthly search traffic estimates, the Traffic Analytics section provides a much deeper level of insight. You can use it to find out things like:
- How many visits the analyzed domain gets per month on different devices (desktop vs mobile)
- The average number of pages each visitor views per session
- The average bounce rate (i.e. the percentage of visitors who click away after only viewing one page)
- The average visit duration
- What the analyzed domain’s top-performing pages are, and their traffic share
- Where the analyzed domain’s website traffic is coming from (e.g. search, referrals, social, paid ads, or direct visits)
- Where website visitors go after they leave the site
- The geological distribution of the analyzed domain’s traffic
Depending on the plan you sign up for, you can also access historical traffic data going as far back as January 2017.
The Traffic Analytics tool offers estimations only. So, it won’t be 100% accurate. I tested it out by comparing estimates for my own website to real traffic data from Google Analytics, and it didn’t quite match up but it was fairly close.
It’s a reasonably accurate estimation that can give you a rough idea of traffic numbers, but it’s definitely not an exact science. And you definitely shouldn’t base any critical decisions such as website purchases on this data.
Based on the other SEO software tools I’ve tested, it’s one of the most accurate out there.
Regardless of accuracy, I’d recommend that you avoid making any critical decisions based on this data since it’s only an estimation. But, it’s incredibly useful for prioritizing campaigns.
In the Organic Research report, you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of organic search ranking data.
You can open it up by clicking it underneath the Competitive Research section of the left hand sidebar. Then, search for any domain to see which keywords they get their traffic from, what SERP feature they rank for, and more.
The Organic Keywords Trends graph at the top shows you the number of keywords the site has ranked for in any given position (e.g. in positions 1-3, 4-10, etc.) over time.
It’s a good way to get an idea of your performance and whether or not your organic visibility has increased or decreased over the past few months, years, etc.
Click the Positions tab to analyze a complete list of the domain’s organic keyword rankings.
You can sort the results by traffic to see which ranked keywords are driving the most clicks, or by any other metric.
In the Position Changes section of the report, you’ll see a complete list of the analyzed domain’s organic ranking position changes.
For example, if they’ve suddenly jumped up from position three to position one for a given keyword, you’ll be able to see that here.
At the top of this section, you’ll also be able to see an overview of the analyzed domain’s position changes. It shows you the total number of new, improved, declined, and lost positions in the target time period, so you can see whether you’ve made progress or lost ground in that time.
In the Competitors tab, you’ll see a larger version of the Competitive Positioning Map we saw in the Domain Overview. And below that, a complete list of all the analyzed domain’s organic competitors.
There are some useful metrics listed alongside each competitor, including their competition level, common keywords (the number of keywords they rank for that the analyzed domain also ranks for), SE keywords (the total number of keywords they rank for in positions 1-100), traffic, traffic cost, etc. You can sort the Organic Competitors list by any metric.
From the Pages section, you’ll see a complete list of the domain’s ranked website pages.
Each page is listed alongside its estimated traffic, ranked keywords data, and other metrics.
The Keyword Research tool is a collection of five tools that you can use to discover new keyword ideas, analyze their core parameters, organize them into lists, and set up keyword and position tracking.
Let’s start with the Keyword Overview tool. You can use this to validate your keywords by analyzing the most important metrics.
Just type in a keyword (or up to 100 different keywords for a bulk analysis) into the tool and hit Search to get started.
In the report, you’ll find tons of useful metrics. Volume tells you the average number of monthly searches the analyzed keyword received over a specified period. You can view both the global search volume and the search volume in any country.
The Intent section tells you what users who search for the keyword are looking for, which helps you validate ideas and plan your content.
The Trend graph shows you how search volume has changed over time so you can identify potential long-term trends; the SF section tells you what SERP features appear for the target keyword, and the Results metric tells you how many pages are already ranking for the search term.
Arguably the most important metric in this section, though, is the Keyword Difficulty score. This is a proprietary Semrush metric that tells you how hard a keyword is to rank for. If you want to compete for keywords rated ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’, you’ll need to spend a lot of time on on-page SEO and link building.
Scroll down to the SERP Analysis section, and you’ll see a list of all the pages that are ranking for the analyzed keyword in order of their ranking position and alongside key metrics like Authority Score, backlinks, and referring domains.
This makes it easy to assess the competition without having to open up a new tab and type it into Google yourself.
To generate new keyword ideas, you can use the Keyword Magic Tool. All you have to do is enter a seed keyword and hit Search, and it’ll pull up tons of similar and related keywords, alongside all the most important metrics: Volume, Trend, Keyword Difficulty, Intent, etc.
You can filter the results by any metric to make it easier to sort through your options. Plus, there are a bunch of other useful filtering options too.
For example, you can click Questions at the top to filter the results to only show question-related keywords (those that start with words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘where’, etc.)
You can also filter the results to only show broad match, phrase match, exact match, or related keywords. Plus, set words to exclude, filter by language, and more.
If you see a keyword that you want to come back to or target in your campaigns, you can save it to your keyword list in one click. You can view your keyword lists at any time through the Keyword Manager, which you can also access from the sidebar.
If I had to nitpick, my one gripe would be that all Semrush data is for Google. It doesn’t give you metrics for other popular search engines, like Bing, DuckDuckGo, or YouTube (whereas competitors like Ahrefs do).
This isn’t a huge deal, as the vast majority of searches are made on Google anyway, but it’d be nice to have the option.
One final tool to mention in this section is Position Tracking.
This is Semrush’s built-in rank tracker and lets you keep track of how your website is ranking for a given keyword over time. You can set up email notifications to be notified whenever an important position change occurs.
While with some all-in-one SEO tools, rank tracking tends to be a feature that’s included but often short on features. But with Semrush, this isn’t the case. It’s one of the best rank tracking tools that I’ve tested.
Under the Link Building tab, you’ll find a handful of tools to help you analyze backlinks, find new link-building opportunities, and manage your outreach campaigns.
The Backlink Analytics tool lets you evaluate and compare the link profiles of any domain in a few clicks. Just type in the URL and hit Analyze to get started.
In the Backlink Analytics report, you’ll be able to:
- See the analyzed domain’s Authority Score
- View its total backlinks and referring domains over time
- See its Overall Toxicity Score (an indication of the quality of links pointing to it)
- Analyze its link profile to see what kind of sites are linking to it and evaluate link attributes
On the Overview page, you’ll find a bunch of useful graphs and visualizations.
The Categories of Referring Domains chart shows you what the main industries/niches that link to the analyzed domain are.
Next to that, the Top Anchors word cloud shows you the text that most links pointing to the domain appear on. The larger the text appears, the more common the anchor.
Other charts show you things like TLD distribution, new and lost backlinks, and more. You can use the tabs at the top of the page to open up a complete list of backlinks, anchors, referring domains, etc., and sort through the results with rich filtering options.
If you want a complete picture of your backlink profile without leaving your Semrush dashboard, you can integrate it with Google Search Console.
Link Building Tool
You can use the Link Building Tool to prospect for new backlink opportunities, validate link prospects, and conduct outreach campaigns.
Semrush integrates with your mailbox so you can contact domain owners you’d like to acquire a backlink from without ever leaving the platform. And customizable email templates make it easy to send outreach emails at scale.
Once you’ve started reaching out, you can track your results with email open and reply rates, and send automatic follow-ups to boost your chances of earning links.
Site Audit is one of Semrush’s most useful tools. You can use it to crawl through all the pages on your site to uncover issues that might be negatively impacting your ability to rank, such as:
- Duplicate content
- Crawl errors
- Slow loading times
- SSL issues
- Keyword stuffing
- Missing headers
- And much more
Once the audit has finished, it’ll provide you with a report outlining all the issues that need to be fixed.
Issues are categorized as ‘errors’, ‘warnings’, or ‘notices’ based on how important they are. This can help you to prioritize your SEO efforts. Semrush also gives you a detailed explanation of each issue and tells you exactly how to fix them
The Site Health bar grades your site with a percentage, so you can keep track of improvements over time.
Note: The Site Audit feature is extremely good. Which is why we included it as one of our top recommendations in our roundup of SEO site audit tools.
On-page SEO Checker
The On-page SEO Checker is a more focused auditing tool that provides you with ideas on how you could improve the ranking potential of each individual page on your site.
To use it, click On Page SEO Checker in the left-hand sidebar, underneath the On Page Tech & SEO heading.
Then, click Create project to set up a new project. You’ll need to import the pages you’d like to optimize and their target keywords before you can run the report.
Once it’s done, open up the results and you’ll be brought to the Overview page.
Here, you’ll see an overview of the total number of ‘ideas’ Semrush has found, broken down into different categories, namely:
- Strategy Ideas
- Backlink Ideas
- Technical SEO Ideas
- User Experience Ideas
- SERP Features Ideas
- Semantic Ideas
- Content Ideas
Ideas are basically suggestions for things you can do to further optimize your pages. Semrush generates these ideas by conducting an in-depth analysis and comparing your pages to the top 10 organic results for the target keyword on Google.
For example, Semrush might suggest adding certain related keywords to one of your pages if it finds that most of the pages already ranking for its target keyword also include them.
Click the Optimization Ideas tab from the top and choose a page to open up the full list of suggestions.
Next to each suggestion, there’s a Why should I do this? dropdown button, which you can click to find out why it could help you rank.
For example, if Semrush suggests that you earn links from more sources, it’ll also tell you that this is because backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors, and the more you have, the higher chance you’ll have of ranking.
Under the Top 10 Benchmarking tab, you’ll also be able to see how each of your website pages compared to the other pages ranking on Google for the target keyword in areas like readability, content length, referring domains, etc.
Other Semrush features you should know about
We’ve hardly even scratched the surface of what you can do on Semrush so far. There are tons of other features and add-ons worth mentioning, but we don’t have time to cover them all in detail here.
So instead, here’s a brief overview of some of the extra features we think you should know about:
- Content Audit. Save time manually auditing your content. Connect Semrush to GA and GSC to pull in data for your content. Then, Semrush will identify underperforming content. You can then audit your content with GA + GSC data displayed automatically.
- Listing Management. Automatically distribute your local business details to over 70 online directories to boost your local visibility and online reputation.
- Backlink Audit Tool. Identify and remove toxic backlinks (useful if you’ve been hit with a manual penalty)
- Keyword Gap & Backlink Gap. Compare up to 5 domains side-by-side to discover new opportunities.
- Advertising toolkit. Track your ad positions, discover and analyze PPC keywords, research competitors’ PLAs, and more.
- Social Media toolkit. Track your SMM performance with analytics, run ads, and schedule social media posts in advance.
- Content Marketing toolkit. Research and discover topics for your content marketing campaigns, monitor your brand, create SEO-friendly writing briefs for any target keyword automatically, and analyze the content you write in real-time with personalized SEO recommendations.
Semrush pros and cons
Now we’ve looked at the features, let’s discuss some of Semrush’s biggest pros and cons.
- Huge databases. The data you get access to with Semrush is second to none. It has the largest keyword database on the market—there are over 21.1 billion keywords in the Keyword Magic tool. And it has the fastest backlink crawler on the market, and the largest backlink database, with over 43 trillion links.
- Broad feature set. Semrush offers more tools in one place than any other platform we’ve come across. Its comprehensive toolkit includes over 50 tools covering pretty much every online marketing channel, including SEO, social media, and PPC.
- Extensive backlink and keyword metrics. Semrush provides you with all the metrics you could possibly need to evaluate keyword and backlink opportunities. The Keyword Intent metric is particularly useful as it’s something most other tools don’t show you.
- Powerful link-building features. There’s a lot to like about Semrush, but its link-building features deserve particular praise. It doesn’t just help you to identify new link-building opportunities, but also provides you with the tools you need to manage and track your entire outreach campaigns.
- Great value for money. You might look at the pricing of Semrush and think it’s expensive. But for what you get for the money? It isn’t. You get a huge number of SEO and content marketing tools. If you bought tools to cover most of these features, you’d end up paying a lot more.
- Generous usage allowances. This is another factor to consider when judging how expensive a tool really is. Semrush allows 3,000 daily reports on it’s lowest plan for domain/backlink analytics and that increases to 10,000 on the business plan. This is one of the highest in the industry. For comparison, Ahrefs only includes 500 monthly reports even if you’re on their $999/month enterprise plan.
- Traffic analytics data isn’t always accurate. The traffic data you get with Semrush is a rough estimate only. While it’s more accurate than most other tools we’ve tested, it’s best to avoid relying on this data for critical decisions. Although we could say this about any other tool.
- Data only covers Google. One of Semrush’s biggest drawbacks is that it only gives you data for Google. If you want data from other search engines like Bing or YouTube, you may be better off using another platform.
- The UI is a little cluttered. I wouldn’t say Semrush is difficult to use, it’s just that there’s so much data and so many features crammed in that it can be hard to know where to start. For beginners, it might be overkill.
How much does Semrush cost?
At first glance, Semrush can seem a little expensive. It’s an industry-leading toolkit that offers access to the most extensive databases and the very best features—and the price reflects that.
However, while Semrush isn’t cheap, it is great value for money. Prices are in a similar ballpark to competitors like Ahrefs and Moz but come with much more generous usage limits.
And unlike Ahrefs, you won’t be automatically billed if you accidentally exceed your plan limits. And there’s a free trial available. And far higher usage limits.
Here’s a breakdown of the different plans you can sign up for:
The Free plan gives you limited access to Semrush and won’t cost you a penny. You’ll still be able to use most of the core tools, but you won’t have access to all the usual data you’d get in the reports. And there are a lot of restrictive usage limits.
Free users can only pull up 10 Analytics reports per day (whereas paid users get thousands of searches). Plus, you can only create a single project and track up to 10 keyword positions.
The Pro plan is Semrush’s entry-level paid plan. It starts from $129.95/month and is designed for independent marketers, beginners, and small teams. It comes with everything in the Free plan plus extra features and higher usage limits.
Pro users can have up to 5 projects and track up to 500 keywords with daily updates. They’re also limited to 10k domain and keyword analytics results per report, 3k reports per day, and 100k page crawl credits per month.
If you sign up for the Pro plan, you’ll get access to keyword, domain, and backlink analytics but you won’t have access to the content marketing toolkit. You’ll also miss out on some advanced features like historical data and Google Data Studio integration.
The Guru plan is the next step up and is our go-to recommendation for most users. It starts from $249.95/month and comes with sufficient usage limits for pretty much any type of user (including SMEs, agencies, and marketing consultants).
Guru users can have up to 15 projects and track up to 1500 keywords with daily updates. They’re limited to 30k domain and keyword analytics results per report, 5k reports per day, and 300k page crawl credits per month.
Upgrading to Guru also unlocks access to all the tools in the content marketing platform such as the Semrush SEO writing assistant, along with 800 SEO content templates, and more. On this plan, you also benefit from Google Data Studio integration and access to historical data.
The Business plan is Semrush’s highest-priced plan tier. It’s designed for large enterprises and businesses and costs $499.95/month.
It comes with the highest usage limits (5000 tracked keywords, 50k domain and keyword results per report, 10k reports per day, 1 million page crawl credits, etc.) and unlocks even more advanced features.
In addition to everything included in the Guru plan, Business plan users also get access to the Share of Voice metric, API access, Product Listing Ads, and more.
In addition to the regular plans, Semrush also offers a bunch of ‘add-ons’ that expand its functionality. These add-ons are charged separately and include:
- Listing Management. This unlocks local SEO tools including local rankings, GBP and Facebook listing management, directory submission, etc. The basic version costs $20/month and the premium version costs $40/month.
- Semrush Trends. This unlocks the Traffic Analytics and Market Explorer tools and costs $200/month per user.
- Agency Growth Kit. This unlocks agency workflows including the Agency Partners platform, Bid Finder, CRM, My Reports, and the Client Portal. It costs $150/month
- ImpactHero. This is an AI tool that helps you optimize your copy and content. It costs $200/month.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can also contact Semrush to discuss a custom plan for your specific needs.
Annual discounts are available.
Before we wrap up, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Semrush.
Can I use Semrush for free?
Semrush offers a free account that gives you limited access to some of its tools (with restrictive usage limits). There’s also a 7-day free trial available if you want to try out premium features with higher limits.
Does Semrush offer refunds?
At the time of writing, Semrush offers a 7-day money-back guarantee on all its plans. You’ll need to request the refund via the contact form within 7 days of signing up. Make sure you check the terms and conditions first before you sign up.
Is Semrush a Russian company?
Given the ongoing events in Ukraine, many marketers are concerned about using Russian tools. However, Semrush is actually a US-based company with entities all over the world. They’ve also publicly expressed their opposition to war and their concern about the events in Ukraine in a recent Tweet.
And, their Polish based entity, Prowly, is coordinating relief efforts with NGO’s. More information can be found in this LinkedIn post from their CMO.
What are some alternatives to Semrush?
SE Ranking is often thought of as a rank tracking tool. However, it’s a complete SEO tool with huge databases of backlinks and keywords, and it’s rather affordable. Especially considering the low entry-level pricing plans and their pricing for unlimited projects.
That concludes our in-depth Semrush review.
Semrush deserves its stellar reputation and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone with the budget to afford it.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive and advanced online marketing platforms available right now, with an extensive suite of SEO, PPC, and content marketing tools. Combined, these tools offer all the functionality marketers need: keyword research, backlink analysis, auditing, on-page optimization, and beyond.
We particularly liked Semrush’s link-building toolkit and competitive research tools. We also appreciated the Keyword Intent metric as it’s essential for modern SEO and content marketing but is something few other platforms currently provide.
The interface itself is well laid-out, though the enormous amount of metrics and features may make it feel a bit overwhelming for beginners.
Priced similarly to its main rivals on the surface (Ahrefs & Moz), Semrush also offers superior value for money on account of its more generous usage limits.
For example, even on $999/month plans, Ahrefs only offers 500 monthly reports. Semrush offers 3,000/day on its lowest plan, scaling to 10,000/day on their business plan.
If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, you can start out with a free 7-day trial. Just click the button below to sign up!
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