SEMrush Review 2019: Is It Better Than Ahrefs After $40m Funding?

Semrush Logo New
It is one of the SEO tools in the market. It has the largest keyword database compared to any other tool in the market. It’s my goto choice for competitor keyword and SEO analysis.
Features
☆ 4.9
It comes with great features like traffic report, keyword research, backlink research and many more.
Ease of use
☆ 4.9
The tool is very easy to use with great UI and it provides a straightforward interface.
Price
☆ 4.3
Price is high and you need to pay a monthly fee for getting access to all the features of SEMrush.
Support
☆ 4.8
They’ve got a great support system and are quick to reply to support tickets and emails.
Get 30-day FREE trial

SEMrush has been one of the leading competitor SEO research tools in the market.

If you are in the SEO space long enough, you’ve surely heard SEMrush.

In this post on SEMrush, we will be reviewing the features SEMrush has got to offer, and are they worth the value you pay for.

SEMrush raised $40m on 2018-04-24 and is now aggressively rolling out new features and expanding its databases. Its backlink and keyword databases are now larger than any other tool in the market as per my experience.

As they’ve added lots of features recently, it may be the right time for me to give this review, a facelift 😉

This post will be very in-depth and covers almost all the features that SEMrush has got to offer you.

Overview of SEMrush

SEMrush logo

SEMrush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for your online business. It was found in late 2008 by Oleg Shchegolev with a vision to make it an online visibility and content marketing platform.

It offers various apps like SEO toolkit, advertising toolkit, content marketing toolkit, social media toolkit, competitive research toolkit – which we’ll deeply research in this post. Each of these apps contains tons of useful features that are developed and refined over the years.

Pros

  • Largest SEO keywords database sourced from dozens of geographical locations
  • Groundbreaking traffic analytics feature that enables you to display the visits, dwell time, the bounce rate of any sites
  • The content marketing toolkit includes topic research, SEO template creation, writing assistant, and content audit
  • The brand monitoring feature is built right into SEMrush
  • Social media toolkit consists of social media poster and tracker
  • The advertising toolkit consists of features like keyword ad history, display advertising, ad builder and PLA research
  • SEMrush has expanded its backlink database lately and is now having a really large database
  • It has the largest keyword database in the world

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with inbuilt SERP analysis feature
  • Whitelabel reports only available in their highest plans
  • Keyword difficulty scores can be a bit unreliable (manual keyword difficulty analysis is the best always)

SEMrush is by far the most feature-rich tool I’ve come across in the online marketing space. However, there are some downsides you need to consider.

It is a really easy-to-use tool. The learning curve is really low, and all the features are arranged intuitively and perfectly.

SEO dashboard

You can see that the toolkits are neatly accessible in the sidebar as a dropdown.

I’ll be discussing all these exact functionalities, my views, and critics further in my review.

SEMrush vs Ahrefs

SEMrush vs Ahrefs Google Trends
Ahrefs overview
SEMrush overview
SEMrush funding

You can see SEMrush is clearly a large company with funding and hundreds of employees. It’s also been there in the industry from 2008.

SEMrush is quite more popular than Ahrefs due to the wide range of audience they cater to with their lots of tools.

Many people may be thinking which one of these is the best.

There’s no clear winner here.

Ahrefs is good at the link building side of things. They have a more popular blog and an active YouTube channel and they’re better at marketing their features to benefits in the form of link building tutorials.

They also have features like a content explorer, keyword tracker, and site audit tools similar to SEMrush.

On the other hand, SEMrush updated its backlink database recently and is bigger than Ahrefs when it comes to the number of backlinks reported.

SEMrush backlink database

With keyword database containing 7.7 billion keywords, SEMrush has the largest SEO keyword database. More keywords mean more accurate metrics like traffic and others.

In addition to the features of Ahrefs, SEMrush comes with loads of features as discussed in this post.

When it comes to pricing, both of them come at a similar price. But when you look at the features, SEMrush offers a better value for money.

Ahrefs comes with a 7-day trial for $7.

On the other hand, SEMrush typically offers a free 7-day trial on their pro membership. Nevertheless, you can try SEMrush Pro for complete 30-days with our SEMrush free trial.

SEO Toolkit – SEMrush Review

SEMrush is most popular for its SEO related features. In this section of the review, let’s walk through the features that SEMrush offers in it’s SEO Toolkit.

You have:

  1. Competitive Research
  2. Keyword Research
  3. Link Building
  4. Rank Tracking
  5. Onpage and Tech SEO

Let’s dive deep into each of the above.

Competitive Research

In here you can analyze any of the domains, do organic research, display traffic analytics, do keyword gap and backlink gap analysis.

Under the Domain Overview section, you can enter in any domain name and display all the essential data regarding the domain name in one screen.

Domain overview

It’s typically the starting point whenever you are doing any competitor site research.

You’ll get to know the site’s traffic, paid traffic (if any), backlinks, organic traffic graph, top organic keywords, referring domains and much more.

At this point, you can dig deep into any of the metrics.

If you want to display the mobile analytics of any site, you can select Mobile under the Device dropdown.

Mobile rankings and traffic data

It’ll display you all the mobile rankings and traffic data.

SEMrush lately introduced a new feature called Traffic Analytics. Here you'll be able to see the various metrics like page views, unique visitors, average page visit duration, bounce rate etc. of any of your competitor site.

Traffic Analytics

It's essentially like getting access to the Google Analytics account of your competitors.

Compare the traffic analytics of your different competitors

You can also compare the traffic analytics of your different competitors and helps you analyze them.

You'll also be able to see from what sources the sites are getting traffic.

This is one of the features that is truly unique to SEMrush compared to other tools like Ahrefs or SERPstat.

In the organic research section, you can research what are all the keywords the domain or a particular web page is ranking on Google. You can determine the position changes, competitors, trends data, and much more.

Organic research section

It also shows you the number of branded searches and unbranded searches for your site. You’ll get to know how many people are searching for navigational keywords in Google especially to land on your site.

You can determine the improve/decline in keyword rankings of your competitors.

The next one here is the Keyword Gap analysis.

Keyword Gap analysis

This is a great tool that helps you identify the keywords that are common among your competitors.

These are the keywords, you too can target on your blog as your competitors are ranking. It helps you a lot to determine the content marketing ideas or angles you may be missing out on your blog and unveils some really quick-wins.

Similar to the keyword gap tool, you also have a Backlink Gap tool that helps you determine the backlinks your competitors are getting in common, and you need to also consider getting.

Backlink Gap tool

If multiple competitors of your site are getting some backlinks in common, then there are high chances you can also procure them. This is a really good starting point to build quality backlinks easily.

Keyword Research

SEMrush offers features like keyword overview, keyword magic tool, keyword difficulty score, etc. in this section.

Keyword Research

It’ll display you various metrics like keyword volume, CPC, competition, and a number of results. It also displays the phrase match and related keyword suggestions along with all their metrics.

The trend graph is also displayed for the keyword, to let you know if the keyword is worth ranking for in the near future and also to set the right expectations when in the year to expect traffic from the keyword.

It also displays the SERP results list for the specific keyword.

SEMrush also gives access to Keyword Magic Tool. This tool helps you find a broad match, phrase match, exact match, and also related keywords to your seed keyword.

Keyword Magic Tool

There is a separate section called questions, which helps you find keywords that are essentially questions in the form of long-tail keywords.

This helps you a lot to formulate FAQ sections on your blog to get featured on Google Knowledge Graph and also rank for many related keywords.

For all the keywords, it displays essential metrics like volume, difficulty, CPC, and others.

Advanced filters

You can also add various filters to further refine the keywords that SEMrush returns.

For example, if you are looking for a product review kind of keywords, you can include the term “review” in include keywords section and click the Apply Filters button.

This will be the tool you’ll be using for keyword research for your blog posts.

If you want to measure only the keyword difficulty score of the keywords, you can enter them in bulk under the Keyword Difficulty feature.

 Keyword Difficulty Tool
Keyword difficulty

It also displays what SERP features are present for the keyword and also the trend graph.

Nevertheless, we recommend you to do manual keyword difficulty analysis before deciding to create content around a keyword as the scores returned can be quite contextual and have discrepancies.

You also have the Organic Traffic Insights feature in SEMrush. With it, you can display the keywords that are driving traffic to your site.

Organic Traffic Insights

In order for this feature to work effectively, you need to connect your Google Analytics and Search Console with SEMrush. It’ll pull in the data, combine it with the data intelligence of SEMrush and gives you a much more enriched view of your search data.

With Link Building, you have the first tool – Backlink Analytics.

You can enter in any domain name or URL, and SEMrush will display you all the backlinks, anchor texts, referring domains, referring IPs, indexed pages, competitors, and various link related metrics.

Link Building

This will be the tool you’ll be using whenever you are doing blogger outreach prospection, guest post, or any other link building campaigns. You have access to scores like PS (page score) and TS (trust score) along with advanced filters, that help you identify the top 20% powerful backlinks of a website that actually move the needle.

In the free version of SEMrush, you can import up to 100 domains to the campaign. In any of the paid plans, you can import up to 10,000 domains into the tool.

For outreach, you'll be using Gmail. So the limit will be 500 emails per day. However, if you consider using GSuite this limit can be raised.

If you want to do a backlink audit of your own website, SEMrush has a really good Backlink Audit tool.

You first need to set up your domain for the audit. It’ll analyze the nature and toxicity of the backlinks a site has. It also offers you integration with Google Search Console to make sure that none of your backlinks will be missed in the audit.

If you are doing an audit for the first time, it takes around 2 minutes depending on your site to analyze the backlinks, toxic scores, and also potential link networks.

Backlink Audit tool
Analyzing individual backlinks

You can also individually go through each of the backlinks that SEMrush has analyzed and examined the toxic scores.

Grouping the backlinks

You can either decide to keep the backlinks or delete them by adding them to the disavow list.

Conducting Backlink Audit regularly is very crucial, especially if you are engaged in active backlink building and also to protect yourself from negative SEO.

The spammy toxic backlinks really will have a negative effect on your search visibility.

The Link Building Tool from SEMrush is really a game-changer. It asks your domain name, keywords to rank for and also a list of your competitors.

Now, it’ll pull all your prospects that you can consider outreaching for link building.

domain prospection

You can just select the prospect from which you can get a backlink in any form, and then outreach them right inside SEMrush.

SEMrush will track if the emails have been opened and more. Once you earn a backlink, you can add it to the monitor list to make sure that the backlink is not lost over time.

Bulk backlink analysis

Bulk Backlink Analysis tool helps you analyze the backlinks of a list of URLs in one go. It’s really a handy feature when doing competitor articles and also guest post prospect analysis.

Position Tracking

SEMrush also enables you to track the rankings of your pages for the keywords you are targeting.

First, you need to set up tracking for your site.

Position Tracking

You can also import the backlinks from SEMrush website data, Google Analytics or also you can import a file.

Position Tracking Report

Once the report is generated, you can take a look at where your site is ranking for the keywords, and also analyze if your site is featured in Google snippets.

On-Page & Tech SEO

With these features, you can do an on-page SEO audit and also analyze the technical SEO of your site.

It analyzes the various aspects of your site including site structure, internal linking, broken links, crawl depth, speed, and many others.

Site Audit

You can set this Site Audit to run periodically so that SEMrush sends you audit reports straight to your inbox.

Manually doing this research is really time-intensive, especially if you have an SEO agency. You may need to use tools like Screaming Frog and others.

I especially liked their crawl depth analysis and internal links. It really helps to make crawl optimizations on your site and lets Google frequently crawl your entire website without an exhausting crawl budget. You need to strongly consider adding more internal links to the pages having a crawl depth of more than 2 clicks.

The features offered by SEMrush when it comes to SEO audit are really commendable.

Because, even the often-overlooked features like robots.txt analysis, HTTPS health, sitemaps, orphaned pages, htaccess analysis, page speed, crawl depth, and many others are also included.

You don’t need to have your SEO audit checklist, and SEMrush will analyze all of them for you.

Along with their Website audit tool, you have tools like SEO content template, on-page SEO checker, log file analyzer (advanced crawl analysis), listing management, features under this section.

Their On-Page SEO Checker helps us import and analyze the webpages on our website for SEO.

On-Page SEO Checker

It analyzes your content, keywords, and backlinks against various competitors and offers you actionable strategies to implement on your content.

One of my favorite features is the top 10 benchmarking.

Top 10 benchmarking

It enables you to benchmark your content metrics to that of competitors.

It lets you analyze your word count, readability, video usage, and many other factors to the top 10 ranking web pages for the keyword. It helps you easily determine the commonalities between all the top-ranking web pages.

I also liked their Optimization ideas. They offer you SEO optimization ideas for specific topics on your blog.

SEO optimization ideas

It checks whether you’ve properly used the keywords in crucial places of your blog post, checks any technical issues, semantics, and many more.

And also suggests you get more backlinks to the page considering the backlinks of other top-ranking pages.

Advertising Toolkit – SEMrush Review

With this tool, you have all the essential PPC research features under one roof.

This is a must-use tool if you are running PPC or paid campaigns on Google.

Advertising research

Similar to SEO competitor research, you can enter in any URLs here and SEMrush will display you the entire PPC reports for the website.

It’ll display you the PPC traffic and also the keywords that the site is ranking for.

Advertising research

You can display positions, changes, competitors, ad copies, ad history, etc.

The above screenshot shows all the keywords that a site is ranking for.

Ad copies section to determine competitor ads

You can also head over to the “Ad copies” section to determine the various ads your competitor or any site is running. The “Ad history” is like an archive for PPC ads.

You can tweak the location, time, device to dynamically display the ads matching the conditions. It gets you rid of using VPNs and all those difficulties when doing competitive ad analysis.

CPC Map

You also have a tool called CPC map, and it helps you determine the Google Ads CPC prices all over the globe.

CPC Map
Comparing the CPC features across multiple countries

You can also compare the CPC features across multiple countries and categories using their “compare feature”.

When you are determining what countries to target in your ad campaigns, this comes in really effective to benchmark the numbers, plan marketing campaigns, and also estimate the ROI.

Ad history

This tool helps you display all the ads that are being displayed for a specific keyword in Google.

Ad history

Here you can see for the term – “SEO course”, there are multiple brands running their ads in several months.

Displaying ads history

When you further click on any particular result, it’ll display all the ads that were/are running.

Knowing the display ads competitors are running

It lets you know the display ads your competitor sites are running on Google Display Networks. These are the ads that are being displayed on various AdSense-enabled websites, and also across various other Google properties.

Ad Builder

Ad Builder

SEMrush has a really good Ad Builder feature that assists you greatly to build profitable ads by getting inspiration from your competitors.

You can also use your competitor ads as a template in one click and the entire ad settings will be configured for you. If you are running an ad for iPhone, you can search for ads that are already run for iPhone while creating your ad.

The PPC features offered by SEMrush really take the guessing work involved in ad creation out of the equation.

PLA Research

This feature is really helpful if you are running PPC shopping ads for your eCommerce store or dropshipping business.

PLA Research

You can enter in any domain name, and SEMrush will display the PLA keywords and positions. You can also visualize the PLA trend for the domain to formulate your own strategies accordingly.

For example, you can see that BestBuy is spending good money on its pre-festival and Black Friday deals.

Social Media Toolkit – SEMrush Review

SEMrush also comes with a complete social media toolkit allowing you to publish and schedule your social media posts.

You need to connect to your favorite social networks. The websites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are available as of writing this review.

SEMrush Posting Calendar
Scheduling the content on social medias

You can schedule your content on all these social media networks and can view your entire schedule in the “SEMrush Posting Calendar”.

using SEMrush Social Media Poster Extension

You can make use of SEMrush Social Media Poster Extension, to add content to your social media poster when browsing the web, import the social media posts in CSV format, etc.

Analytics of your social media campaigns

You can also display the analytics of your social media campaigns right inside the Analytics section.

Alongside having features of Buffer or Hootsuite, SEMrush also comes with the ability to track your competitors’ social media strategies.

Publishing a specific post regularly to drive traffic

You also have the option of “Publish regularly”. With this, you can enable SEMrush to publish a specific post regularly thus driving traffic to old posts.

Adding competitors
Using social media tracker to spy on competitor's strategies

You can also spy on your competitor’s social media strategies, using their social media tracker. You can see what they are posting, and you can also get weekly email reports and also generate reports in PDF.

Content Marketing Toolkit – SEMrush Review

In this toolkit, you’ll be getting all the features you ever need to create highly SEO-optimized content for your website.

SEO Topic Research

With this tool, you just need to enter the topic that you’d like to write an article about.

SEO Topic Research

The topic research feature of SEMrush is really useful. It lets you easily analyze the subtopics of a topic, characteristics of most backlinked articles, etc.

I found the “cards” view to be extremely useful when outlining what content needs to be present in the article.

If you are a content marketing agency, this topic research tool by SEMrush is really helpful for you to generate content outlines at scale.

Getting ideas to include in the content

In the above example, you can see that just by looking at the cards, you can easily get some ideas on what to include in the content.

SEO Content Template

SEO Content Template

SEO Content Template helps you to a great extent in preparing your blog post outline and also to write your content effectively. It suggests the competitor content, semantic keywords, and also competitor keywords you need to include in your blog posts to rank them higher.

SEMrush also comes with an SEO writing assistant for Google Docs for you to check the content in real-time for SEO friendliness.

Brand Monitoring

This is similar to what tools like BrandMentions and Mentions do.

Brand Monitoring

It alerts you in your inbox whenever your brand is mentioned anywhere on the internet.

It also lets you know the brand mention sentiment. This feature is very helpful when you are running a reputation management agency or offering such services.

You can also easily figure out the mentions that haven’t linked to you. You can reclaim the links by reaching out to them like – “Hey, you’ve mentioned my brand, I appreciate it. But maybe forgot to link to me”.

You can also monitor the brand mentions of your competitors, and it frequently unveils really great opportunities for you. You can get alerted whenever they do guest blogging, whenever they are featured, and so on.

You just need to set all the terms you need to monitor, and SEMrush will do all the hard lifting for you.

You just need to wait for the emails as SEMrush checks the mentions. It’s like set it and forget it.

Similar to that of any other features of SEMrush, you can also export the results of brand mentions in PDF and various other formats.

Content Analyzer

With the Content Analyzer feature, you need to enter in any URL and SEMrush will display all the metrics of the URL including the backlinks and social shares.

Content Analyzer

It helps you also discover how the number of backlinks and social shares for the content has grown over a period of time.

You can consider adding the top 20% of your blog posts that drive most of the traffic for your site to “Post Tracker” to be updated regarding the post’s recent performance.

Market Explorer

This feature is part of the SEMrush’s competitive research toolkit.

Whenever you are entering any new niche or market, you need to give this tool a spin to set proper benchmarks in your business, identify the influencers in the niche, discover competitors, analyze new trends, etc.

Market Explorer

You just need to enter any URL, say in this case Asos – a fashion company.

You can see SEMrush displaying the crucial data like market-relevant sites, what are the domain’s traffic sources, traffic metrics and much more.

With this, you get a clear idea about what to expect when you step into this niche.

Other features (Especially for Agencies)

SEMrush offers other features like Lead Generation tool, Marketing Calendar, Projects, Notes, and Reports dashboard geared towards agencies.

Let me explain some of these for you that I found quite noteworthy.

Lead Generation

Lead Generation contains a Site Audit Widget tool. This tool allows you to generate a SEMrush powered widget that allows your website’s visitors to request a free audit report.

They just need to fill-up the form, and SEMrush will email them a free website audit report for them. The report will be white-labeled, and you can add your own details.

Site audit report

At the same time, it also emails you the data of the prospect so that you can convert them to paying clients.

According to me, the site audit widget attracts more qualified leads than a simple lead magnet would do due to personalized experience it offers for each of the prospects.

You can also have your own marketing calendar to collaborate with your team members.

Marketing calendar

If you are using tools like Notion, Trello, Asana, this may not be that beneficial for you. But indeed, it’s a nice addition due to its integration with SEMrush.

Now, for all the agency folks out there, let’s talk a bit about reporting features.

When you head over to the “My Reports” section, you can click “Create New Report”.

creating new report

Here you can select any template you want and start customizing it.

For this example, let me prepare a report from scratch.

 prepare a report from scratch

There are various widgets you can drag and drop to the report. There are also various generic widgets like headings, text, image, 2 columns, 3 columns, and page break as you can see in the above screencast.

Upon generating a report, it asks to email this report, schedules the generation of this report (a great feature), and also whether to include a table of contents in the report.

The report will be generated in PDF format. The report will have SEMrush branding in it.

Other than the “My Reports” section, you can also export the reports in any page of SEMrush.

Competitor keyword analysis

For example, when you do competitor keyword analysis by entering in any domain name in SEMrush, you can just click on the Export button or the PDF button to download reports.

If you want whitelabel reports, you need to go with their Business plans. Or maybe use some PDF editors if it’s worth the hassle for you 😉

SEMrush Pricing

SEMrush is not a cheap tool. The pricing starts from $99.95/month.

SEMrush Pricing

If you are a freelancer or a blogger with a portfolio of sites like me, then the pro plan may be best suitable for you.

On the other hand, the Guru and Business plans are more suitable for agencies.

FAQs

Which is better SEMrush or Ahrefs?

I would say that SEMrush is quite a better value for money than Ahrefs considering the tons of features it has got to offer. It now also has a backlink database larger than Ahrefs according to my experience. However, Ahrefs comes with features like SERP analysis and better data for backlink analysis.

How to get SEMrush free account?

SEMrush has a limited free plan, you can make use of it. However, if you are planning to use their pro plan we offer a 30-days free trial.

How to use SEMrush to find keywords?

You need to make use of the competitor keyword analysis tool or the Keyword Magic Tool offered by SEMrush to find the keywords.

How much is SEMRush per month?

SEMrush has 3 plans called a Pro, Guru, and Business, each costing $99.95/month, $199.95/month and $399.95/month respectively.

Is SEMrush right for me?

SEMrush is great for you if you are looking for an all-in-one online visibility and content marketing platform with great value for money.

What are some of the SEMrush alternatives?

The closest competitors to SEMrush are Ahrefs and SERPstat. The Moz was considered to be an alternative, but today it lacks a lot of features.

How often does SEMrush update data?

Depending upon the popularity of the keywords, the data is updated daily, weekly and monthly. When it comes to position tracking, the keyword positions are updated every 24 hours.

What does the SEMrush sensor score refer to?

SEMrush sensor is a Google’s rankings and algorithms tracking tool. Based on how frequently Google updates its algorithms, the sensor score changes. The higher it is, the more volatile are the rankings across the Google SERPs.

How to use SEMrush Keyword Magic tool?

You need to head over to Keyword Magic Tool and enter your seed keyword. It’ll return you the broad match, exact match, and related keywords. The question-related keywords can also be filtered.

What is a good SEMrush rank?

SEMrush assigns rankings based on the organic traffic that a website receives.

Verdict

It’s a great all-in-one SEO and marketing tool I’ve come across. It likes to be marketed as online visibility or content marketing platform.

There are lots of marketing tools in the market, but SEMrush is like an all-in-one.

In early 2019, they expanded their backlink index and now has one of the largest backlinks databases in the world. This is really great for all SEO folks out there.

It replaces a lot of other tools you may be using like:

  1. Social media poster – Buffer and Hootsuite
  2. Keyword rank tracker – Accuranker or others
  3. Brand Monitoring – BrandMentions or Mentions
  4. OnPage SEO audit – Screaming Frog
  5. Backlink tracker – LINKCheetah or other trackers
  6. Topic Research – BuzzSumo
  7. SEO Link Building Tool – BuzzStream
  8. PPC spying tools – Like iSpionage or SpyFu
  9. Evergreen social media posting – MeetEdgar or SocialBee

In some of the aspects, SEMrush may not be a complete replacement but indeed does its job well.

If you want lots of features for the price, SEMrush doesn’t disappoint you.

It comes with all the essential features for your content marketing needs from SEO, backlinks, all the way to brand monitoring and editorial calendar.

It also comes with various features like PPC competitive research and also PLA research for eCommerce business owners.

Did this post address what you are looking for?

Akshay Hallur

About me

Hi, I’m Akshay Hallur. The founder of this blog BloggingX and many other online ventures. 

I’m a professional full-time blogger, a digital marketer, and a trainer. I’m here to help bloggers like you to create an outstanding blog and earn money from it.

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