SEMRush Review: How to Easily Beat Competitors in Search

SEMRush Review: How to Beat Competitors in Search

semrush reviewWould you like to know what keywords your competitors are ranking for?

Would you like a report on where you are ranking for your top keywords and if they are going up or down?

Would you like to get an idea of how your traffic compares with your competitor?

SEMRush provides this functionality and a lot more!

It’s such a useful tool so I want to share with you what is possible.

Note:   For the purposes of this review we used the paid tool.  You can go to the SEMRush website and start using SEMRush free trial.  There are some limitations but it’s still useful.

Quick Jump Menu


Note:  If you want a free trial (exclusive to Razorsocial) – Click here

What is the purpose of SEMRush?

So let’s start with answering the basic question – what is SEMRush?

SEMrush is a website analysis tool that can help you analyze and optimize your SEO strategy. If you want more traffic you need to understand more about the keywords you or your competitor rank for (or don’t rank for), links, etc.

The best way of explaining SEMRush is going through some key pieces of functionality that’s available in the platform.

You can try it out here or read the article first!!

1. Get an overview of traffic, keywords, backlinks and more

When you enter a domain name in SEMRush you will see an overview screen that shows:

Traffic – The estimated traffic for a particular region your site gets for the top performing keywords on your site. This is not all the traffic but it’s an estimate of the top performing keywords based on where they are in search results. This is really useful when you want to do a comparison of traffic for you and you competitors.

You can download the report produced by SEMrush as a pdf and also change the date ranges so that you can see progress over the last year or two.

Here’s one part of the overview screen, which shows traffic growth over a period of time.

The following two images shows the keywords a site is ranking for and also the main organic competitors. The reason these are listed as competitors because the sites are ranking for a lot of similar keywords.

keywords competitors
This shows you the keywords you are ranking for and who are your competitors


It’s awesome knowing who you are competing against. If they are above you in search results for any particular search term you can analyze their content and links to see if you can optimize your content for better rankings.


Monitor your dashboard on a weekly basis to keep an eye on your progress. When you see your rankings drop (and not recover) this might be a time to optimize it.

2. Analyze your competitors so you can beat them in search results

From the first SEMRush screen, enter your competitor’s name and select their location. In this SEMrush review we are focusing in on a social media news site called Social Media Today and we have specified that we’re interested in their US search results.

semrush competitor search
Enter your competitor and location


When I run the research I see lots of very useful information but let’s focus on the SEMRush competitor keyword tool. This is the screen I see:

Social media today
Keywords Social Media Today is ranking for


Here is a breakdown of the sections:

  • Keywords: The top keywords that Social Media Today are ranking for.
  • Position: Where they are ranked for these keywords (the number in brackets is their ranking the last time SEMRush evaluated search results).
  • Volume: The estimated monthly traffic that is generated from these keywords (i.e. how many times people search for them).
  • KD: The keyword difficulty. This shows how difficult it is to rank for those keywords. The higher this number the harder it is to rank for these keywords.
  • CPC: The average price of a click if someone advertised based on this keyword (in US Dollars).
  • URL: The web page generating the traffic.
  • Traffic: The average percentage of all traffic the website is getting from this keyword.
  • Costs: Estimate cost to advertise on Google adwords for these keywords (Hint: High cost with low keyword difficulty are good ones to focus on)
  • CD: How competitive this in Google for advertising. 1 means the highest competition.


I know you’re thinking that this is great, but what do we do?!

If a competitor ranks for keywords that are relevant to your business, why don’t you try to get that traffic instead?

Note: You also need to understand your domain authority. A domain authority is a number out of 100 and the higher this number is the easier it is to rank for content. If your domain authority is higher than your competitors then there’s a better chance of taking some of their traffic!

See our article on domain authority – Click here

So, your options are:

a). If your competitor is ranked higher but the post is not keyword-optimized, write an article focused on those keywords if the keyword difficulty is not too high.

b). Find competitors (or similar companies) that have a lower domain authority and research them using It will be much easier to write content that will rank higher.

c). If their domain is much higher and the page rank is high (each page is also ranked) then ignore it and move on!

3. Do Keyword Research

Maybe you just want to enter in keywords and find out if it’s going to be difficult to rank for those keywords or not?

SEMRush make this very easy. Enter the keywords and find out the number together with the estimated volume of searches on a monthly basis and number of results.

keyword research
Enter the keywords and find the difficulty!



Use this tool to analyze every keywords that you are trying to target!

4. Use SEMRush to analyze the competitors of your competitor

What about the competitors of your competitor?

SEMrush does an analysis to find other companies that are ranking for very similar keywords, which it then ranks in a list. Based on this list you can see an estimate of the amount of traffic these companies get from their top keywords so you can get a good idea of their traffic levels. The traffic is always estimated but it can be useful if you want to compare A with B. For example, if competitor A has 60k of traffic and B has 20k, you know that A has roughly 3 times the volume of traffic.

semrush competitors
The competitors of your competitor


  • Domain: The website name of the competitor
  • Competition level: How competitive it is to rank for those keywords
  • Common keywords: The keywords in common with the site we are analyzing that are ranked in the top 20 search results.
  • SE Keywords: The number of keywords this site has in the top 20
  • SE Traffic: The estimated monthly traffic from these top 20 keywords


Pick out the competitors you think are really relevant and do a full analysis on their competitors. You’re looking for the same again i.e. keywords that get traffic that you could rank on.

5. Monitor ranking changes for keywords

It’s important to keep an eye on where you are ranking in search results for keywords.

Are these rankings going up or down?

Can you optimize your content for rankings that are going down?

SEMRush allows you input a range of keywords or automatically load up keywords detected by SEMrush you rank for.

You can then track these on a weekly basis.

The following shows the ranking of a keyword over a specific time period:

This shows the ranking of one keyword over time



Set up SEMRush to monitor your top 100 keywords.

Sort this by most traffic and keep an eye on keywords that are loosing ranking.

Also, look at keywords that are ranking outside of the top 10 and use suggestions provided by SEMRush to optimize the content.

The keywords just outside the top 10 are the low hanging fruit keywords i.e. the easier ones to pick off and improve ranking.

6. Implement suggestions for ranking improvement by SEMRush

SEMrush helps you track the keywords you are ranking for but it doesn’t stop there…

… they also give you suggestions on how to improve the ranking.

For example, SEMRush will analyze other competitors that are ranking for similar content and find words related to the keywords you are targeting that are not in your content.

If they make sense then add these to your content to help with ranking.


Analyze all your content and implement the most relevant suggestions!

7. Find advertising opportunities before your competitors do!

There are websites paying for traffic, through Google AdWords, while you are driving your own traffic for free. AdWords can be quite expensive, so if you were able to find these companies you could make money by suggesting they put their ads on your site directly.

In our SEMrush review we can show you that the tool makes this easy. It looks at all the keywords you are ranking for and then identifies companies that are advertising based on these keywords and displays them in a chart.

semrush ad traffic
These are the sites that are paying for traffic that you are getting for free

In this chart you can see:

  • Domain: This is the website paying for the traffic
  • Common keywords: These are keywords they are bidding on that you happen to rank for.
  • Ads keywords: The keywords they are targeting.
  • Ads traffic: The traffic generated from these ads.
  • Ads traffic price: The cost of driving this traffic.

One of the companies listed is Sproutsocial. If I click on the column that shows common keywords, I see the following:

semrush ad options
View the keywords you are ranking for in the top ten that sprout social are advertising for


This is a list of some of the keywords that RazorSocial ranks in the top 20. They are also targeted by Sprout Social when they pay Google for AdWords Ads. The first one I highlighted is for Twitter analytics. If you look at the image below you’ll see the ad run by Sprout Social and my organic search result.

semrush advertising potential
Sprout Social are paying and our result is organic


If you look further down the list and see ‘free twitter analytics’, we are ranked number 1 for this term and SproutSocial are advertising.


SEMrush is a great way of sourcing opportunities and partnerships with companies that are spending money on keywords that you rank for.

Search out some relevant companies and approach them to see if they want to put ads on your site. This can be especially successful if you find that they are spending a lot of money advertising for keywords you already rank for. Because they are shelling out on Google ads, you are in a great position to negotiate good rates!

SEMRush Review Summary

You can see how valuable SEMrush can be for analyzing your performance and that of your competitors. We use this tool on a regular basis and you should consider it too. The free version does provide some useful analytics to start with. If you find you are benefiting from what it has to offer, you might want to go ahead and get the paid version.

You can also use the SEMRush API if you want to access data from SEMRush externally.

SEMRush Pricing:

Pro for $69.95 per month
Guru $149.95 per month

SEMRush have provided us with an exclusive 1 month free trial for Guru which is $149.95 per month, click on this link to avail of it.
semrush free trial

What’s Next?

Here are some potential actions after reading this SEMRush review.

1. Try out SEMRush initially on a trial for free.

2. Put a comment in the box below and tell us what you think of the post.

3. Share the SEMrush review post with all your friends.

4. None of the above – do something that I haven’t thought of yet!

Do you know of a good SEMRush alternative?

Thank you!


28 Responses to SEMRush Review: How to Beat Competitors in Search

  1. Hi Ian, great article, I was not aware of this tool so will definitely give it some consideration. However, from a very quick test I cannot see any paid search data for some pages I manage – when that is not the case. Limitation of the free version, or bug in the system?

    Also, I cannot see the images on your article: all links seem to be broken…

  2. Love this tool I have been using it for a while and even in my little fancy shoe world it helps me against the big shoe companies.

  3. Awesome as always Ian (I especially like the “action” steps after each section). Happily Buffering and Inbounding right now 🙂

  4. Hey Ian, fantastic article. I do have a question though. With Google apparently coming out with a guest post penalty of some kind, do you still recommend guest posting? I know they’re going after spammy dudes, but would still like your opinion.

    • Hi Marcus, yes I still recommend it but you have to careful. Make sure it’s a very relevant, high authority website with great content and great authors. Focus on a few quality sites that are the best in your niche!

  5. Been playing with SEMrush for a while. How accurate is the traffic chart in point 1 for you? I’ve compared actual to SEMrush data and it’s sometimes more than double away from the actual figure. Your experience?

    • Hi Pritesh, any of these traffic tools are estimates and can’t work out the exact traffic without access to backend analytics. It’s good as a gauge but never 100% accurate. Ian

  6. Great article. Here’s a tip, especially for local businesses – it’s called day parting. As in, you schedule your ads only to appear during business hours of the day. If you follow customer trends in clicks and conversions by the hour of the day, you’ll notice the peak hours. You can bully out your competitors on bids by focusing on certain times of the day. Make sure you are constantly optimizing based on these trends. You don’t want to miss your customers, but if you’re on a tighter budget, just wait for ‘the right moment’ of the day and bust out the cannons to hit your prospects when they want you most. I have it all managed for me, so no sweat. Simon can set you up to get managed if you’re interested, just call him at 302-401-4478.

  7. SEO which worked before 5 years back are no working now.

    With the growth of Blogging, Spamming is also increasing so Google is taking appropriate action to take down those blogs.

    The result is ranking of keyword is becoming tough day by day.

    So it is necessary to take right step to dominate Google.

    With the help of SEMRush we can dominate Google

  8. No doubt Semrush is amazing tool which can give good information about your and your competitor website which helps to build SEO strategies.

    What stops bloggers to use these such great tool is pricing. If you run a single blog or website you may feel cost is very high but at the same time benefits are much more then what you pay. Anyway a Great review of Semrush

    Game of Thrones Season 5 online

  9. Great information Ian, As you mentioned that if my ranking is not as much of my competitor then initially I should pick those competitors which have little less ranking so that I can compete with them for keywords. But how to find those sites which are coming under specific DA.

    Do we have any tool or something which can give me list of sites with in specific DA range.

  10. I use many alternatives but get the most actionable information from SEMRush. The keyword research is very detailed and has provided my clients with invaluable insight.

  11. Hey Ian,

    I’ve used the SEMRush free trial in the past for keywords, especially in my IT job, and this tool can be a lot of help. Especially for stopping the students from going to sites that need to be blocked. I have not paid for it yet, but this review is very convincing.

    Thanks for this review! Have a good one!

    • I usually benefit roughly 6000-8000 dollars monthly for freelancing i do from my home. So if you are considering to finish easy freelance task for few hrs daily from your home and get good benefit for doing it… Then this invitation is for you… CHILP.IT/8d93f4b

    • I currently gain something like six to eight thousand bucks on monthly basis for freelancing i do from my home. Everyone prepared to do easy computer-based tasks for some hrs daily at your home and gain good salary for doing it… Test this work CHILP.IT/8d93f4b

  12. Hi, Ian, Great Review. I am a big fan of Semrush. Its help me to choose right keywords for my blog post and also help me to keep eyes on my competitors. I really recommend this tool to everyone.

  13. Thanks, Ian — But I don’t see the free version on SEMRush…and when I click on your linkm it takes me to a pay page… Note: If you want a free trial (exclusive to Razorsocial) – Click here

  14. SEMrush has long been my first choice, albeit it’s pricy. I’ve grown to learn that there’s no way I’m buying a keyword research tool without API. Thinking of buying Serpstat. Any recommendations?

Leave a reply