Being in SEO, having a myriad of tools to help you do your job is a must. Throughout my professional career, I have purchased and used numerous SEO tools. What has remained constant in my day-to-day life as a SEO consultant is SEMrush. Without a doubt, SEMrush has the largest and most comprehensive SEO data on the internet.
In this post, l’ll be sharing a few use cases of SEMrush and how I use it on a daily basis.
1. Pitching & Proposals
It is safe to say that in my time, I have had to put together lots of SEO proposals, respond to many RFPs and pitched our services to prospective clients. Every proposal and scope of work that I put together is totally unique and tailored to the needs of the prospective client. Thanks to SEMrush’s data set, it enables me to do rapid analysis and
reconnaissance work to get a grasp of their current SEO situation.
Without having access to Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you get to estimate the level of organic search traffic that the website is generating and how search engine visibility has performed over time. Using the example above (not a client, just a random site), I would take the opportunity to ask the prospective client a few questions about the various peaks and troughs in the timeline of data:
- What happened between Oct/Nov 17? Did you know that there was a significant decline in visibility?
- Did you redevelop the website or make any drastic changes to the website?
- What about Nov/Dec 18?
Having this historical data gives you foresight and allows you to have much more meaningful conversations with your client. Selling your services and convincing them why they need your help becomes much easier when clear opportunities and issues are identified.
There is so much more data (links, PPC, traffic sources, etc) that you can get out SEMrush that would make you look like a SEO rockstar in front of your prospective clients. The key here is to gather enough data and information for you to put together a scope of work and estimate the amount of effort it would take to deliver results.
2. Competitor Analysis
Almost everyone I know in the SEO industry uses SEMrush to “spy” on competitors. Once again, great insights to include in your proposal and pitch presentation. Nothings breeds urgency and FOMO more than to show clients how competitors are outperforming them, which is why I request for a list of competitors from clients in my initial call with them. Sometimes, clients will give you the following response “I’m not too sure who my competitors are” – which is where the Organic Research > Competitors report is handy.
Based on the keywords that the client website is ranking for, SEMrush is able to show you websites that are ranking for similar keywords. The bigger the size of the bubble = the more keywords that the website is ranking for in the top 10 pages of Google. The further the bubble is to the right-hand-side of the chart = the more high search volume keywords the website is ranking well for.
Once you’ve identified the competitors of your client, another awesome chart in SEMrush that I personally like to use is this chart right here:
Getting to the Chart Tool is not very intuitive, follow the screenshot above if you get lost. Instead of performing individual organic research reports for every competitor, why not just chart them all up in a single graph. By doing so, you have the ability the analyse and understand the organic visibility trend of all websites over time. Here, you can quickly determine how well your client is performing overall.
3. Rapid Keyword Research
By now, you should know that SEMrush has awesome keyword level data for almost “all” websites on the internet. According to their website, they have more than 800 million keywords in their database spanning across more than 100 geo-located databases. Yes, you can most definitely plug your competitors’ websites in to the tool and export the data one-by-one. Combine the data, clean the data and analyse the data using Excel. I would do this if I were to do an in-depth keyword research exercise.
Sometimes, all you need is some quick data to help validate an assumption or to help prioritise which keywords are the most relevant to target. This is where the Keyword Gap feature within the SEMrush toolset is extremely powerful.
Just like that, I have identified 172 most common (intersect) keywords that all five website are ranking for. These will be your hyper-relevant keywords keywords. Flicking across to the table view of the report will reveal these keywords, rankings for each website and their associated monthly average search volume:
In this view, you can quickly identify relevant keywords that the website isn’t ranking well for that you can include in your optimisation roadmap for your clients. In addition to this, you can also easily reverse the intersect concept and analyse the keywords that your competitors are ranking for that your client is NOT.
4. In-depth Keyword Research
Like all SEO practitioners, we rely on various keyword datasets when performing in-depth keyword research. After all, it is the single most important element of SEO when you are starting out with a campaign, choosing the wrong keywords to target can lead to zero traction. In addition to the usual data from other tools such as KeywordTool.io, KeywordKeg and Google Keyword Planner, I am finding myself using SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool (recently out of beta) more and more.
What I have found with the Keyword Magic Tool is that the data it returns contains less “noise”. As shown in the above screenshot, keywords ideas are automatically grouped together in to logical categories (if you will). If there is a subset of keywords that may not be relevant, for example I want to exclude all “song” related keywords because I’m selling guitars – all you need to do is click a button and exclude it from the list. The beauty of the SEMrush platform, regardless of the report/tool that you are using are the filters. It gives you the flexibility to slice and dice the data as you wish before exporting it in to Excel.
If you want to take your keyword research a step further and generate some content topics for a website, at a click of the “Questions” buttons reveals the most commonly asked questions based on the seed keyword.
5. Generating Content Ideas
As SEO’s and content marketers, we often need to come up with unique topics and content ideas for our clients. The Keyword Magic Tool is a good start, if you need to help fill a 6 months editorial calendar it probably wouldn’t cut it. This is where SEMrush’s large data set shines once again, they practically have data for every popular website on the internet. This is what I like to do when I am researching for content ideas:
- Enter Reddit.com in to the Organic Research search bar
- Using the advanced filters, enter in your seed keyword
- Sort and filter the data by position and search volume
- Voila! You now have mid-to-long tails keywords to target and most importantly the Reddit URL where the topic is being discussed
In the above example, you can see for the seed keyword “guitar” there are close to 69k rows of data. There is your endless supply of content ideas. Export the data in to Excel, manipulate and slice-n-dice the data as you wish. To make the data more meaningful and actionable, I like to take it a step further and gather more data.
Using the list of URLs from the SEMrush export, feed that in to Screaming Frog and setup custom Xpath extraction. What I really want is the <title> tag, the number of upvotes and the number of comments. Once I have those data points, I can then use the number of upvotes and comments to determine popularity. Allowing me to come up with fresh and popular content ideas.
The same process can be repeated for other Q&A based websites like Quora, Stack Exchange, niche forums and more. Opportunities are literally endless!
6. Failed Site Migration Recovery
Migrating a website to a new platform is a huge investment for most businesses and yet there is often zero consideration on how it would impact SEO, rankings and traffic. At Overdose Digital, we deal with lots of situations where we will be tasked to recover and improve SEO performance post a website migration where no 301 redirect strategy and content migration is in place.
Most of the time, the process is relatively simple. We can utilise data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console and a backup of their old site to then piece everything back together and put a proper 301 redirect strategy and content migration place. What if….Google Analytics tracking was broken, Google Search Console not verified and the client has no backup/access to the old website? WTF are you going to do now?
Once again, SEMrush is often there to save the day. This will only work if you have the GURU subscription and above. By being on the higher package, gives you the ability to tap in to the historical data of a website – as far back as the data goes.
Here’s an example of a site that I have worked on that migrated at the end of September ’17. You can see that SEO visibility gradually declined and plateaued over time. They came to me in June ’18, not knowing what to do. By identifying and confirming the key timelines and the scope of the platform migration we were able to recover the loss if visibility and traffic by implementing accurate 301-redirects from the old website to the new among other SEO improvements.
SEMrush enabled me to go back to September ’17, export keyword and URL data of the website – all 28,000 rows of data. From there, analyse what keywords used to rank really well and drove traffic to the website before the migration. Took the list of URLs can ran it through Screaming Frog to check for HTTP status and redirect chains. For URLs that returned 4XX status codes, we mapped them to relevant pages on the new website and implemented 301-redirects. Two months later, things started to recover!
That’s all folks…
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found it useful and picked up a few tips and tricks. It feels good to blog again after a super LONG hiatus! I’m hoping to make this a regular habit and start blogging more frequently. Any comments and feedback, leave them below or shoot me a tweet.