SEMRush Review – SEO Swiss Army Knife
Building an eCommerce website takes tons of hard work. First of all, you need an idea. When you've got that you have to find the products you want to sell and work out the logistics of stocking and packing. Even if you are drop-shipping it still needs planning to make it function properly.
Next, you have to choose an eCommerce website builder and build out your site. This should be the easiest part of your business plan because the tools to do the job are so much more comprehensive these days.
And when you've researched your product, built your website and filled it with products, you're going to need some traffic to make sales. This is the not so easy bit, and of all the online eCommerce businesses that end up in the bin, the most common reason is traffic – or lack of it.
It's not so important to come up with an original idea. It's more important to have superior execution than your competition. Apart from very few original ideas, most eCommerce sites are variations on a theme. Getting organic traffic flowing into your site is what you need to make your eCommerce website a profitable enterprise.
How are you going to get that all important traffic to your website and how do you know which keywords are going to work for you?
What if you could get an insight into exactly what traffic your competition is getting? What if you could uncover exactly which keywords your competitors are using to mop up all the traffic and make sales? What if you could dissect the keywords the top ranked websites are using to dominate the SERP'S (Search Engine Result Pages).
Well, you can. The tool that does this for you is SEMRush, and it's one of the most widely used keyword research tools in the SEO industry. This tool will save you hundreds of hours of manual researching.
Aside from getting access to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools data, this is as close as you can get to uncovering what makes another site work so well with the least effort.
Combine what you learn from SEMRush with other tools like Ahrefs and other free tools to get as accurate an overview of your project as possible because if there is one drawback of SEMRush, it is that the data is estimated and not always 100% accurate.
The key to using SEMRush intelligently is to measure results over a period of time. When you first key in your domain name you'll be presented with a screen that gives you a snapshot of your site for a moment in time – today. On it's own this data is just nice to look at but when you start using it daily (you don't need to login every day for it to do its magic) you can begin to identify progress and trends.
Which brings me neatly to the starting point of my review and one of the newest features of SEMRush and its most important – Notes.
The biggest mistake a beginner to SEO makes is to make too many changes all in one go to their site to apply the latest SEO thinking. We've all been there and done it. You can't become good at something by skipping the beginner stage.
Often you'll be thinking “why does my site, not rank for X or Y keyword” or even “why isn't my site ranking at all?”
Then off you go to the search engine forum and start diagnosing your problem. Doctors must hate the internet because so many patients self-diagnose themselves so inaccurately. It can't be helped because it is so easy to do – ailment = Google.
Perhaps the menu items should be changed to incorporate the site keywords? Should I have that site wide menu footer or is it spammy? Is linking out to Dmoz or Google from my homepage going to make a massive difference to my rankings? Perhaps I should change my page titles?
You make the changes and a few days later your rankings tank. Perhaps you should put it back how it was before. Perhaps it is a Google update? Maybe give it more time?
Hint: Use Screaming Frog Spider to analyse your site and highlight where page titles and descriptions can be improved as well as broken links and other server errors.
The problem is you don't have a record of your site changes and that is where “Notes” comes in to fill that gap. I keep a record of all my site modifications in a spreadsheet describing what I did and the date the change was made. SEMRush Notes makes this far easier to manage and now you can see a record of your site changes set against your website data.
Making notes or keeping a record of your site changes is essential practice. If you ever wanted to get someone to analyse your site, giving them a record of all your site changes and improvements and the date they were made helps them make sense of all the data.
Pro Tip: One of the best ways of finding keywords that users are actively searching for and have weak competition is to blog. It's a side effect of blogging that you'll pick up long tail traffic for keyword phrases that no one else has optimised for and that's another good reason for adding a blog to your eCommerce website.
You can use SEMRush to find the keywords that your competition is ranking for and for each keyword you'll get an estimate of the amount of searches made and an estimate of its traffic value.
Enter your keyword and when you hit enter you'll be presented with the results for that keyword and also a ton of other related keywords.
This is where it gets interesting because now you can drill down on any keyword and get more relevant keywords along with the search volume and an estimated CPC value if you were buying ads for that keyword. The report will also show you the trend for the keyword so it will flag up anything that is obviously on a downward spiral or more importantly those keywords on the way up.
Introducing SEO Keyword Magic
You've got a great site but a trickle of traffic. In my “Website Promotion Basics” article I breakdown the art of gaining traffic into its simplest forms, stripping away all the bullshit that you normally associate with any generic “guide” to gaining more traffic.
For most people, working solo, you only have what you see in your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools control panels to guide you in your day to day SEO effort. How do you know how well you are doing against the competition? Reports are just reports unless you have something tangible to measure your results against.
For it's against the competition Google measures you. You need a machine gun to go into battle with rather than the bows and arrows of yesterday.
This is where SEMRush is the biggest weapon in your armoury, it uncovers and lays bare nearly everything that your competition is doing to rank. More than that the new SEO Keyword Magic tool does exactly what it indicates it might do. This is the Harry Potter of Keyword Difficulty.
You don't need a guru telling you that you need more links to rank or to create more content. That, my reading friend, is blindingly obvious to even the complete SEO beginner.
What you need is the exact information to help you overcome your site limitations and rank for keywords that suit your site ranking power or MOZ ranking. You need to know which keywords you can expect to rank for today. SEO Keyword Magic does the heavy lifting for you and highlights the areas where you can make the most gains for the least amount of effort.
SEO Keyword Magic helps you quickly find and isolate the juicy fruit just waiting to be plucked from the low lying branches.
SEO Keyword Magic In Action
I'm looking for the next review to do here on Storebuilder, so I used SEO Keyword Magic to help me find the next review with the best chance of ranking highly.
Once you've typed in your main keyword, SEO Keyword Magic returns a list of all the associated keywords. This is where things get exciting because now you can group keywords into niches and do some further analysis to find which keywords you are going to target next.
For example in the list above the second most trafficked term is "Godaddy website builder reviews". I hadn't considered doing a Godaddy review because, well frankly their offering is not up to much. But it's an easier keyword to rank for, and it's almost equally valuable as the primary term.
Let's drill down and explore this keyword in some more detail:
It's a highly valuable keyword phrase that could bring in a lot of related traffic.
Now, as regular readers will know I also run a casino affiliate site and we can use SEO KeyWord Magic to find our next casino review that has the best chance of ranking and will bring the most traffic, the low lying fruit.
Just type "Casino Reviews" into the SEO Magic wizard:
Now usually you would export the list to an excel file to do some sorting but with SEO Magic you enter the keyword you want included - in this case "review" and set the volume threshold at a minimum. I've entered 300 with a keyword difficulty below 40% and SEO Magic does the business for me:
In just a few minutes I've managed to find my next review project! That is SEO Keyword Magic power for you.
You'll start off by entering a competitor domain. Here I've chosen the domain name that I want to catch and overhaul in the SERP's. They have a four-year head start on me and do a good job, so it is going to be a challenge to get there.
Pro Tip: Want to see what a domain looked like in its infancy? Use archive.org. It is never a good idea to compare your beginning with someone else's middle.
You can also use the “domain vs. domain” feature to compare one domain against another.
Once you have the competitive analysis up you can drill down into the backlinks to discover where all of their backlinks are coming from. It's like taking their clothes off and making them walk naked in public. Once you know where someone's backlinks are coming from you can use the information to refine your own strategy. Many times you'll find opportunities to gain links where a web page has aggregated information and you simply ask to be added to the list. This tool will get you those pages and in double quick time too. Score some fast and easy links.
SEO Ideas And Workflow Management
Where do you begin in the quest to start gaining more traffic to your site?
One way is to simply write more content. There's no doubt that creating an enormous amount of content works well but only if it's quality content and that's what makes this strategy difficult. Creating lots of quality content is nowhere near as easy as simply creating lots of content.
Another way is to go over your older posts and bring them up to date with more relevant and timely information adding some new internal links to more recent content you've created.
This is the thinking behind SEMrush "SEO Ideas" tool. And it's brilliant.
Not only does the tool give you the ideas to improve your existing content, it also gives you the option to export the work you need doing to Trello. If you haven't used project management tools before then Trello is a very visual way of representing your workflow and it's also great for sharing ideas and getting more done with other members of your workteam.
The SEO ideas tool will analyse your existing pages and choose the content it thinks could most do with some "polishing up" to give it a rankings boost. If you ever wanted to know where to begin giving your site a shot in the arm then this tool is worth the entrance fee alone. Working on your existing content that already ranks highly to make it even better is a great use of your time and managing the tasks by sending them to a project management system is a masterstroke.
Now you can get a list of all the SEO tasks you need to carry out on your site and prioritise them using Trello.
This is where SEMRush earns its corn and why I think it is the go-to tool for any one that wants to improve their search engine rankings.
SEO moves slowly. You know it, I know it.
Sometimes you can be sitting looking at your site and wondering why you don't have as much traffic as you'd like or wondering if you are ever going to get to the traffic levels that will see you quit the day job.
SEMRush is valuable because of the reporting functions available, and they make it easy to see your progress. Even webmaster tools only keep data for 90 days so if you want to see what improvements you've made over a six month period which is a much better timescale you can't do it.
Google Analytics lets you go back to the beginning of time, but it doesn't have the overall picture that SEMRush can generate in its reporting functions. Combine reports with notes, and you have a great SEO audit trail for your site.
Also, neither Analytics nor WMT can track your keyword rankings over time. If you are using SEMRush for the first time, it will automatically load up all the keywords it detects you are ranking for, and you can start tracking them.
Back in the day when I used to do a lot of consultancy work I used a tool called “Webposition Gold” which would monitor a set of keywords and generate some excellent reports for clients. Google tried killing it off several times because of the amount of queries the software made, but at the time it was cutting edge.
There was a time when I walked into the offices of autohit.com to produce my monthly Webposition Gold report (I couldn't do it from home because broadband wasn't widely available then) and brought the whole office network to its knees. Can you say “resource intensive!”.
Thankfully we've moved on pretty quickly and if you offer any type of client consulting then one of the features of SEMRush you'll really like is the ability to be able to generate branded reports. You just upload your logo and drag and drop the type of report you want to build and Voilà!
You'll look like a FTSE 100 Website Design Agency.
Have you used SEMRush? Let me know your experiences in the comments.
SEMRush gets the maximum 10 stars for ease of use and whilst the search engine traffic data isn't entirely accurate once you start using it you are benchmarking against every other website using the same metrics. If you want to know your exact traffic numbers then you'd use Google analytics for that.
Reporting is the strong suit here and you can build up a picture of your site and how it performs over time that you could only manage manually without.
The new "notes" feature is a fantastic feature for experienced SEO's who can now monitor and track all the site changes they make transparently with clients.
In depth keyword research and backlink analysis, competitor analysis and site audit tools make this a fantastic addition to your SEO toolbox.