How to Use Semrush to Take Your SEO Game to the Next Level
Have you ever felt like you’re just spinning your wheels regarding SEO? You run your keywords through the usual free tools, publish some content, and cross your fingers that something will stick. But nothing ever seems to happen.
Suddenly, I had access to a goldmine of competitor intelligence that showed me exactly which keywords and content worked in my niche. I could see what the top-ranking sites were doing and reverse engineer their success. It was like having the cheat codes to rank #1 on Google.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to use Semrush to take your SEO results to the next level. We’ll cover:
- How to research keywords and content ideas
- Competitor analysis
- Tracking your rankings
- Link building opportunities
- Site audits
- And more
Even if you’re brand new to Semrush, by the end of this guide, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of where you are today. Let’s get started!
Getting Started with Semrush
First things first, you’ll need to sign up for a paid Semrush account. They offer a free trial, but you’ll need at least a Pro plan to access all the goodies.
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll arrive at the Semrush dashboard. Your home base gives you access to all of Semrush’s tools.
Semrush’s Core SEO Toolkits
Semrush is packed with features, which can be a bit overwhelming initially. But these are the key toolkits you’ll want to focus on for SEO:
- Keyword Research – Discover high-traffic, low-competition keywords in your niche. It is the heart of any SEO campaign.
- Competitive Research – Spy on your competitors to see what’s working for them.
- Site Audit – Check your website’s technical SEO health and find areas for improvement.
- Position Tracking – Monitor your search engine rankings for target keywords.
- Backlink Audit – See who is linking to your site and your competitors.
There are also toolkits for PPC, content marketing, social media and more. But the ones above will have the biggest impact on SEO.
Now, let’s dive into each toolkit and see how to use them to dominate the SERPs.
How to Use Semrush:
Semrush Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy. You need to rank for keywords that people are actually searching for to get traffic.
Semrush’s keyword research toolkit lets you quickly discover thousands of profitable, low-competition keywords in your niche.
One of the quickest ways to research keywords is with the Keyword Overview report. Just enter a seed keyword, and Semrush will show you data for that term and recommendations for related keywords.
You’ll see metrics like:
- Monthly search volume
- Keyword difficulty (how hard it will be to rank)
- Cost-per-click (for paid search)
- Top ranking domains
- And more
It gives you an instant snapshot of which related keywords are worth targeting in your content.
Keyword Magic Tool
The Keyword Magic Tool is like a keyword generator on steroids. Enter a topic, and Semrush will churn out hundreds of semantic keyword variations and ideas.
For example, I entered “content marketing” as the topic, and Semrush returned “content marketing strategy,” “types of content marketing,” “content marketing examples,” and many more long-tail variations.
It is an endless source of ideas when you’re trying to expand your keyword list.
Want to see the keywords your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t? Keyword Gap shows you exactly that.
Enter a competitor’s domain and your own. Semrush will reveal the keywords they rank for that your site doesn’t.
It is a goldmine for discovering new targets to go after. If other sites can rank for those terms, so can you.
Once you’ve built your keyword list, you must track their positions over time. That’s where Semrush’s Position Tracking tool comes in…
Track Your Keyword Rankings
The Position Tracking tool shows you exactly where your site ranks in Google for your target keywords and how those positions change over time.
You can enter hundreds or even thousands of keywords to monitor. Semrush will display their rankings in an easy-to-scan table and chart them in a graph.
Filter by keyword, location, or device to analyze the data. You can also compare your rankings to a competitor’s site.
It lets you quickly see which keywords are moving up or down for your site. If rankings are dropping, it’s a sign you may need to optimize a page. Rising rankings indicate your efforts are paying off.
From an SEO perspective, this is one of the most valuable tools in Semrush.
Conduct Competitor Research
Do you ever wonder how your competitors are getting so much organic traffic? Well, Semrush can help uncover exactly what they’re doing.
The competitive research toolkit allows you to dig into a competitor’s strategy so you can:
- Find profitable keyword opportunities
- See what kind of content works for them
- Analyze their backlink profile
- And much more
Here are a few ways to leverage competitive intelligence from Semrush:
Want to see the top keywords driving traffic to a competitor’s site? Organic Research shows you exactly that.
Simply enter their domain, and the keywords will be listed along with monthly traffic estimates. Filter by keyword difficulty to quickly find easy-to-rank targets.
You can also export this data or send it to the Keyword Magic Tool to expand the list.
Competitor Backlink Audit
Backlinks are often one of the top-ranking factors for a site. So, you need to know who is linking to your competitors.
The Backlink Audit tool reveals all the domains linking to a site along with metrics for each backlink like:
- Anchor text
- Domain authority
- First seen date
- And more
Sort by domain authority to quickly see their most powerful backlinks. Filter by anchor text to identify opportunities to mimic their link-building tactics.
It is precious intel for improving your link-building and catching up to the competition.
How much organic traffic is a competitor getting overall or for a specific landing page?
Traffic Analytics shows you estimated visits and traffic sources over time. You can see if they get spikes from news coverage or other events.
Use this to benchmark your performance against theirs or to size up a site before making it your new target competitor.
Audit Your Own Website’s SEO
You’ve got the competition dialled in. But now it’s time to look inward and make sure your own site is technically sound for SEO.
Semrush’s Site Audit tool crawls your site and generates a massive report identifying issues to fix and optimization opportunities.
You’ll see actionable tips on things like:
- Indexation issues like pages not being crawled
- Duplicate content problems
- Broken links
- Issues with page speed or mobile optimization
- Opportunities to add more meta descriptions
- And much more
The audit even assigns your website an overall score to understand your health.
From on-page optimization to site architecture and technical SEO, Site Audit will uncover areas that need work so you can improve your organic rankings.
Find Link Building Opportunities
As we covered earlier, backlinks are hugely important for SEO. So, you must be proactive about getting authoritative sites to link to you.
Semrush has several tools to uncover link-building tactics and opportunities:
We already discussed how Backlink Gap reveals competitors’ backlinks you don’t have. You can reach out to the sites linking to them and get them to link to you.
This tool shows you top-performing pages and posts ranking for your target keywords—filter by domain authority to find powerful pages to pitch for backlinks.
Find sites that are linking to multiple competitors but not you. These are great prospects since they’re already linking to similar sites.
Link Building Tool
It automates the process of finding link prospects and outreach. Discover sites to connect with, manage outreach, and build relationships that turn into backlinks.
If you want to speed up your link-building results, Semrush has the tools to make it happen.
More Features to Explore
It just scratches the surface of what Semrush can do. Here are a few more features worth exploring:
- SEO Content Template – Create perfectly optimized articles and pages faster.
- Google Ads Keyword Tool – Research PPC keywords and get suggested bid estimates.
- SERP Features – See what rich snippet results your competitors are ranking for.
- Backlink Checker – Analyze any page’s backlink profile on the fly.
- Keyword Difficulty – Estimate how hard it will be to rank for a term.
- SEO Writing Assistant – Check article readability and word count, highlighting issues.
Take time to poke around all Semrush’s toolkits. So many gems are hiding in there that can give you a leg up on the competition.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does Semrush integrate with other tools?
Yes, Semrush offers integration with Google Analytics, Search Console, Ads, and Microsoft Advertising. It also integrates with many SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Screaming Frog, and content marketing tools like BuzzSumo.
What is Semrush’s accuracy like?
Semrush uses a variety of data sources to provide estimates on traffic, rankings, and other metrics. While not 100% accurate, it gives you a very good idea of your overall performance and competitors’ strategies. Many users find it sufficient for most SEO tasks.
Semrush – The All-In-One SEO Swiss Army Knife
As you can see, Semrush brings all the essential SEO tools together under one roof.
You get the actionable competitive intelligence, website auditing capabilities, and rank tracking you need to build a winning strategy.
It’s no wonder Semrush has become the go-to SEO toolset for professionals and agencies. When juggling multiple clients and projects, the platform keeps your workflow running smoothly.
So, if you rely on free or limited tools, do yourself a favour and invest in Semrush. It will pay for itself many times over through the results it delivers.
What aspect of Semrush are you most excited to start using? Let me know in the comments!
*The information this blog provides is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. The information may not reflect current developments and may be changed or updated without notice. Any opinions expressed on this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s employer or any other organization. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this blog without first seeking the advice of a professional. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this blog. The author and affiliated parties assume no liability for any errors or omissions.