SEMRush 2020: Finding Out If It’s as Good as It Promises

by Corey Philip
October 19, 2020

100+ Hours Using SEMrush

40+ Websites Monitored

6 Top Features

50+ User Feedback Collected

10 Pros, 6 Cons, 1 Conclusion

20 Industry Experts Consulted

The world of digital marketing is broad and continuously expansive. With the winds of change consistently challenging businesses to adapt to people’s demands, strategy management and innovation for varied platforms can be too much to handle. 

Digital marketing currently involves different practices such as pay-per-click ads, content, social media, and search engine optimization to keep your competitors at bay. Since online presence significantly accounts for brand awareness and potential sales, a tool that helps you manage key online platforms is crucial to your success. 

Businesses have thrived on the digital scene thanks to tools that save time (and maintain sanity). One such popular marketing tool is SEMrush. With over 40 integrations, every aspect of digital marketing is covered. You even have the choice to focus on the aspects you believe are key to your strategy, whether it be social media management or market research.

But is it really the powerful tool it presents itself to be, or is that all promotional fluff?

My Experience with SEMrush

When I started out with digital marketing, I must admit that I wasn't quite aware of the different aspects that would come into play. I had no idea how site audits worked and I often went into campaigns gung-ho without doing any keyword research. When a colleague introduced SEMrush, I was quite skeptical at first. For me, the only basis of a good digital marketing strategy was a
working website, converting ads and activity on social media. But, SEMrush proved me wrong.

Performance & Functionality

Ease of Platform Use

Value for Money

Customer Support

SEMrush has played a role in improving the website rankings of businesses I've partnered with. Aside from my usual methods, I've used SEMrush to know what keywords to target for my content marketing. I also check out what my competitors are doing to optimize my strategy and stay one step ahead from everyone else.

The feature I use the most on SEMrush is SEO Audit. It provides my team with actionable points on any issues it might have scraped from the websites I handle. With every fix, it even gives info on how the changes will impact the website's health. That, for me, is invaluable for our digital marketing strategy success.

But enough about me. Let's jump into the highs and lows of SEMrush!


Are you new to the world of online marketing? The continuous adaptation of
digital demands can be overwhelming, if it weren't for tools like SEMrush. It offers a wide variety of tools to help your organization ace the many aspects of digital marketing. From SEO, SMM, keyword research, and site audits, trust that SEMrush has you covered.

Key  Features:

  • Keyword Research
  • Site Audit
  • Link Building
  • Backlink Analysis and Audit
  • Competitor Analysis



Performance & Functionality

Ease of Platform Use

Value for Money

Customer Support

Don't Rush Through This SEMrush Overview

Companies have grasped the need to adapt to ever-changing client needs, thus turning their websites into a virtual extension of their business. But no matter how amazing your website is, people won't notice it if it isn’t ranking well on search engines. Seriously, who goes through ten pages of search engine results when looking for an online store that sells power tools? Heck, I don't even have the patience to browse until page 5.

To help businesses optimize their websites for different search engines, SEMrush was established in 2008. And as the need for digital marketing strategies have grown, they now have over 5 million users. This number is enough to say that SEMrush is valued by many. 

Using this tool, you get valuable information on the technical aspects of your website, link-building opportunities, keywords to drive traffic, and other SEO tweaks that can boost the significance and relevance of your content.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Before we dive in, let's start with pricing.

Plans and Pricing

SEMrush offers flexible pricing options for businesses of various needs and sizes. These prices also indicate the scope of features a company can get. Check out the breakdown below. 





Basic subscription

  • 10,000 results per report
  • 3,000 reports per day
  • 5 projects
  • 500 tracked keywords
  • 100,000 pages crawled per month
  • 20,000 pages crawled per project
  • 500 SEO idea units
  • 50 social profiles for monitoring
  • 10 social profiles for posting
  • Sharing with edit access
  • 1 user included, with additional users at $70 monthly




For more advanced digital commerce projects, agencies, and businesses with bigger online presence

  • 50,000 results per report
  • 10,000 reports per day
  • 200 projects
  • 5,000 tracked keywords
  • 1,000,000 pages crawled per month
  • 100,000 pages crawled per project
  • 2,000 SEO idea units
  • 300 social profiles for monitoring
  • 50 social profiles for posting
  • Historical data, multi-targeting, product listing ads, sharing with read-only access, and sharing with edit access. 
  • 1 user included, with additional users at $140 monthly

If you're curious about their refund policy or switching between plans, SEMrush has a comprehensive pricing FAQ on their website.

To get a hang of the functions, you can try the Pro and Guru plans free for only 7 days. It's a lot shorter than other free trials, but it should be enough time to figure out which subscription is for you.

SEMrush Features: What to Expect?

SEMrush's digital marketing arsenal comes with a whopping 40+ tools. Based on collective feedback from users, industry experts as well as my personal experience, we compiled a list of what definitely stood out from the rest. Below are the features that makes SEMrush one to watch out for. 

Intuitive Dashboard and Feature Navigation

When you take a look at SEMrush’s dashboard, you can see how it closely resembles competing service providers like Ahrefs and Moz. All of the digital marketing tools are grouped on the left and managed on the right. 

All of these tools seem daunting to a first-timer. Moreover, registered premium users and industry experts say that SEMrush’s reporting can overwhelm users with how it presents data. But after a bit of exploration and getting the hang of things, you will find that using it is quite intuitive and exciting. 

Keyword Research

Digital marketing revolves around content that is valuable to people who use the internet to get the answers to their queries. So how do you reach those people?

When you submit your queries to search engines, they throw back content relevant to your search based on keywords. You want your content to target the keywords that your potential audience could be searching for. To find out what these keywords are, you must perform comprehensive keyword research.

Using SEMrush’s intuitive dashboard, all you need to do is type the keyword in the Overview tool under Keyword Analytics. One click, a few seconds of waiting, and voila! All the information you need to create exceptional, shareable content is right before your eyes. Aside from a list of keywords, you also get other relevant information such as:

  • The number of people are looking for a particular keyword
  • How difficult it would be to rank for that keyword
  • The competitors ranking for the same keyword

If your chosen keywords are way too difficult to rank for, SEMrush provides a solution called keyword suggestions from their vast database. You can pick the best ones based on volume, popularity, costs and other metrics for more targeted digital marketing activities.

With all of this information, you can now better understand and reach your audience to boost your SEO or PPC campaigns, build brand awareness, get leads and increase sales.

Domain Analysis

When setting up a business, you often perform a SWOT Analysis to assess you and your competition's strengths and weaknesses. The same goes for websites, which can be done with SEMrush's Domain Analysis tool. It provides you with a comprehensive analysis of your website’s performance in terms of authority, search traffic, backlinks, and display advertising.

You get a quick overview of what SEMrush thinks of your website quality based on hard data such as monthly visits, keyword positions, number of backlinks and more. These provide important insights on your website so you know what you need to work on and where you are excelling.

A notable feature in Domain Overview is Comparison Mode, which gives you valuable information on how strong your website is against your competitors. You can do a side-by-side comparison between different domains based on metrics like traffic and keywords.

If all you need is a short take on your performance, you can also check out the competitive positioning map.

One thing you do need to remember is that these numbers are not bulletproof. In terms of accuracy, these figures are more like close estimates so you don't have to go through different tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Despite this, Domain Overview is still a powerful tool.

Backlink Analysis and Audits

When it comes to SEO-friendly content, the presence of backlinks is essential. Basically, they are external websites that link back to your site, thus the name "backlinks". These can be vital information, statistics, or web resource that proves the credibility of your content. On the other hand, backlinks found on low authority and shady websites do the complete opposite.

SEMRush uses two backlink features called backlink analytics and backlink audit. Backlink analytics can be utilized to view the anchor text used, top-level domain distribution and the IP addresses of these backlinks. You get to see what backlinks are attached to your website immediately. Another thing you can do is monitor your progress in building links, whether a new one has popped up or an old one was deleted. 

On the other hand, the backlink audit tool allows you to assess the referring domain and identify which ones can hurt your chances of being ranked in various search engines. Toxic links increase the chances of search engines penalizing you, so you want to avoid these as much as possible. You can compile the bad backlinks and upload them to Google as a “disavow file” or send an email to the domain to request for removal. All of these can be tracked through te tool.

Website Audit

Overall website health should be a top concern, as search engines don't rank you based on your site's appearance. Healthier websites create a better user experience that will improve your search rankings. On the other hand, websites with low health scores rack up errors and warnings that could get you banned from search results.

For this reason, people fawn over SEMrush's capacity to conduct thorough website audits. You can use it to identify what factors negatively affect your ranking. These include duplicate content, SSL issues, crawl errors, missing headers, keyword stuffing, and slow-loading content. Notices are the least severe of the issues on your website, while errors are the most.

But what use are these factors if you don't know what to do? You don't need to search for a solution to each problem as you also get actionable tips on how to fix your site with your report. SEMrush even reminds users why such tweaks are needed, so you don't feel like you're going in blind.

Link Building

One way of guaranteeing online presence is by building links to your site. So how can SEMrush help you get other websites to link their content to yours? With just one click, you can generate which sites are available for guest posts or collaborations based on your competitors and target keywords. This can become the basis of your outreach campaigns so you can acquire more links for your website.

Aside from getting a list of prospective links, you can manage and monitor your outreach process. If you think you can’t possibly connect with the site for an outreach post, SEMrush can even provide you with an email address and a reusable email template for successful link building.

Going Through the Highs and Lows of SEMrush

Having understood the best features that SEMrush has to offer, it’s now time to weigh in the pros and cons of SEMrush when it comes to digital marketing.


  • Exceptional for comprehensive keyword analysis using the largest keyword database.
  • Gives more than just a list of keywords as It guides you in picking the best ones for your niche 
  • Thorough web audit and analysis for further optimization and competitor assessment
  • Outstanding link building for effective SEO Strategies
  • Consistent updates of features
  • Notifies you of spammy links and allows you to disavow compiled links
  • Customer research (by demographics, age, gender and other classifications)
  • PPC Planning and Research for efficient ads or promotions
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Reporting for various digital marketing needs
  • Customer Support is available for mobile, chat and email platforms


  • A wide array of tools displayed right away can confuse and overwhelm new users
  • Despite having the largest keyword database, registered premium users often complain about the keyword rankings not being updated real-time
  • When it comes to keyword research, SEMrush only provides data from Google
  • Think twice before accessing SEMrush on mobile devices as industry experts and registered users think it’s unresponsive
  • Simultaneous logins aren’t supported
  • There are add-on tools that you need to pay for separately

The Final Verdict: Should SEMrush Be Your Go-to Digital Marketing Tool? 

A steady stream of organic traffic is a must for digital marketing. SEMrush can help you achieve that and more with all the features it offers. Like a digital marketing Swiss Knife, it comes with a variety of tools that will help you see trends, take advantage of them, and overstep your competition.

SEMrush is a more sophisticated digital marketing tool that may take some time to learn and understand. Don't just get a SEMrush account to ride the waves of digitization. You need dedication to creating valuable online content before jumping in and using advanced digital marketing tools. 

The pricing can be a turn-off for most, with the cheapest subscription at roughly $100 per month. If you don't see the value in digital marketing, paying for a month’s subscription is a waste of resources. However, if you can optimize your campaigns with everything SEMrush has to offer, the $100 you spent isn’t an expenditure. It’s an investment.

Keep in mind that tools have free trials for you to experience the features first-hand without paying. Before you make the decision of using SEMrush for your business, try it for free first so you can figure out how it will fit in or improve your current digital marketing strategy.

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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