SEMrush review – A Detailed Guide On using SEMRush

I have used the paid $69 product from SEMrush intermittently since February 2015. I have previously written about Linkresearchtools and a detailed comparison between Google Analytics and Piwik. If you have been on the fence about buying SEMrush, then read on. If you are looking for a TL;DR then just scroll to the bottom.

If I was, to sum up, this entire post into one offering that keeps me coming back to SEMrush then it’s is the accuracy with which it tells me competitors AdWords spend. It does not have the data for all the websites I look up, but for those sites that it does have the data, it does a pretty good job.

For the purposes of competitors analysis, I will take the example of the word “credit card” here in Australia.

When searching for the term “credit cards” from Melbourne region gives the following SERP

Scrolling down to the bottom and the next page I can also see the following competitors

  • Nab Australia Bank
  • Mebank
  • Creditcardcompare (ranks one organically)
  • Creditcard4u
  • tmbank
  • Virginmoney
  • Commbank

If Commbank were developing their AdWords strategy, the following should be the points of consideration.

Using SEMrush, with the domain analytics and selecting the Australian database, I will try and approximate what each of these competitors is doing.

ANZ bank Paid searches snapshot via SEMrush. $215K/Day.

Note: Not all of them are “credit cards” related terms. Attached is a full snapshot of ANZ.

American Express Paid searches snapshot @ 92.3K/Day

Coles Paid searches snapshot  @ 13.3K/Day

Creditcardfinder Paid searches snapshot  @ 61.6K/Day

  • Nab Australia Bank @ 167K/Day
  • Mebank @ 28.4k/Day
  • Creditcardcompare (ranks 1 organically) @ 11.8K/Day
  • @ 5.5k/Day
  • Creditcard4u 2 2.8k/Day
  • tmbank @ 7.6k/Day
  • Virginmoney @ 32.2k/Day
  • Commbank @ 127k/Day

I manage some high volume accounts. I have compared the spend that SEMrush shows to what the client spends in their console.

SEMrush AdWords spend estimation tool is a bit of a hit and a miss.

If you are a large business or looking up competition for large business SEMrush will have useful data, and hence the approximation of spend is closer to the mark.If you are a small business, then the estimate will be a bit of a hit and a miss.I have gone through a lot of AdWords accounts and utilised the SEMrush tool to understand that this component is perhaps unique to SEMrush and extremely helpful for AdWords manager.

I utilise that information to go to any new client seeking to improve their AdWords output and wanting some form of intelligence on their competitors.

If you wanted a consolidated report for all competitors, then click the “competitors” menu option.


Ads Traffic Price – Gives you an estimate of the budget for that business.

Ads Traffic – Gives you a breakdown of the traffic from that budget.

Notice how Creditcardfinder spends 61.6K for 3.5K traffic while Virginmoney also gets the same traffic for half the budget. Virginmoney bids on a lot of terms that are not credit card related. Their spectrum of bids is diluted by other forms of their offerings.

This exercise will further help you eliminate those competitors that offer a variety of services. I typically look at the ones that closely resemble my client. For example, Commbank would need to worry about ANZ, WBC and NAB because all of them are banks.

PRO TIP for SEMrush: Put a little selection box in front of each competitor and allow me to remove or hide the ones that I am not interested in. Use this data to categorize and recategorize your results and fine tune this for other users looking for the same term. For an example, Fleetcare showed as a competitor to ANZ because of the bidding on car-related word but really they are not competing with each other. One is a fleet management company and one is a bank. Advanced Filter is present on a lot of other reports but not on the competitors.

Ad copies is another exciting feature for me.In a single snapshot, I can see all the forms of ads that the competitor was using. For example using the advanced filter I picked all the ads that ANZ had with the word card.

Each ad has a corresponding number of keywords that are attached to that group.

The exciting thing about ANZ is that it is bidding on terms like “black card”. It has 100 keywords attached to it for bidding.

If I expand the keyword selection, then I get all the keywords that ANZ is bidding on for that key term.

Excellent strategy ANZ.

It also seems that Commbank isn’t even bidding on their brand terms.

On the other hand, ANZ seems to be bidding on most competitors credit card related queries.

It is necessary for all brands to bid on their brand terms. It has tremendous advantages. You can control your six-pack listings with paid ads; you can control what products you want to push, title, descriptions, and even control that your competitors do not take away the business that you have worked hard to build.

Typo on Commbank also brings up ANZ’s aggressive bidding strategy around their competitors brand names.

Ads evolution or Ads history is another fascinating thing SEMrush is doing that I find unique to them.

For example, you can go to a provider’s ads history as shown in the following report.

As you can see, since January 2016 the focus has been towards targeting this debit card to a younger audience.

Note the usage of the words “parents”, “14 years old” and so on.

The ads history report is brilliant because it serves as an archive of what’s happening with your competitors.

This example outlines a change in ANZ’s strategy during that time of the year around their visa debit offerings.

You can further segment this report by utilising their advanced filters. The filter serves an excellent usability purpose, and I think this screen should become omnipresent in their offerings across the board.

The URL menu option on their domain analytics is also beneficial. Now bear in mind if you are researching small business this data might not always be available. I have found that a lot of times SEMrush does not provide data for some domains I am researching.SEO wise this is also data-poor in that you will have to wait for it to have that data.

However, when it does, I can see the breakdown of what budget is used for what offering.

For example, if I wanted to find out how much money does ANZ spend on the Visa debit offering then I merely plugin that URL.

Product Listing Ads

A bit of digressing here to show one of SEMrush’s another offering. The Product listing ads on Google network is also estimated from a paid search point.

Since the credit card industry does not do product listing ads, I am taking an example of a large retailer that does fashion clothing.

You can get the metrics like

  • Keywords
  • Cost
  • Thumbnails
  • Text
  • Number of ads

The $69 plan is a bit limited for product listing ads keyword.

You can also see who the product listing ads competitors are

Again the plan is a bit limited, but it does give you an insight into the data.

Their Display and Youtube data tools are under Beta.

I was able to pull up ANZ’s Singapore offering via the tool.

For example, on a lot of Singapore-based sites, ANZ was advertising display ads.

The tool is very much in beta as seen from the screenshot above. Display and Youtube are two offerings that are in beta. They are useful, but the data is missing as they have just introduced this facility.

Organic Search offerings

SEMrush’s organic search offerings could be much better. Considering the amount of data they are collecting they need to step up their segmentation.

Companies based in Melbourne and only serving Melbourne will need to be able to show results segmented based in Melbourne. SEMrush ranking report for organic is OK. It is sometimes a bit unreliable but gives a good picture of competitors rankings.

A lot of domains in Australia are returning a not found result. If you return a few days later, you will see that SEMrush will have collected some data on these domains. For each lookup, SEMrush is then recording these URLs and then at a later stage queuing it up for the crawl.

Subdomain Finder

Now SEMrush also offers a new subdomain finder and relevant traffic to those subdomains. This is a good way of identifying any specific subdomain traffic or all pertinent landing page strategy that a competitor is employing.


SEMrush has a very good firepower/uniqueness for paid search folks. Worth the $69 fee for sure. Their natural search offerings are at par with the industry.