Semrush Review — All the Pros and Cons

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Written by Chris Singleton | Researched and reviewed by Matt Walsh

In this Semrush review, I explore the pros and cons of one of the best-known SEO tools available. Does it live up to its reputation — or should you investigate some alternatives?


Semrush is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market, and because of its ‘industry standard’ status within the SEO community, a lot of site owners naturally gravitate towards it.

But is it actually right for you? Well, in this post I’m going to help you answer that question. I’m going to discuss how Semrush stacks up in terms of…

  • Domain analysis
  • Keyword research features
  • Rank tracking
  • Backlink analysis
  • Link building tools
  • Site auditing features
  • Interface and ease-of-use
  • Pricing and value for money
  • Customer support

And more!

Let’s start things off with a look at Semrush’s background.


Semrush: the background

Created in 2008 by Oleg Shchegolev and Dmitry Melnikov, Semrush is one of the most popular SEO tools available, with around 112,000 paying subscribers (source: Semrush Q1 2024 Financial Report).

The Semrush platform
The Semrush SEO platform

Semrush helps you improve your SEO by giving you a lot of data — information that you can use to:

  • find out what people are searching for on Google
  • create new web content that is likely to attract traffic
  • identify link-building opportunities
  • tweak technical aspects of your site so that it achieves higher search rankings.

For example, based on the phrases you enter, Semrush can give you keyword suggestions that can be used as the basis for writing blog posts that are likely to perform well in search results.

It can also tell you how difficult it will be to rank for specific search queries.

It will suggest websites that might be worth approaching for backlinks.

And it allows you to perform SEO audits on your website to find out if there are any technical improvements you can make to it that will help you achieve better search results.

That’s just the beginning though — there are many other features provided by Semrush that are designed to help you improve your site’s search rankings.

I’ll go through these in depth below, highlighting all their pros and cons.

Let’s continue by looking at something called domain analysis.


Domain analysis features

Most SEO projects start with some basic domain analysis. This means getting a simple overview of the ‘quality’ of a domain from an SEO point of view.

You typically perform domain analysis on your own website — to see where SEO improvements could be made — or on a competitor’s, to see how difficult it will be to outrank them in search results (and to find ways to do so).

You might also perform domain analysis on a website in order to see if it’s worth approaching its owner for a link from that site to yours — this is because external links (‘backlinks’) from high-quality websites to your content can boost your site’s overall performance in search results.

It’s easy to perform domain analysis in Semrush — you just enter a domain URL in its ‘domain overview’ section, and you get an immediate sense of how it’s performing in Google.

Below you’ll find a screenshot of some domain analysis being performed with Semrush on a hugely popular website, the New York Times. As you can see, a rich supply of data on this site is provided by the tool.

Performing domain analysis on the New York Times website using the Semrush 'domain overview' tool.
Performing domain analysis on the New York Times website using Semrush’s ‘Domain Overview’ feature

Metrics provided by Semrush’s ‘Domain Overview’ feature include:

  • An ‘authority score’
  • The total number of visitors to the website per month
  • The total number of external links (‘backlinks’) pointing to the website
  • The total number of keywords the website ranks for, and the ‘search intent’ behind them
  • Anchor text commonly used in links to the website
  • Top performing keywords
  • Display advertising stats
  • Competing websites

Of the above metrics, the one that gives you the quickest understanding of site quality is usually the ‘authority score.’

The Semrush authority score (highlighted with arrow) gives you the quickest understanding of the quality of a site.
The authority score (highlighted above with arrow) gives you the quickest understanding of the quality of a site.

Semrush calculates this based on:

  • backlink data — the number of links pointing to the site
  • spam markers‘ — how many low quality or ‘spammy’ links are contained within a site’s backlink profile
  • organic search data, including organic search traffic and keyword positions.

Now, what’s important to remember about the domain overview statistics provided by Semrush is that while the majority of them are based on hard data, the traffic figures are estimates.

And my experience of them is that these estimates are not always 100% accurate — especially where smaller websites are concerned.

This observation is based on some tests I ran, where I compared Semrush traffic estimates against Google Analytics data for websites that I have access to.

While Semrush managed to estimate the traffic levels for sites with 50,000+ organic visits per month reasonably well, its estimates for sites with lower than 5,000 monthly visits were not accurate at all.

To be fair to Semrush though, it doesn’t actually claim that the traffic figures are 100% accurate — if you navigate to its ‘Traffic Analytics’ tab, you can view an estimate of how accurate its traffic stats for a particular site are likely to be (low, medium or high).

Traffic accuracy estimate information in Semrush
Traffic accuracy estimate information in Semrush

Nonetheless, it’s best to treat the traffic stats in Semrush as something that gives you an indication of site popularity. The figures are best used to put your site into context against those of your competitors, or to identify sites that are worth approaching for backlinks.

There are other metrics provided by Semrush’s domain overview tool that also help you gain valuable insights on both your own site and others.

For example, Semrush’s ‘competitive positioning map’ lets you see, at-a-glance, where a particular site fits into a particular market — and how well it fares is against its competitors.

Semrush's 'Competitive Positioning' Map
Semrush’s ‘Competitive Positioning’ Map gives you a simple way to perform competitive analysis

The ability to break things down by country is also helpful — it helps you get a sense of where in the world a site is performing particularly well.

Semrush lets you view domain analysis statistics on a per-country or worldwide level.
Semrush lets you view domain analysis statistics on a per-country or worldwide level.

Getting historical data is particularly straightforward in Semrush’s domain overview section — a simple dropdown menu lets you access snapshots of a domain’s performance in search from specific months and years (data is provided from January 2012 to the present day).

Accessing historical search data in Semrush (this is available from January 2012 until the present day)
Accessing historical search data in Semrush — data is available from January 2012 to the present day

But worth a particular mention is the ‘at-a-glance’ breakdown of the search intent behind the keywords a domain ranks for (see screenshot below).

Keywords by intent report statistics in Semrush
Keywords by intent report statistics in Semrush

Search intent data gives you more context about why people click on search results for a particular website — to research something, locate a specific page, sign up for something, buy something etc.

Many competing tools are yet to provide this easy-to-access ‘search intent’ data — they require you to ‘infer’ search intent yourself (Moz and SE Ranking being notable exceptions).

The only thing I feel is missing from Semrush’s domain overview is a ‘traffic cost’ figure, which lets you know how much it would cost each month to buy ads that generated an equivalent amount of traffic.

(To be fair, you can get this data in Semrush, but you have to go to a separate ‘Organic Research’ page to see it.)

Other tools, including Ahrefs, display this as part of their domain overview analysis — and in the case of Ahrefs, you get to see a global value for the traffic in addition to per-country ones — Semrush just shows you per-country values.

Overall though, the domain overview section of Semrush is very useful, and this aspect of the product on its own gives you a huge insight into how a website is performing from an SEO point of view.

The ‘Semrush Sensor’

In addition to letting you check how an individual website is doing from an SEO point of view, Semrush also provides a tool — ‘Semrush Sensor‘ — for checking how the internet in general is behaving when it comes to search results.

The 'Semrush Sensor' tool
The ‘Semrush Sensor’ tool lets you see a graph of SERP volatility

The Semrush Sensor tracks volatility of Google search results to activity that could indicate an update to Google’s algorithm. This lets you place any fluctuations in your own rankings in a broader context.

Semrush Sensor provides volatility figures globally, or by niche — and you can also set up your own ‘personal sensor’ too. This is based on a set of keywords you’ve entered for position tracking purposes — if there are any major fluctuations in your rankings, the personal sensor will let you know about them.

(The more keywords you track, the more accurate the information provided by this tool will be.)


Keyword research in Semrush

Keyword research is generally about: 

  • establishing how many people are searching for a particular keyword
  • establishing how difficult it is to rank for that keyword
  • finding out who is already ranking for that keyword
  • getting suggestions for other ones.

Semrush gives you a keyword research tool that makes it very easy for you to find out all the above information.

Accessing basic keyword data

To find basic statistics about keywords in Semrush, you simply enter a phrase into its ‘Keyword Overview’ tool.

Semrush's 'keyword overview' tool
Semrush’s ‘keyword overview’ tool

Doing so shows you a wide range of keyword analytics, the key ones being:

  • the number of searches per month for that keyword on Google
  • its ‘keyword difficulty’ score
  • a list of the sites that are ranking for it.
  • suggestions for alternative keywords to target.

As with domain analysis, you can do this on a per country level too, which is helpful.

Getting a keyword overview in Semrush
Getting a keyword overview in Semrush: the dashboard returns keyword ideas in three formats: variations, questions and related keywords.

One of the most important metrics returned here is the keyword difficulty score.

Semrush uses a percentage to indicate this — with a higher percentage indicating that it’s going to be harder to rank for a particular keyword.

As the arrow in the screenshot below shows, Semrush can also give you an indication of the number of backlinks (links from other content to yours) that it will take to rank for your target search phrase.

Semrush keyword difficulty score data
Semrush keyword difficulty score data

In general, this feature works great, but sometimes Semrush doesn’t output the number of links it thinks you need to get a piece of content ranking for your target keyword.

Instead you’ll occasionally get a slightly vague message about needing “lot of on-page SEO, link building, and content promotion efforts” to rank.

Hard keyword score in Semrush
‘Very hard’ keyword score message in Semrush

(This issue usually crops up when ‘very hard’ keyword difficulty scores are returned – see screenshot above for an example of this).

It would be better if, like its competitor Ahrefs, Semrush could be more specific in those contexts instead.

Video guide: how to perform keyword research with Semrush

👉 You can access an extended free trial of Semrush here.

Keyword suggestions

To get detailed keyword suggestions based on a phrase you’ve entered, you’ll need to use Semrush’s ‘Keyword Magic’ tool. This sits under Semrush’s ‘Keyword Research’ menu.

Accessing the 'Keyword Magic' tool
Accessing the ‘Keyword Magic’ tool

This feature provides you with a list of keywords that are related to the phrase you entered, along with filters that you can use to sort them, including:

  • the keyword difficulty
  • the number of searches per month for each keyword
  • the cost per click if you were to use Google Ads to display results for each keyword shown.

A ‘Keyword Magic’ feature I particularly like is the filters it gives you to help surface keywords that are easy to rank for.

You just use a simple dropdown menu — pictured below — to view related keywords by difficulty. These range from ‘very easy’ to ‘very hard,’ and you can also use a custom range of difficulty scores to filter keyword suggestions.

Filtering keywords by difficulty score
Finding relevant keywords using difficulty filters

This makes it easier to spot the keywords that you can realistically rank for in search results.

In addition to the keyword difficulty filter, Semrush gives you a wide range of other ways to segment keyword suggestions — you can filter by the number of searches per month for them, words to exclude and how closely keyword suggestions should match your entered phrase.

(A ‘beta’ filter now lets you filter by language, too.)

Used correctly, these filters really let you hone in on the keywords that are going to work best for your project.

Other keyword filters in Semrush
Other keyword filters in Semrush

Accessing search intent data

Now, a key thing that differentiates Semrush from key several competing SEO tools in the keyword research department is its inclusion of ‘search intent‘ in the data provided.

When you are given a list of keyword suggestions, they are accompanied by little letters — I, N, C or T.

Keyword suggestions accompanied by search intent data
Keyword suggestions accompanied by search intent data

These labels respectively let you know whether a keyword suggestion is informational, navigational, commercial or transactional.

Keyword intent labels in Semrush
Keyword intent labels in Semrush

These are defined by Semrush as follows:

  • Informational = the user wants to find a specific answer to a question
  • Commercial = the user wants to investigate brands or services
  • Navigational = the user wants to find a particular page or website
  • Transactional = the user wants to complete an action (i.e., a purchase or other conversion).

These labels give you much more context about a particular keyword than just search volume alone — and help you make better decisions regarding whether a particular keyword is worth targeting or not.

For example, selecting the ‘transactional’ option on the keyword intent filter drop-down menu lets you focus exclusively on keywords that are more likely to lead to a purchase.

Filtering keywords by transactional intent in Semrush
Using the keyword intent dropdown menu when filtering keyword suggestions in Semrush

So all in all, Semrush’s keyword research tools provide you with all the key information you need to make decisions on which phrases to target as part of an SEO project.

However, there is some scope for improvement, because the keyword research data provided is for Google searches only — it would be better if metrics were available for some other search engines.

Now to be fair, the overwhelming majority of searches continue to be made on Google — nearly 90.8% at time of writing (source: Statcounter).

But there are territories, not least the USA, where other search engines enjoy a decent slice of market share (in the US, for example, around 8% of searches are currently made on Bing).

Competing product Ahrefs gives you access to Bing data, along with data from several other search engines too, including YouTube and Amazon (Moz includes some Bing data for rank tracking purposes too).

A banner advert for Semrush

(Semrush does let you access some data from other search engines, however. You can track how your target keywords are ranking on on Baidu and Bing.)


Keyword lists and topic clustering

Like similar SEO tools, Semrush lets you create lists of keywords that you can use to gather and organize keywords for organic SEO or PPC campaigns.

In Semrush, this is done via its ‘Keyword Strategy Builder’ tool, pictured below — once you create a list, you’ll get to see evolving data about the keywords it contains (search volume, keyword difficulty, search intent etc.).

Semrush’s Keyword Strategy Builder tool

Semrush’s Keyword Strategy Builder tool differs from many competing products’ equivalent feature however, in that it also gives you a ‘topic clustering’ feature. This aims to help you identify phrases or article topics that you should consider writing about in order to gain ‘topical authority‘ for your site.

(Google can reward sites that display signs of exhaustively covering all aspects of a topic with preferential treatment in search results).

Topic clustering in Semrush
Topic clustering in Semrush

When I tested this feature I found myself quite liking it — but I did feel that on occasion the topic clusters and keywords suggested for them didn’t really hit the mark.

It’s definitely useful, but be prepared to do some manual ‘tidy-up’ work on the suggestions produced.


Semrush’s content marketing toolkit

In addition to providing keyword research tools, Semrush also provides you with a suite of ‘content marketing’ tools (so long as you are on a ‘Guru’ plan or higher – more on pricing plans shortly).

These allow you to:

  • identify new topics to write about
  • identify keywords that your competitors are using in their posts
  • assess your content
  • monitor mentions of your brand.

My favorite feature in Semrush’s content marketing toolkit is the ‘SEO Writing Assistant‘ tool. This allows you to copy and paste content into Semrush for review, or import it from the web by entering a URL.

(You can also write copy within Semrush and get real-time advice on it).

Suggestions made by Semrush’s ‘writing assistant’

Once you’ve done that, you’ll get suggestions on ways you can improve its performance in search results. These include encouragements to increase or decrease word count, recommendations that you add certain keywords to your text and warnings if your content looks like it has been scraped from other sites.

(The feature also comes as a WordPress plugin and an add-on for Google Docs and Microsoft Word, which is helpful for those producing content in those platforms.)

Semrush also gives you some AI-powered writing tools as part of its content marketing toolkit — a ChatGPT-style content generation feature can be used to generate copy automatically for you.

However, this limits you to writing between 500 and 2,000 words per month, which won’t be nearly enough for serious content marketing applications.

To get rid of these limits, you can turn to an AI add-on developed by Semrush — ‘ContentShake’ — which provides AI writing features without any caps on word count. This will add to your SEO outgoings however — it comes with a $60-per month price tag.

Now, what about keeping tabs on your existing search rankings?


Rank tracking

‘Rank tracking’ (also known as ‘position tracking’) is the process of monitoring how your website performs in search engines for a particular keyword over time.

It’s easy to set this up in Semrush — you go to its position tracker section, enter a domain name and the target keywords you’d like to track, and you get a report showing you how your site is currently ranking for those keywords. You can also track these phrases on a per-country basis.

As time goes by, and more data about your site flows into Semrush, you’ll be able to monitor the progress of your attempts to rank more highly for your keywords.

You can also enter competitor websites into Semrush’s position tracker tool. This allows you to compare (again, over time) how your competitors are performing when it comes to search rankings.

And finally, you can avail of regular rank tracking email notifications — you can subscribe to weekly position tracking summaries, or create ‘triggers’ that send you an email whenever something significant happens with your rankings.

(For example, you can request a notification of when a particular piece of content has entered or dropped out of the top 3 results for a specified search query.)

Allin all, the position tracking functionality in Semrush is strong — no complaints really here. The only thing to watch out for is limits on the number of keywords you can track: these vary by plan, with the entry-level plan letting you track 500 keywords per month (more on pricing later).


How well a site performs in search results typically depends on how many ‘backlinks‘ — links from other sites to it — exist for the site in question.

There are two main ways to go about looking at backlinks in Semrush: the first is to use its ‘backlink analysis’ feature, and the second is to perform a ‘backlink audit.’

Let’s look at each in turn.

The ‘Backlink Analytics’ section in Semrush lets you enter a domain name and view a list of all the backlinks it can find to it.

Entering a domain into the 'Backlink Analytics' tool in Semrush
Entering a domain into the ‘Backlink Analytics’ tool in Semrush

You can also use this section to view:

All the information is laid out very clearly, and lets you see when a domain has gained or lost backlinks, along with the value of the links in question. You can use the data provided to improve your own SEO efforts — or gain insights into a competitor’s.

A Semrush backlink report
A Semrush backlink report

Now, how accurate Semrush’s backlink analysis is of course heavily dependent on the size and quality of its link database. At time of writing, Semrush claims to have over 43 trillion URLs in its link database, which if accurate compares well with its key competitors Ahrefs (35 trillion) and Moz (40.7 trillion).

Semrush database stats (January 2024)
Semrush database stats (June 2024)

Assuming these figures are correct, this makes the Semrush link database one of the larger ones.

I was curious to see how this played out in some real-world tests however, so I performed some backlink analysis on some well-known sites — domains for the ecommerce platforms and design tools we typically work with — to see how Semrush fared against competitors Ahrefs and Moz when it come to surfacing referring domains.

Below you’ll find the number of referring domains that I found for these sites when testing each of the three tools.

Referring domain test results

WebsiteAhrefsMozSemrush
Amazon2.3m5.2m4.4m
BigCommerce94.6k354.1k444k
Canva288k385.2k519.5k
Ecwid53.2k76.1k67.6k
Godaddy1.6m2.7m2.3m
Jimdo243k3.6k716.2k
Shopify2m3.8m4.2m
Squarespace660k12.6k315k
Webflow123k191k320k
Wix1m928.9k1.5m

As you can see from the table above, in the test, Semrush ‘won’ six of the contests — more than either Ahrefs or Moz.

As this was a relatively small test, I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from the results, but they do suggest that Semrush’s bigger links database can translate into more comprehensive results.

Banner advert for Semrush

The other way to look at backlinks in Semrush is by performing a ‘backlink audit’. The core purpose of doing this is to establish the ‘toxicity’ of backlinks pointing to your site and determine its ‘site health.’

Establishing site health with Semrush using its 'overall toxicity score' report
Establishing site health with Semrush using its ‘overall toxicity score’ report

During a backlink audit, Semrush compiles a list of links that it thinks are spammy, which you can then review, export and upload to Google as a ‘disavow’ file.

This effectively tells Google to ignore these toxic links — and, because Google can penalize sites with lots of poor-quality links pointing to them, disavowing bad links can have a beneficial impact on your search rankings.

(Note however that it’s important to tread very carefully when it comes to disavowing links — read Google’s guidelines on the topic before doing so!).

Semrush’s backlink audit tool is good at spotting poor-quality links and makes it very easy for you to prepare a disavow file for upload to Google.

However, it should be noted that not all SEO professionals think that link spam identification tools are actually that helpful — many believe that a more manual approach to identifying poor-quality links works better.

And in fact, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller is not a fan of the concept of toxic links at all, or using SEO tools to identify them. He has said that it would be rare for link disavowals to lead to a positive impact on search results.

(Mueller has even gone so far as to suggest that webmasters who have never had a manual penalty should consider deleting their disavow file entirely).

Do what you will with that information!

The whole topic of whether or not to disavow links is a controversial topic and an increasingly grey area — but at least with its link toxicity report, Semrush gives you data to act on should you wish to.

A banner advert for Semrush

One of the standout features of Semrush is its link building tool.

As mentioned above, link building — the process of getting other sites linking to yours — is absolutely vital to the success of any SEO project, because search engines typically reward sites with more links pointing to them with higher positions in search results (so long as the links in question are located on high-quality, relevant websites).

Semrush’s link building tool works by:

  • determining who your competitors are and what they’re ranking for
  • examining the content on your site
  • asking you to specify the keywords you want to rank for

and then surfacing a list of ‘prospect’ websites that it thinks is worth approaching for a backlink or guest post opportunity.

Identifying domain prospects in Semrush
Domain prospects in Semrush

Not only that, but it provides you with some extremely useful tools for doing so. You can connect your mailbox to Semrush and send outreach emails from within the tool.

Connecting your mailbox in Semrush
Semrush lets you connect your mailbox and send outreach emails directly within the tool

You can then keep tabs, CRM-style, on the progress of each approach.

Link building outreach in Semrush
The tools provided for link building outreach constitute some of the best features of Semrush

If that wasn’t enough, where possible Semrush even provides you with contact email addresses for each website, and the option to save an outreach email as a reusable template (see screenshot above).

All this goes well beyond anything that’s offered by Semrush’s key competitors in the link-building department — and it’s one of the strongest arguments for using Semrush over them.

Getting an extended free trial of Semrush

The standard free trial of Semrush lasts seven days — however, for a limited time, the company has made an extended trial available that’s double the length of the regular one.

This gives you a much larger window to try out all the product’s key features and access all the data provided by it.

You can access the extended free trial here.


Broken link building can be a very effective SEO tactic.

It involves three steps:

  • finding a broken link (i.e., one that no longer leads anywhere)
  • recreating the ‘dead’ content that it used to point to
  • asking anybody who used to link to the dead content to link to yours instead.

This approach allows you to build up new backlinks to your content — and as mentioned previously, the more (quality) backlinks that point to your website, the better your content is likely to perform in search.

To find broken backlinks with Semrush, you need to run a backlink analytics report, navigate to an ‘indexed pages’ section, click a ‘broken pages’ option and then export the results to an Excel or CSV file. You can then sort or filter this file to identify the 404 errors (i.e., the broken links).

Although not overly complicated, this process could be made a bit more straightforward — Ahrefs, for example, simply lets you hit a easy-to-find ‘broken links’ option (pictured below) and returns a list of all the broken outgoing and incoming links for a specified domain.

Using Ahrefs to access broken link data
Getting at broken link data is a bit easier in Ahrefs

Site auditing

A really useful feature of Semrush is its site auditing functionality.

During a site audit, Semrush will identify issues that might be having a negative effect on your search ranking, including:

  • Slow-loading content
  • Duplicate content
  • SSL problems
  • Crawl errors
  • Core web vitals (Google’s new metrics for assessing site speed and stability)
  • Missing headers
  • Overuse of keywords

It will give then give you an overall ‘site health’ score plus a list of issues to address.

The 'site health score' in Semrush
The ‘site health score’ in Semrush

And in a nice touch, Semrush allows you to export any problems it finds as tasks to the popular project management app Trello (you can also use Zapier to send them to other task management platforms if you prefer).

Sending SEO tasks to Trello
Sending tasks to Trello during an SEO audit

You can also send these tasks to Semrush’s own simple CRM tool, which is built into the platform.

I particularly like Semrush’s on-page SEO checker, which scans your entire website and gives you actionable tips for improvement for each page (in order of priority).

These can include suggestions on:

  • which keywords to add to your content
  • steps you can take to make a page appear as a Google ‘featured snippet’
  • how to improve your body copy and meta descriptions
  • which websites to approach for backlinks
  • length of content
  • internal linking strategies

…and lots more useful SEO ideas.

Another thing that’s great about Semrush’s site auditing features is that it doesn’t just tell you what things to do, it tells you why you should do them.

A ‘Why and how to fix it?’ link accompanies each suggestion, and when clicked, explains in plain English the rationale behind each recommendation.

Example of the sort of contextual help you can expect in Semrush
Example of some contextual help in Semrush

(You can actually learn a lot about SEO simply by reading these tips.)

The site audit feature is superb and, as with Semrush’s link building features, arguably outclasses similar offerings from competing tools.

Finally, it’s important to note that Semrush’s auditing features work irrespective of the CMS you’re using — i.e., it doesn’t matter whether you’ve created your site with Squarespace or WordPress, Wix or Shopify etc.

You’ll get a comprehensive list of tips that you can use to improve your site’s SEO setup, no matter which site builder you’re using.


AI features in Semrush

AI is everywhere these days and you’ll now find it in Semrush too, in the form of its new ‘Copilot’ tool. This feature is intended to save you time by surfacing AI-powered insights at the top of your dashboard.

Copilot draws on data from 6 Semrush tools, namely:

  • Backlink Analytics
  • Organic Research
  • Keyword Gap
  • Backlink Gap
  • Position Tracking
  • Site Audit

Using this data, it then provides you with SEO ideas and suggested actions to take (see screenshot below for some examples of the kind of things it suggested during my tests of the tool).

The Semrush Copilot tool
The Semrush Copilot tool

These recommendations are generated by machine learning algorithms that have been trained on large volumes of Semrush data.

In terms of how helpful all this is, I’d say ‘quite.’ Copilot is not yet a substitute for eyeballing data closely — but it does provide you with a list of really obvious things that you need to fix, and the way that it alerts you to significant drops in keyword rankings is helpful (or, depending on your state of mind, scary!).


Using Semrush to track Google ‘AI Overviews’

Google AI Overviews are generated snippets or summaries that appear at the top of search results, designed to provide users with quick and concise information based on their queries. These overviews use advanced AI algorithms to pull relevant content from various sources, delivering immediate answers to searchers without them needing to click through multiple links.

Semrush’s Position Tracking tool helps users monitor their website’s visibility within these AI Overviews. By targeting specific websites and keywords, users can track and optimize their content to improve its chances of being featured in these summaries.

Additionally, Semrush’s ‘Sensor’ tool tracks the frequency and industry presence of AI Overviews within the top 20 search results. This allows users to analyze trends and adjust their SEO strategies to better align with content that is likely to be featured in AI Overviews.

'AI Overview' data in Semrush's position tracking report
‘AI Overview’ data in Semrush’s position tracking report

Interface and ease-of-use

The Semrush interface is similar to those of competing products like Moz and Ahrefs — as with these tools, you get a menu of options on the left that you use to access functionality on the right.

The Semrush interface
The Semrush interface

The menu options are grouped together in useful categories — competitive research, keyword research, link building, rank tracking, on-page SEO and reporting.

The Semrush navigation menu
The Semrush navigation menu

There is a lot of data to contend with — this may feel overwhelming at first, but you soon get used to it (and the whole point of tools like Semrush is, of course, to provide you with a lot of data!).

Additionally, the data visualization that Semrush provides helps you get over this sense of overload — most of the metrics provided are graphed in ways that make the information presented much easier to understand.

Examples of data visualization in Semrush
Examples of data visualization in Semrush

It would be nice however if Semrush’s interface could be made to work better with smartphones — as things stand, it’s not fully ‘responsive,’ so if you log into Semrush on a mobile device, you see the standard desktop interface. This means that you’re dealing with very small text and a lot of pinching and zooming.

Using Semrush on a smartphone
Using Semrush on a smartphone requires a lot of pinching and zooming.

On the plus side, there is a mobile app available from Semrush that lets you access your position tracking data on mobile devices. It would be better however if it gave you access to some of the other key Semrush features too.

(As for the user reaction to the position tracking app, it scores just 2.7 out of 5 on the Google Play store and 2.6 on the iOS one— so its users clearly think there’s a bit of room for improvement to it too).

Semrush's mobile app for rank tracking.
Semrush’s position tracking tool is available as a mobile app, but it would be good to be able to access more Semrush functionality on a smartphone.

Overall, Semrush’s interface is laid out in an intuitive fashion and is straightforward to ƒuse — but you will need to be using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device to get the most out of it.


Pricing and value for money

Compared to other types of ‘SaaS’ (software as a service) apps, SEO tools like Semrush are expensive.

That’s understandable however, as you’re not just paying for functionality, you’re paying for access to really large quantities of data, including a lot of competitor intelligence.

Advert (Semrush)

Semrush offers three main pricing plans:

  • Pro: $139.95 per month
  • Guru: $249.95 per month
  • Business: $499.95 per month

(Discounts of up to 17% for the above are available if you pay upfront for a year — the equivalent monthly costs become $117.33, $208.33 and $416.66 for the above three plans respectively.)

Semrush pricing plans in 2024
Semrush pricing

For larger organizations, Semrush also provides an enterprise-grade plan — ‘Semrush Enterprise’ — which offers automated workflows, AI-driven data analysis, and access to top SEO consultants and freelancers. It also includes features such as integrated data lakes, automated SEO tasks, and AI-powered analysis tools.

To get a pricingquote for Semrush Enterprise, you need to contact Semrush’s sales team to discuss your requirements.

Semrush Enterprise

Additionally, there’s also a ‘Custom’ version of the platform to consider — this lets enterprise-level customers create their own bespoke plans (with more generous limits on reports and queries, more user accounts etc.).

The Semrush custom plan
The Semrush custom plan

It’s important to note that if you want to check Semrush out before committing to a paid-for plan, a free trial is available.

The standard version lasts 7 days, but for a limited time the company has made a double-length free trial available — you can access this extended free trial here.

You have to enter your credit card details to avail of the fully-featured trial, which — while common enough practice where a lot of SEO tools are concerned — is a bit annoying.

But on the plus side, the cancellation policy is pretty straightforward — you can cancel your trial at any point, and you’ll get a full refund if you cancel a paid-for plan within 7 days of starting it.

👉 You can get access to an extended free trial of Semrush here.

If you don’t enter your card details, you can still use many of the Semrush features — but you will be limited to just 10 queries per day.

Semrush’s fees are broadly comparable to those charged by key competitors Moz, Ahrefs and Majestic (that said, Majestic offers a lower monthly plan for $49.99 per month, but it is considerably less functional than the entry level plans provided by its competitors).

The main differences between the Semrush plans involve:

  • the number of reports you can run per day
  • the number of keywords you can track per month
  • access to content marketing tools
  • access to historical data.

The more you pay, the more you get of all the above.

Let’s zoom in on a few aspects of the pricing structure to highlight where Semrush offers particularly good — or bad — value for money.

Seats

Probably the worst thing about Semrush’s pricing structure is that all plans — even the $499.95 ‘Business’ plan — only include one user account or ‘seat.’

If you want more than one person in your organization to have access to Semrush, you’ll need to pay between $45 and $100 extra per user, per month, depending on plan.

This compares negatively with the approach taken by many of Semrush’s competitors, which generally increase the seat count as you go up the pricing ladder (or charge less for extra seats).

If seat count is an issue for your organisation, you may need to investigate purchasing a ‘Custom’ plan from Semrush — as its name suggests, this allows you to negotiate pricing for a solution involving a custom number of features and users.

Projects

It’s important to be aware that quite a few Semrush features can only be used on domains that have been added as ‘projects.’

Key features that fall into this category include site audits, backlink audits, link prospect identification, on-page SEO checking and rank tracking.

How many projects you can have on the go depends on the Semrush plan you’re on — the entry level plan, at $139.95 per month, facilitates 5; the ‘Guru’ plan 15 and the ‘Business’ plan 40.

These limits won’t necessarily be a showstopper for every business — if you’re only interested in running SEO campaigns for your own website, they’ll usually work out fine.

However, if you have a lot of sites that you need to manage SEO for — or do a large amount of competitor analysis — it is something to be aware of.

Report requests

Semrush is very generous when it comes to the number of reporting requests you can make each day: even on its entry-level plan, you can pull 3,000 domain analysis reports per day — this significantly outnumbers the 500 reports you can run per month on the Ahrefs entry level plan, for example.

This comparative generosity continues as you go up the pricing ladder — for example, the Semrush limit for reports on its $499.95 plan is 10,000 per day, while the equivalent Ahrefs limit is 1,000 per month.

Competitive intelligence tools and add-ons

There are quite a few Semrush features for analysing competitors’ websites that are not available without purchasing a ‘Semrush.Trends’ add-on.

When you buy this you get access to:

  • Market Explorer – data on market players, market shares, audience age, gender and behavior, seasonal peaks, etc.
  • Traffic analytics – visitor engagement, traffic sources, desktop and mobile, audience overlap, historical data, geographical information
  • ‘EyeOn’ – a tool for monitoring when your competitors publish new content or start advertising campaigns.
  • One2Target — a tool for comparing the audience demographics for competing websites.

Rather disappointingly, this add-on costs $289 per month per user (regardless of plan type).

Now to be fair, most of the above metrics could be considered worthy of paying a bit extra for — but nearly $300 extra per month feels rather expensive.

(In fact, if you’re on the entry-level Semrush Pro plan, the add-on works out more expensive than your actual plan!).

Additionally, if you want to access local SEO features, you’ll also have to pay extra.

There are two local SEO add-ons available: ‘Basic,’ which costs $20 per month, and ‘Premium’, which costs $40 per month.

Both give you the ability to:

  • distribute business information to directories
  • suppress duplicate listings
  • track local rankings
  • manage Google Business and Facebook listings
  • monitor reviews and user suggestions

The premium version also gives you access to a ‘local heatmap,’ which lets you see how your customers can find your business on Google Maps (and compare the visibility of your business on Google Maps to that of your competitors).

It also provides a feature that lets you respond to reviews directly within the Semrush interface (with AI being used to suggest wording for your responses).

Semrush's local SEO add-on
Semrush’s local SEO add-on

Recently, Semrush added a new content analysis add-on to their collection: ‘ImpactHero.’ This is described by the company as an ‘AI tool that breaks down your content by buyer journey stages, detects the most impactful copy, and gives tips on reinforcing your efforts.’

In practice, ‘ImpactHero’ seems quite similar to Google Analytics — my feeling is that if you’re already using Google Analytics in a smart way (using events and goals etc.), you might not necessarily need this add-on, which costs a significant $200 per month.

There’s also ‘Semrush Social‘ which lets you manage your social media accounts (content posting, replies etc.) from your Semrush account, and analyze competitor activity on social media. This costs $29.99 per user, per month.

And finally there’s the ‘Agency Growth Kit‘ add-on to consider — this is aimed at digital marketing agencies that want to ‘white label’ Semrush data for their SEO clients.

The add-on comes in three flavors: ‘Start,’ ‘Scale’ and ‘Advanced’ which are priced at $69, $149 and $249 per month respectively.

Both versions let you produce custom PDFs reports that have no Semrush branding on them; list your business in the ‘Agency Partners’ directory of Semrush certified agencies (probably the most useful aspect of the add-on); use a lead finder tool and access CRM tools.

The ‘Scale’ version lets you take advantage of enhanced visibility on the ‘Agency Partners’ directory; it also gives you unlimited use of Semrush’s CRM features and access to more leads.

The ‘Advanced’ version lets you create an unlimited number of client portals (with these being accessible using your own domain name).

The Semrush ‘App Center’

In addition to purchasing one of the the main Semrush add-ons discussed above, you can also add functionality to your Semrush account by investing in a third-party app from the Semrush ‘App Center.’

This is something of a unique feature for Semrush — competitors like Ahrefs and Moz, while letting you make use of their APIs, don’t provide similar app stores.

The Semrush app center
The Semrush app center

38 third-party apps are currently available from the Semrush App Center; these have a focus on providing enhanced analytics and data, and they typically range in cost from $10 to $169 per month.

Key apps in here include Influencer Analytics, an app that’s designed to make finding influencer partners for your site easier, and AdClarity, which gives you a holistic view of your competitors’ advertising activity across multiple advertising channels (display, social, video etc.)

Free trials or cut-down free plans are available for most apps in the app center, along with some entirely free apps (examples of the latter include apps for improving the accessibility of your website, a Google Ads assistant and a local listings health check app).

PPC data

If you’re working on a mix of SEO and PPC projects, you may find that Semrush represents better value than some of its competitors.

Conducting advertising research in Semrush
Advertising research features in Semrush

This is simply because by comparison to its competitors, the PPC data provided by Semrush is pretty exhaustive.

While other tools tend to give you basic CPC figures for individual keywords, Semrush goes way beyond this, giving you detailed CPC competition and distribution data, live ads and ad history. You also get access to some PPC campaign planning tools.

Conducting advertising research in Semrush
Conducting advertising research in Semrush

Customer support

SEO tools like Semrush tend to be quite complex in nature, so the availability and format of customer support is a key consideration for prospective users.

The good news is that you get 3 channels of customer support with Semrush: phone, email and chat. This contrasts positively with competing products, not all of whom offer phone support (Moz and Majestic don’t even offer live chat support).

And, unlike some other SaaS products, Semrush makes its contact details easy enough to spot — a help chatbox is visible at the corner of each page, and it displays the wait time you’re likely to experience before being connected to an agent.

The Semrush live chat option
The Semrush live chat option is easily accessible on all pages

Additionally, phone numbers are relatively easy to find — to call Semrush, you go to their ‘contact us’ section and then click a ‘call regional support’ link (this could be slightly more prominent, however).

Accessing phone support in Semrush
Accessing phone support in Semrush

Semrush review: the overall verdict

Overall, Semrush is an excellent SEO tool that gives you all the key data you’ll need for a successful SEO project. Its standout features are its link building and site auditing tools — the former gives you an excellent ‘CRM’ style method of building backlinks and the latter gives you a super-easy checklist of ways to improve your technical and on-page SEO.

Also worth a particular mention is Semrush’s ‘search intent’ feature — this helps you identify the target keywords that are most likely to generate sales and conversions, and focus on creating content for them.

But what are the main disadvantages of Semrush? Well, the only search engine Semrush provides data for is Google, all accounts only come with one user account (‘seat’) and several key features can only be used as part of a ‘project’ (with limits applying to the number of projects you can run concurrently).

It’s also a bit disappointing that some of the competitive intelligence features can only be unlocked via a rather expensive $289 per month add-on.

But overall, Semrush is a great SEO solution that provides you with the key information you’ll need to improve your Google rankings. As with all the products we review though, we recommend that you try the tool out extensively yourself before purchasing — an extended free trial is available here.

To finish up, below you’ll find a summary of the key pros and cons of using Semrush, and some information about alternative SEO products.

And of course if you have any questions or feedback on the platform, please do leave them in the comments section at the end of this post.


Semrush pros and cons summary

Reasons I think you should use Semrush

  • By comparison to its competitors — especially Ahrefs — Semrush is extremely generous when it comes to the number of reports you can pull in one day.
  • The learning curve is relatively gentle.
  • Although it provides a large quantity of data, Semrush’s interface is laid out in a logical fashion. Graphs and data visualizations make it easy to understand the metrics provided.
  • The keyword intent data is great for helping you focus on the phrases that are likely to be most relevant and profitable for your business.
  • Semrush’s link building functionality, which features CRM-style features to help you with link outreach, is superb.
  • Its site auditing features are comprehensive.
  • In addition to organic search data and keyword ideas, Semrush provides you with extensive PPC data too.
  • Semrush support is available via three channels — phone, chat and email. This is a more comprehensive customer service offering than that provided by competitors Ahrefs and Moz.
  • A range of third-party apps is available to enhance the standard Semrush feature set — key competing products don’t provide access to similar partner apps.
  • So long as you know where to find it, a 14-day free trial is available (some competing tools don’t provide free trials at all, or restrict their length quite tightly).

👉 You can access an extended free trial of Semrush here.

Reasons I think you should avoid Semrush

  • Semrush only provides data for one search engine, Google. Some competing tools, notably Ahrefs, provide data from quite a few others.
  • All Semrush plans only come with one user account — and buying additional seats is pretty expensive.
  • Some key features are only available as part of ‘projects’ — and Semrush limits the number of projects you can run concurrently.
  • The competitor research and online marketing add-ons are quite expensive.
  • It’s not quite as easy to carry out broken link building in Semrush as it should be.
  • The word count limits on the AI copywriting feature are not generous and render the feature fairly useless for serious SEO applications.
  • The free trial, while generous in length, requires that you enter your credit card details before you can access it.
  • It’s hard to use Semrush on a mobile device (and, based on user reviews, its mobile position tracking app needs improvement).
  • While Semrush’s ‘topic clustering’ tool is helpful, sometimes it suggests topics and keywords that are a bit off target.

👉 Learn more about the Semrush free trial here.

Our overall rating

4.5 out of 5 | ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Alternatives to Semrush

The main competitors to Semrush are probably Ahrefs, Moz, SE Ranking, Similarweb, Spyfu and Majestic.

We have review and comparisons for some of these available — just follow the links below to access them:

From my previous use of Ahrefs and Moz, I’d argue that what differentiates Semrush most from these two competing products is the generous reporting limits — Semrush gives you access to a huge number of reports per day by comparison to the above two competitors.

The ‘CRM-style’ approach that it brings to link building campaigns is another key advantage of using Semrush over Ahrefs and Moz, as is its ‘keyword intent’ feature.

Key competing products can be more generous when it comes to user accounts however — if you have a lot of users in your organization who need to access an SEO tool, you may find one of the alternatives end up being a more cost-effective option for you.

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