SEMRush hacks: achieve your objectives with 8 tools

Alex Minchin
Alex Minchin

So you might have taken the plunge with SEMrush Business or perhaps you’re still wondering whether or not the additional cost is worth it.
We have recently upgraded our account and with this we have opened up a wide array of features and opportunities for our clients. I’m not here to sell SEMrush to you, I’m just here to give our account on what we think about it and how the features have aided us in achieving our clients’ objectives, whether that is traffic, conversions, or engagement.

If you have the free version already, you’ll know about the domain and keyword analytics tools, although you’ll only have a snippet of that information. The Business features offer so much more, including all of the following:

Site audit

This tool will crawl your website and identify any high priority errors, medium priority warnings, and low priority notices. The dashboard of this feature makes it so much easier to use than similar tools I have used in the past. It allows you to easily and quickly see all the errors on a page, enabling you to fix issues much more efficiently.

For example, if you pulled a crawl on Screaming Frog you’d see — 404 errors and — missing meta descriptions. You then might pull this through to a spreadsheet and spend time filtering through the relevant data and prioritising what needs to be fixed. With SEMrush Business this tedious task is already done for you. Simply go to the Crawled Pages tab and you will see all the errors by page. You can then get cracking fixing the pages that are of the highest importance to you.

It’s easy to get lost in the site audit features, especially if your site has a lot of issues, so it’s vital to prioritise the errors that are really going to influence your objectives. Let’s say your goal is to increase traffic to your website. You’ll want to try and fix the issues that have the biggest influence on rankings e.g. duplicate content, duplicate page titles, missing meta descriptions, missing alt image text, and more. However, if you want to improve customer engagement and interaction, you will want to look at broken images, 404 errors, and low word count, for example.

Zest Tip: If you have several pages of products, stop SEMrush crawling /clothes?page=1, /clothes?page=2 and so on by selecting the cog on the top right and select “URL parameters”.

SemRush Business url parameters

Position tracking

There are many tools out there that help with position tracking and even with SEMrush Business I’d recommend using other tools to ensure you are getting the results you expected. We use a combination of Moz and SEMrush to monitor rankings and for me personally there are some features I prefer on each.

SEMrush is better at comparing your rankings to competitors and it’s pretty nice when you get to see you’ve overtaken your competitor for a particular keyword you have been working on. When you land on position tracking and have entered the relevant details, you will see a graph appear that will show you the visibility trend, estimated traffic, and average position.

If your objective is to improve traffic through increased rankings then I would definitely take full advantage of the note feature. Similar to adding tags on Google Analytics, you can also add notes to your search visibility graph. If you have amended metadata or realigned copy to a keyword then add a note of when the changes were made and then you can see whether the changes have led to an improvement or not. SEO is all about testing and measuring and this feature enables you to keep on-top of this.

Zest Tip: Use the notification setting to alert you to drops or increases in rankings. This cool benefit means that you are always on top of your rankings and means you can notify your manager or client of any improvements. For example, for Zest we might want to know when we enter the top 3 for ‘digital marketing agency Oxford’ and we can be alerted immediately if we do.


SEO ideas

As a digital marketing executive it is a part of my role to come up with effective ideas for SEO and other areas. This feature helps me do this by looking at all areas of SEO including backlinks, keyword positioning, and technical issues. It takes into account an array of data available, not just from its own crawl but also from Google Analytics and Search Console, if these are synced.

The SEO template for new content is one of my favourite feature of this tool as it provides me with ideas on how I can improve a page’s content and metadata and find backlinks for that keyword.

Here is an example of how we used it for Zest:


You should take the suggestions given with a pinch of salt. These are ideas based on the information you have inputted and the results crawled and have not taken into account the wider picture.

For example, SEMrush identified 4 new keywords that we should consider targeting for the Zest homepage. However, in our initial keyword research we had already dismissed these keywords for a variety of reasons e.g. search volume too low, keyword too broad, or competition too high.

Combining this tool with common sense, experience, and knowledge of SEO makes sure you’re getting the most from it.

Zest Tip: Link to your Google Analytics and Search Console to get even more valuable and relevant insights.

Backlink audit

Backlinks are a crucial part of SEO and can have great implications for rankings. If you get backlinks from websites that have strong domain authority and are relevant to the article’s topic then this in turn will help your domain authority and ranking power.

This tool is still in the testing stages but there are already clear signs that this will be a powerful feature. As part of the Penguin update, Google cracked down on spammy backlinks by penalising websites that were found to have these. Luckily this update didn’t have an impact on the vast majority of our clients as we always follow best practice. However, the chances are there will still be a few spammy links to your website and acting on these quickly is important. This tool identifies “toxic” links and these should be removed.

Equally, if you want to find missed opportunities then this tool also helps with this as you can identify broken links and therefore can try to fix these by contacting the source. This makes it a strong tool for managing your backlinks and segmenting these into links worth removing and links worth improving.

Personally I much prefer Moz’s link tool. Why? Moz allows you to look at competitors’ links and identify where they have broken links and this is a really handy – albeit cheeky – way to steal links directly from your competitors. SEMrush doesn’t yet offer this feature, which seems odd to me considering that their position tracking focuses so heavily on competitors, but it is in the testing phase so who knows – maybe it will come!

Zest Tip: This feature does allow for easy organisation as you can easily move, review, and download backlinks to a disavow list. This can then easily be uploaded to the Google Disavow tool.


Organic traffic insights

This valuable feature could save you hours every week hopping between Google Analytics and SEMrush, although fundamentally you’ll still need both sets of data. This tool doesn’t go into half as much detail as Google Analytics but it is useful to get a quick overview of how your website is performing in terms of organic traffic.

The one (massive) advantage this feature boasts over Google Analytics is that you can combine the organic traffic metrics with the keyword metrics. This is incredibly valuable when reviewing if the keyword you’re targeting is performing effectively. For example, on one of our blogs posts called ‘The Best Hashtags To Use On Instagram’, the keyword this is currently aligned to is only in position 32 and unsurprisingly getting 0% of traffic share. However, if we realigned this to a new keyword focus that was less competitive and easier to rank for then we would expect the traffic share to increase.


I find this feature invaluable as, to get these insights previously, I had to pull data from Search Console, Moz, and Google Analytics. Now this is all under one simple dashboard. If you want to learn more about how users interact with your content, where they exit your site, how long they read your article for, and whether or not they convert, you should still nip back to Google Analytics.

Zest Tip: If you set up the notification settings within position tracking (see position tracking tip above) and your hard work pays off with a top-three ranking, then go into organic traffic insights and see how your traffic share has improved because of this. Now you can go to your manager and say “we’re ranking in position 3 for this keyword and can see a — increase in traffic share, meaning — more organic sessions compared to — last week”.

Social media

If you use social media as part of your marketing strategy then you will probably find this feature useful. Similar to position tracking, it has an emphasis on competitor tracking, enabling you to see how well your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram campaign is doing against your competition. Measure your reactions, shares, and comments, or for Twitter your likes, retweets and mentions, and easily identify which post your users engage with the best.


Zest Tip: If you used a specific hashtag for your campaign, for example for BrightonSEO, you might use #BrightonSEO. You can filter the results of these on Twitter and this will help you only see the information that is relevant to you.

Brand monitoring

This tool enables you to keep on-top of any negative or positive mentions on social media about your company/product/service.

Take Samsung’s recent crisis with their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the issues with their exploding batteries. If they had used this tool, they would have been able to search for the keyword ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7’ and pull up a list of all the users that have mentioned issues. This could then have been fed to their customer service/social media department, who could have helped respond to these complaints and kept customers updated with how they can get a replacement/refund. When a major issue such as that happens, it is important to act fast and this feature enables you to do this.

One feature that I think is really good about this tool is the campaign comparison section. If you are a big company, the chances are you will have a variety of campaigns running throughout the year. When a campaign has come to an end you would look at how it could have been improved further, when were the best times to post, what was the most engaging post, etc and because of this you would expect to see an improvement on your next campaign. This tool allows you to compare how many mentions you received for a campaign that finished one month ago with one that ran six months ago.

Zest Tip: Within this feature you can select whether the mention is negative, neutral, or positive and you can put these into different plans of action. For example, if you want to retweet the positive ones but reply to the negative ones then this data can be easily segmented.


PPC keyword tool

Arguably one of the most powerful features on SEMrush, I’ve saved the best for last.

If you combine the PPC Keyword tool with the Ads History tool, you can really begin to take advantage of SEMrush’s insights. This feature doesn’t replace Adwords, but if you want to know how well your keywords are doing quickly, without having to flick through tabs, then it’s definitely worth setting up. I’m not the PPC expert at Zest – that title belongs firmly to Hugh – but in my opinion I much prefer the dashboard on SEMrush compared to Adwords. It’s clearer for me to use and it’s easy to remove duplicates and add negative keywords. From my experience with this feature, it’s a good planning tool before actioning changes on Adwords.

Whilst the PPC Keyword Tool is relatively useful, it’s the Ads History that really interests me. Simply type in the keyword you want to target for your campaign – in our example we looked at football boots. SEMrush will pull a list of competitors bidding for that keyword, how much they are spending in total, how much traffic, and how many keywords they are going for. You can also see how often competitors post ads for the keyword and what their adverts say. This is great if you need inspiration for writing your text ads and want to see what has been working well for competitors.

For example, for ‘nike air max’, you can see how Nike’s text ads have changed over the course of the year. This can be used as inspiration for when you come to write your own text ads but also it shows what benefits competitors are showcasing and what you might want to highlight in your own ads.


Zest Tip: Use the tutorial button on the top right of the screen to find out what else you can do with Ads History.


Hopefully this article has helped you understand a bit more on how to use SEMrush Business and how it can help you achieve your objectives. I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about it and if you have any other key tips.

To get a competitive edge on your competitors when it comes to your digital marketing needs, get in touch today by calling 01865 684 999 or contacting us online.

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