Optimize Your Keyword Research and Rankings with SEMRush


How to: Keyword Research with SEM Rush

When was the last time you or a member of your team looked at the terms your website and competitors were ranking for in Google? If you can’t remember, then it’s probably time to check out an amazing tool.

Let me introduce you to SEMRush, an SEO’s oasis in the desert. This popular software suite helps marketers discover important data points essential for competitive analysis and KPI measurement … especially when it counts the most.

What is SEMRush?

Submit any website through this helpful online tool to discover keywords a site ranks for. Keywords that have search volume and are ranking in the top 100 or so positions will be shown in SEMRush. While some keywords will be missing from the report, the tool focuses on showing you important keywords that users actually search (that is, those with search volume).

Look up your own site or a competitor’s. Literally any site on the web can be input – including international domains. Compare your site to another domain’s keywords, view the history of keyword performances, discover related keywords, look up Adwords performances, find shared keywords with a competing domain … and so much more!

In this article we’ll discuss how to use this helpful tool for Keyword Research and give you a chance to try it out.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword Research is the SEO process of analyzing search engine keywords, specifically those that prospects use to find new websites. Keyword Research entails competitive analysis to discover new and important keywords that drive traffic and leads, scrutiny of existing keywords your site is ranking for, and prioritization of those keywords for the biggest revenue impact.

Thorough Keyword Research requires reviewing several data points, all sourced to discover the best and most profitable keywords. Whether your business is online and selling products or offline and selling services, a website is an amazing tool to attract new customers. Keyword Research helps you make the most of your website, and it’s usually one of the first steps in optimizing your website for search engines (SEO).

By analyzing the keywords that your prospective customers use to find sites like yours, you’re better able to provide those customers with the content and landing pages they’re looking for.

For more information on Keyword Research, be sure to read our articles, Semantic Search: Keyword Choices & Relevancy and A Keyword Primer: Finding and Using Keywords Effectively.

Getting Started with SEMRush 

The SEMRush platform is a paid tool, providing a number of subscriptions and options for your business. Portions of the tool are free to use, but the majority of options require a subscription. You can choose one of three plans that give you access to varying amounts of data, from $99 to $199 to $399 per month, as of 2017. Find the plan that works best for your budget and needs. You should also consider the annual plans, which have significant savings over monthly plans.

With SEMRush you can run reports, download valuable information, get access to beta tools, and a lot more ― the features available are quite extensive. Check them out here.

Can SEMRush replace a few tools you’re already using? Possibly! Take a look at the features set and see if you can reduce your dependence on one tool and replace it with SEMRush. And, the system isn’t a one-time only tool; it’s multi-faceted to provide you with constant support in your digital marketing efforts.

Start Your Keyword Research

The first step in starting your keyword research with SEMRush is to insert a domain, keyword, or URL into the search box. Depending on the input, the system will automatically direct you to the Domain Overview, Keyword Overview, or URL Overview reports.

Domain Overview

Organic research is usually performed in the Domain Overview section. Look at the history of keyword performance in search engines, along with rankings, competitive scores, CPC data, and trend data, too. If you’re not sure about a report or section, look for the “Tutorial” or “Video Tutorial” button near the top of the screen; SEMRush provides video and text relating to the screen you’re viewing. This intuitive tool arms you with information to help you learn about the system.

Each screen has the ability to export the table views that you see. Download reports in CSV or Excel format for easy manipulation of data and sorting. The reports in this section will help you answer the following questions:

  • What keywords does your site rank for already?
  • How are your keywords performing currently?
  • What keywords need help with their performance?
  • What irrelevant keywords does the site rank for?
  • What appears to be missing from the set of keywords ranking?

The Top Organic Keywords report is a live update of keywords which your domain ranks for, and includes information such as the position, volume, CPC (cost per click), and estimated traffic. Export this list, available in both CSV and Excel format, for easy storing and analysis.

A full report is available for paid users, which gives variations of each keyword with the potential of driving traffic to a website.

The Domain Overview section also gives you the ability to compare your domain with up to four other domains. You’ll see a wide range of helpful information such as: shared keywords, comparison of keywords, comparison of keyword rankings, and missed opportunities ― things your competitors are taking advantage of that you might be overlooking.

Shared keywords can be shown in the graph above or in a chart format, as below. This Venn Diagram shows shared keywords in a different way, helping to visualize the “blue ocean” of available keywords you don’t share with a competitor. A visual such as this gives you a representation of a good opportunity to go after new keywords to compete better with the ones you share with a competitor.

Keyword Overview

Keyword overview information gives a bit more detail about the specific keywords and types of keywords your site is ranking for. The phrase match report shows you keywords and phrases that correspond with the direct keyword queries you’ve entered, providing you with a wide variety of related terms. The report expands even further by generating a broad list of suggested keywords for new discovery.

A report like this can help you answer the following questions:

  • Which keywords that are directly related to my existing keyword rankings should I be ranking for?
  • Which keywords match the phrases I’m already ranking for?
  • How difficult are the keywords I want to rank for?

Domain and Competitor Keyword Analysis 

Another avenue to examine new keywords is to compare your website with your competitors’ sites. By conducting research on your competitors, you’re able to figure out how to match their success, but also focus your efforts on expanded keywords they aren’t ranking for.

First, you’ll want to understand how your domain stacks up. The Domain Overview in SEMRush provides an excellent view of this. Organic search traffic figures are shown, along with paid search figures and the number of backlinks.

Notice the Tutorial button near the top of each page? Press this button, and SEMRush will provide you with detailed information about the tool, including a video or text and additional resources.

Organic Search: “SEMRush Rank” gives the ranking of your site is compared to others tracked in SEMRush; “keywords” are the number of keywords your domain is ranking for (which have volume); and “traffic cost” is the estimated price of organic keywords in Google Adwords.

Paid Search: In this, “keywords” are the number of keywords showing in paid search (Adwords), and “traffic cost” is the overall price of paid keywords in Google Adwords.

Backlinks: Here, “referring domains” are the number of domains linking to your website, and “referring IPs” are the number of IP addresses from which backlinks reside, representing a truer number of “unique links” to your website.

Test New Tools

SEMRush describes the Keyword Magic Tool as “an easy to use keyword research tool that provides all the keywords you need to build your most profitable SEO and PPC campaign.” Still in beta mode, the tool is only available to paid users. The total volume, difficulty, CPC, competition, and link to the SERP (search engine results page) are in the report this tool provides.


SEMRush is an amazing tool that shares a plethora of information about your domain, as well as about your competitors’ domains. Armed with the right information, you’ll be able to use it effectively for keyword research. Don’t neglect this incredibly important part of digital marketing. Check out SEMRush and see how you can update the keywords that are crucial to your brand today!