13 ways a professional agency uses Semrush

20 mins read

LAST UPDATED 12th June 2024

PUBLISHED 22nd May 2021

How a professional Manchester SEO agency uses SEMrush

Managing your website can be a difficult task to do, as maintaining good health for your site requires a significant amount of time and effort. Discovering what problems there are is a task in itself, however, if you use SEMrush this will run an audit on your site and uncover problems that might be lurking unnoticed.

SEMrush is an online visibility management system that offers many solutions for SEO, PPC plus much more. The site has built-up a tremendous reputation over the years and it’s trusted by countless marketers across the globe.

Keyword Research

Whether you’re just starting out on your SEO journey or are looking to improve your efforts, you won’t get very far without knowing exactly what keywords you need to target. You want to make sure that your content is focused around the topics and keywords that will not only get your website ranking in Google, but are tailored towards what people are actually searching for in order to drive organic traffic

Whilst keyword research may seem like a daunting and time consuming process, it can be made much easier when you have the right tools for the job.

SEMrush’s keyword research tool is one of the most popular amongst marketers, and for good reason. Once you know your way around it, it’s super user-friendly and offers a vast amount of features that can help you on your way.

There are three main keyword research features in SEMrush:

  • Keyword Overview
  • Keyword Magic Tool
  • Keyword Gap

Keyword Overview

SEMrush keyword overview

The Keyword Overview tool lets you analyse any given keyword, uncovering important metrics such as search volume, trends in search volume and keyword difficulty.

You can enter anywhere from 1-100 keywords, and SEMrush will perform an immediate analysis of their performance. It’s a great tool which gives unparalleled insight into how difficult it may be to rank for that particular search term, and whether or not it will be worth your efforts.

The tool provides you with a list of pages that are ranking highly for that particular keyword, giving you the chance to do a little competitor research and analyse the highest rankers in your industry, so you can see what they’re doing well and what it would take to knock them off the top spot.

Leaving no stone unturned, the Keyword Overview tool also offers a list of keyword variations. As keywords and search trends are changing all the time, this section can be super helpful in uncovering new potential opportunities or identifying any missing gaps in your SEO.

Keyword Magic Tool

The SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool is every content creator’s dream. It’s a goldmine of keyword opportunities which provides you with an extensive list of search terms related to your topic.

The semrush keyword magic tool being used by a Manchester SEO agency

To use it, simply enter your top-level keyword, such as “SEO” and you will be presented with a list of search terms that are related to or include that topic, alongside the search volumes for each. The keyword results are grouped based on the popularity of the terms associated with them, so you can really drill down into the potential content opportunities of each one that is relevant to your business.

It’s undoubtedly one of SEMrush’s best keyword research assets, and certainly a good one to keep in your toolbox for those times when you feel like you’ve exhausted all possible ideas for blog or page content.

Keyword Gap

Ever wondered what search terms your competitors are ranking for? SEMrush’s Keyword Gap tool allows you to compare your website against those of your competitors, and highlights the differences between their top performing keywords and yours.

The semrush keyword gap tool being used by a Manchester SEO agency

You can input the websites of up to three competitors for a bulk analysis to help you visualise where you’re being outperformed in the rankings, and who by. It highlights top keyword opportunities for your website, including areas in which you’re weak against your competition and strong keywords which you may be completely missing the mark on.

It offers a great opportunity to uncover new keywords that you should be targeting, if not to surpass your competitors, then certainly to make sure you’re covering all bases. If you’re looking to up your SEO efforts and give your competitors a run for their money, this is the tool for you.

Tracking Keywords

Tracking keywords is SEMrush’s bread and butter, and is one of the core tools most commonly used by professional SEO agencies. The keyword overview, magic and gap tools are all excellent ways of finding new keywords and comparing them to your competitors, but in the long game that is SEO you should be paying attention to how they compare to themselves.

As search engine optimisation is the process of steadily building keyword rankings over time, it is important to see the effects your work is having. SEMrush’s keyword tracking tools allow you to see each keyword’s current position and compare it to a previous moment in time of your choosing.

Whether you need to see the position change within the last month, or since the start of the campaign, SEMrush allows you to see the data you need with ease.

Tracking keywords doesn’t end there however. While the core of the tool is comparing positions over a given time SEMrush also gives you the ability to apply tags and filters, to assess grouped keywords by themselves and even where they rank for searches within a given physical location radius. This gives the user an unparalleled degree of both flexibility and specificity when reporting on their SEO progress.

Even with all of the above, SEMrush still has more to give. The platform’s Google integrations also allow the user to quickly identify which keywords are performing well in areas other than just search position. Google’s SERP pack while highly valuable in itself doesn’t always pull through information from the top position pages. In fact, a recent update has caused pages that appear in SERP to actually be forced down the rankings, in order to give the user the widest possible range of answers to their search.

Because of this “suppression” a report on keyword positions alone would make it appear that some keywords were underperforming, when in fact they are actually the first thing someone sees when they search thanks to the SERP pack. To get around this, SEMrush includes appearances in SERP in its own column, making it really easy to track what is showing up where.

Finally the SEMrush platform offers one more grain of absolutely essential information to SEO marketers in the keyword tracking report. Google updates. As we all know, Google seems to enjoy throwing spanners into the works when it comes to SEO by regularly making changes to their search algorithms… without telling us what they are. This can cause massive fluctuations in keyword rankings that without any context could lead some to think their site had just disappeared off the face of the Earth.

To help keep track of these updates, and to provide some context for any sudden peaks or troughs in historical keyword positions, SEMrush notes each of these updates and notable events directly on the position tracking timeline, so if you see a sudden drop followed by a sudden recovery, you can easily tell that it was simply due to an algorithm update.

To learn more about SEMrush position tracking check out their helpful tutorial here:


Backlink Audits

Inbound or external links are links that point from a page on a website to one on another site. Ensuring if these links are of a high quality is essential to drive SEO success, as Google and many other search engines use this to understand the “domain authority” of a page.

Backlinks are an important ranking factor as they give Google an indication of the value of your content, as the more people reference and link to it, the more likely it is that others will find the answers they need within. It’s crucial to maintain and monitor these backlinks as they can help or hinder your SEO campaign depending on their quality. High quality backlinks that carry a high domain authority can be treated as a reference or recommendation from another trusted expert in a given field. These links show legitimacy and help Google to view your site as a source for others to find the right information. On the flipside, a lot of references from sites with low domain authority (the internet’s equivalent of the village idiots) will lead Google to believe that you have paid for links, and as such doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of your site.

Backlink audits in SEMrush lay out all your linking domains ranked by their toxicity score, which gives you a really simple to understand list of which links are helping you, and which links are actually hurting you. Armed with this knowledge you can then use Google’s disavow tool to flag up those you would like to disassociate yourself with when Google next assess your linking domains.

Site Audits

Just like any other machine a website’s functionality or “health” can be measured and reported on, giving us a list of technical fixes that can be performed on the site in order to benefit SEO. This process in SEMrush is called a site audit.

From the off the site audit will give your chosen domain an overall health score out of 100%. This should give you a good indication on whether your site is happy and healthy, or if you have some work to do to give it a breath of new life. With your overall score digested, SEMrush then breaks down any issues it has uncovered into “errors”, “warnings” and “notices”, descending in order of severity. As a general rule you should address each of these issues in order of errors first, as these are often the issues that not only make a difference to the search engine crawler, but also to the real life user’s experience.

As with all aspects of SEO your site’s health has a direct bearing on how highly you rank, as the search engines want to send their users on the best journey possible, and so are less likely to send people to a site they deem to be undermaintained and hard to navigate. For this reason it is vital that not only do you carry out regular site audits, but that you also heed their instructions and carry out the necessary fixes.

PPC tools

Coins & Money | PPC Manchester

PPC Keyword Planning

While SEMrush is a great tool for optimising your site and tracking SEO progress, it offers useful tools for other key areas of marketing.

One of these areas is PPC, with SEMrush offering a useful facility for marketers who are compiling a keyword list for their search campaigns. When setting up a PPC search campaign, it’s important to carefully consider your keyword options. You need to find keywords that have the right search volume for your budget, and the best relevance for users to ensure a high conversion rate and less budget wastage.

The PPC Keyword tool on SEMrush has two main uses – organisation and optimisation.

It can help you keep your campaigns well organised, allowing you to easily group up similar keywords into multiple campaigns and ad groups. It also enables you to create lists of negative keywords for fine-tuning your campaigns. It’s a recommended tool for marketers at the start of a new PPC campaign, allowing them to head into their new account with fully organised, clear groups of keywords.

As well as helping you plan your keyword groups, it can help you to choose the most optimal keywords for your campaign. When you’ve inputted your list of keywords, either by uploading a file, importing them from an existing position tracking SEMrush campaign, or entering them manually, you’ll be provided with statistics to aid your choices. The keyword tool can show you the search volume for each keyword, as well as the competitive density, based on the number of fellow advertisers already bidding on those terms. It can also give you a rough idea of the average cost-per-click (CPC) of each of your inputted keywords.

Display Advertising Analysis

When it comes to search advertising, it’s very easy to view the ads that are already out there – just simply search on Google for the relevant keywords, and you can view the ads of your competitors. But if you’re thinking of setting up some display advertising, it’s not that simple to see how your competitors are utilising similar methods.

The semrush display advertising analysis tool being used by a Manchester SEO agency

With display ads shown based on precise targeting and remarketing, it’s difficult to trigger ads in your field as easily as finding search ads. This is where the Display Advertising tool on SEMrush comes in.

It’s a very simple tool, providing you with a single search box in which you can input a competitor’s domain, or a keyword based on the field you’re interested in.

You can view every display ad that’s recently been seen for any domain you enter. This also provides you with important stats, such as information about the audience that has seen them, how many times the ads have been seen, and on what websites they’ve been published.

As well as looking at the work of specific advertisers, you can also view various adverts for broader fields, by simply searching for a related keyword.

Overall, the tool can provide information for more than 310 million adverts, from 5.2 million different advertisers.

Other useful tools

Competitor Research

Keeping tabs on your competitors is a key SEO tactic. After all, how can you beat the competition if you don’t know what they’re up to? SEMrush’s Competitive Research Toolkit is your eyes and ears when it comes to keeping them in close check.

The tool provides many different resources needed to really gain an insight into the marketing strategies of your competitors throughout four key areas: Traffic, SEO, Advertising, Content & PR, and Social Media.

We’ve already touched on the keyword & backlink research features of competitor research, and will discuss SEO (organic search) later in the blog, so for this section we will be focusing on Traffic Analytics, which allows you to assess your competitors’ online performance by offering an in-depth overview of their website traffic data.

The semrush competitor traffic analysis tool being used by a Manchester SEO agency

The tool allows you to analyse up to 200 websites at once, and doesn’t hold anything back in terms of revealing everything you need to know about their website traffic. You can hone in on their number of unique visitors, desktop to mobile traffic ratio and their direct, referral, search, social and paid traffic.

The best thing is, that’s just the start. Whether you’re simply just intrigued by the numbers or want to use the data to your advantage, you’ll also be able to view Audience Insights to see how their visitors overlap between websites, and what other sites the same users visit.

The Traffic Journey section offers an insight into how your competitors are driving their traffic, so you can identify any weaknesses in your current campaign. Delve in even further to the Traffic Analytics section and you’ll be able to gauge a better understanding of your competitors are actively promoting, and where they’ve been the most successful.

We’d recommend checking out SEMrush’s complete Competitive Research Toolkit if you’re also interested in finding out more about your competitors’ social media and PR tactics, as they have some great tools for that!

Directory Listings

Online directories house key business information to help users locate the company they need. They’re web-based versions of the Yellow Pages. There are hundreds, if not thousands of online directories on the internet; some are with household names like The Sun and Yell, while others can be niche for a specific industry.

They present a great opportunity for businesses to build up their online citations and gain a handful of backlinks in the process. The latest research from Moz states that web directories and local citations still appear to be a small ranking factor, so it’s worth getting this sorted and luckily there’s a SEMrush tool that makes this a breeze.

You can find Listing Management under SEO > On Page & Tech SEO.

When we take on new digital marketing clients that have no online visibility, it’s one of our first ports of call.

Here, you can set up your business as a Location and populate a series of sections with key business information such as the address, contact details, category, industry, logo and social media links.

The tool is created in collaboration with Yext, making it super easy to push this business data out across all of the key, authoritative directories on the web. This includes distribution to Amazon Alexa, Apple and Google.

Not only does this save you hours of time, but you retain full autonomy over your listings by managing the data from within your SEMrush account. Building up citations can be a thankless task manually, luckily it doesn’t need to be that way.

Organic Research

When starting out on a new SEO campaign it is important to know who your competitors are, and where you will be competing with them. There are a myriad of keyword research tools out there but one of the most useful is sitting right there on the SEMrush dashboard.

The organic research tool should be any professional’s first stop when choosing keywords to track throughout the duration of a campaign as it has the unique ability of showing where your competition is ranking highly, and therefore the areas where you should be aiming to dethrone them.

By inputting the competitor URL into the tool you will be given a full report on many of their most important metrics. Some of these are complex and nuanced, but others are simple and pure gold.

SEMrush organic research tool overview

In the overview tab we are first presented with some broad metrics to help give you an idea of their SEO profile. These include the number of keywords they rank for, their estimated site traffic and importantly their traffic cost. Whilst none of these metrics are by themselves incredibly useful, together they give the trained eye a view into how an SEO campaign is performing.

If a site has an enormous number of keywords, but a comparatively low amount of traffic, then it is a good indicator that they have spread their wings far and wide, but haven’t made any real impact anywhere. By comparison, a more reasonable proportion of keywords to traffic shows that while the competitor may not be as far flung, they have a dominant foothold in the areas that they do appear.

Backing both of these up is the traffic cost, which is SEMrush’s estimation on how much their organic traffic would have cost to acquire using purely PPC. In this instance, the bigger the number, the better the site is performing, and the more attention you should be paying to the next part of their report.

By far the most useful part of the organic research report is the positions tab, which shows you exactly where your competitors are ranking for each keyword. Instead of spending hours doing keyword research to find areas where you would like to target, the organic research tool can tell you exactly where to attack.

SEMrush organic research positions tool tab

Using the tool you can browse your competitor’s most valuable keywords in terms of traffic, visitor volume and even the estimated cost per click, then cherry pick the areas you would like to challenge for the top spots and get to work optimising your campaign to do so.

Content Topics

Content marketing is the centrepiece of plenty of digital marketing campaigns, particularly those with the aim of improving search engine visibility. That said, search marketers need to make sure that their content is tailored to user searches.

There’s no point writing content that people aren’t interested in, of course, but who knew there was a tool out there to directly find out exactly what people are interested in?

With Topic Research you can find content ideas and turn them into an action plan. Simply pop your topic into the tool and you’ll be presented with popular subtopics, headlines and questions related to your keyword. You can study this data to prompt your next blog ideas or plug content gaps on your website.

In addition to this, we often use the Keyword Magic Tool when we’re planning our content. As explained earlier in the article, being able to find related keywords and their search volumes means you can find user questions and build out your content to answer them.

Custom Reports

As a digital agency, reporting back to clients is essential. It’s crucial to us that we can report on key metrics and statistics in a readable, easily digestible format that clients will be able to understand.

SEMrush custom reports allow us to do exactly that. As not all clients share the same KPIs, we’re able to pick and choose the data that we need to show them across all SEMrush features, alongside Google Analytics and Search Console.

The report builder is super user-friendly with drag-and-drop widgets which allow you to fully customise each report. We find it’s the easiest way to translate all of those overwhelming marketing metrics and numbers into an easy to consume and visually appealing PDF for clients. All of the reports are saved and managed within SEMrush so it’s ready to be re-generated for next month’s report!

On Page SEO Checker

‘On-page’ is one of the four fundamental areas of SEO alongside content, technical SEO and link building. SEMrush have created a tool to help marketers pinpoint the weaknesses on any given page, by running it through a universal tool that presents clear results and actions, called ‘Ideas.’

The tool breaks Ideas down into the following areas:

Strategy ideas

    highlighting key pages and keywords you can optimise them for.

Backlink ideas

    suggesting high-ranked websites you may be able to outreach to.

Technical SEO ideas

    to pinpoint crucial bugs and errors that are affecting crawlability.

Semantic ideas

    presenting you with semantically related words you can add to your content.

Content ideas

    helping you to use your target keywords to make your content more readable.

UX ideas

    giving you a picture of the experience that users are having on your site.

All you have to do is enter landing pages to check and choose a crawler. For the best results you can integrate the report with Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

If you want to start taking advantage of the tools SEMrush has to offer, then why not get in touch with a professional agency that knows their SEO? Please get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

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