Finding out what your competitors are doing is vital to your success.
When they zig, you know when to zag. When they run an advert, you can learn from their mistakes. When they create a piece of content you can find the links and make an even better one.
Understanding what they’re doing is: practical, applicable and easy to implement to see your income — and all of your results — skyrocket. But the big question here is, how?
How do you get access to this all important information? How do learn from their mistake? How, do you know exactly what moves your competitors are doing? Well, the answer is simple…
It’s the ultimate, versatile, tool that gives you the deep insights into your competition. You can see, almost like peering through a back door, what your competition is doing in search in real time.
Whether it’s finding the highest converting advert copywriting; the most effective keywords to leapfrog them in traffic or where to steal their most powerful backlinks, you have access to it all — and more.
Which is exactly why this article exists…
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What You Will Learn
In this guide I want to give you the complete guide to SEMRush to get the data you need.
That means that every single tool you could possibly need to get the data, and the advantage, necessary to make a difference to your rankings.
There’s no fluff here. No nice to knows. No, “Oh look, you could also do this if you feel like!” statements. Instead it’s just the information you need to get the results you want. If it doesn’t need to be here, it isn’t.
The article is split into these sections and you can just click the link to get to them:
- Your Site: How to use SEMRush to look inward, make important tweaks to your own site and access tools that can boost your rankings in hours.
- Your Competitors: How to identify your real search competitors, unlock keywords and access data to find their Achilles heel.
- Keywords: SEMRush is one of (if not the) best Keyword Research tool on the market. Here’s how to unlock keywords that will make a real difference to your business.
- Organic Rankings: See accurate rankings for even the the most remote areas of your competitors sites.
- Link Building: Learn how to hack your competitors linking strategies & get more link juice flowing your way.
- Advertising: Save time, money and effort by breaking into your competitors Ad campaigns and find out exactly what’s working for your money and the perfect times to strike.
- Social Media: See the social media stats from your own pages & your competitors
- Other Useful Tools: See what else SEMRush can offer you & get access to a brand new, not yet released tool.
- Reporting Tools: Measure — and display — your progress in seconds.
At the end of every section you’ll also find a This Section In Short section that breaks down the vital, important steps to take from what you’ve just read so that you can apply them straight away.
Allowing you to spend more time implementing and less time re-reading the article over again.
Okay, now that’s over, it’s time for you to get stuck into the content!
What Is SEMRush (And Why Should You Care)?
The simplest way I can put it?
SEMRush is like having a mole in your competitor’s marketing department. Someone who gives you all the data, results and information straight from their office floor. And, then shows you how to build a strategy to win.
SEMRush is the most versatile SEO and PPC tool on the market. There’s nothing you can’t do in the tool when you know how to use it (which you will by the end of this guide).
It focuses on saving you time, money and showing you the perfect opportunities to get marketing results that matter. There’s no vanity metrics here; the only measurables are the ones that will make you money in the long.
With the tool you have access to the most comprehensive keyword research tool available. You can dissect everything from rankings, to advert copy and backlink profiles.
And, you can see the moves your competition is making and create a solid strategy to combat them.
If you care about getting Search traffic — and if you’re here I bet you do — then this is a tool that you need to have in your life.
That being said, if you’re ready, let’s get on with how you can use SEMRush to dominate your market. But, do be warned, once you start reading you’ll never look at marketing in the same way again…
Using SEMRush To Optimise Your Site
Before you look at your competitors, it’s important to understand what you can improve on your own site.
This gives you a clean, strong and ready to build on platform to attack your competitors from. Exploring every angle of how you improve your current in house SEO can give you almost instant results to your SEO from even the most minor tweaks.
And, with some of the new tools from SEMRush — like the SEO Ideas Tool and Backlink Auditor — you can make major changes with little effort from your side. It’s almost done for you.
Let’s take a look at how you can get your house in order…
#1: Audit Your Website With The Audit Tool
The first step you should really take is to perform an audit on your site.
This goes above and beyond your usual free audit tools and gives you an incredibly clear picture of your site. To do this simply follow these steps:
Projects > Site Audit
Then enter your information into the box like so:
Wait a couple of seconds — or minutes depending on your site — and you’ll be presented with a lovely, complete audit of your site.
Here’s the results for this site so you can get a real behind the scenes look at me, too:
While on the surface it may not look like you’re getting the most in-depth audit ever, you’re actually getting the information you need without any of the fluff.
Take some time to look around on here — or save it as a PDF — before heading on to the next stage.
#2: Collect Benchmark Data
This is your platform. Your checklist, if you will. You can find out just how your site is performing and what you’re going to need to focus on.
Simple type your site name into the search bar like so and select the Domain Overview option from the drop down:
Hey-presto, that gives you a whole insight into the world of your site (almost) through the eyes of Google themselves. You can see a wide range of results which are easy to track in movement — both good and bad — within a really easy to view dashboard.
Here’s a visual breakdown of what you can track:
#3: SEO Ideas Tool
Keeping the focus on you for just a few more minutes, the SEO Ideas tool is a potent weapon in your arsenal.
According to the official word from the SEMRush team this is one of the most undervalued tools by users, but that makes no sense to me, because this is awesome.
Each page of your site is analysed and you’re given instantly actionable SEO advice. For example, let’s take a look at this results from my analysis:
By clicking on the Ideas button it takes you to a page like below where it suggests keyword options, possible page improvements and backlink opportunities from specific sites:
If you want even more depth you can see the data behind these suggestions as well by clicking the Get Data Behind It button.
To access this hidden gem simply follow this path:
Project > [Select Site] > SEO Ideas
#4: Backlink Audit Tool
Google had made it well and truly clear that your backlink profile is your responsibility. If you’re not taking care of it, eventually, you’re going to suffer.
The problem has been, at least so far, that cleaning your backlink profile has been quite a lengthy process. It can take days, weeks or even months to find and get rid of a link that’s holding you back.
But this Backlink Audit tool has put all of that to bed. In fact, this may be the easiest tool to keep your backlink profile clean ever made.
You can find it through these steps:
Project > Backlink Audit Tool
This tool is independent from the rest of the audit tools because it’s so unique.
As the team explain here, it performs a thorough backlink search and checks them against 30 toxic ranking factors showing you which links may just be holding you back:
Here you can see that one of the links pointing back to my site is really toxic. It’s doing me no favours by being there.
But, instead of just telling me this link is toxic — based on the 30 factors it uses to rank the links — it also gives you the option to select and submit these links to be disavowed.
I’m not going to go through each factor and why it’s important — you can read about that here — instead this tool saves you time and effort by just telling you that the link is a no-no for your site.
Heading into the future, where backlinks and your overall profile are only going to become more important, this tool is going to be a real gamechanger.
#5: Brand Monitoring Tool
Branding is everything in the new age of digital marketing. And, with this tool, you’re able to track, measure and adjust how your brand is viewed across the internet.
The tool shows you:
- Mentions: Where your brand — whether that’s your own name, or your business name — is being mentioned around the internet.
- Backlinks: Where your backlinks are coming from, and opportunities for you to act on them, such as editing anchor text or networking with that site owner.
It’s the best of Buzzsumo and Mention in one, easy to use, tool that integrates seamlessly with the rest of the projects.
Try it for yourself by heading to:
Projects > Your Site Name > Brand Monitoring
When you enter your domain information, you’ll be asked for keywords to track. These are what you want to be mentioned for around the internet, so that’s what it’ll look for.
For example, I want to see how often I’m mentioned as Matthew Woodward, because I’m interested in my personal brand. Once you enter this information — and any alternatives — you’ll be met with this screen:
Not only did I found out there is also a travel writer with exactly the same name (he likes trains by the way), but that I’d recently been featured on a blog I had no idea about:
The blog post itself has a decent amount of comments, so I can use it to interact with his audience. Or, I can use it to thank him for the mention, network or ask for a backlink to a different page.
By creating a new campaign, I was able to find thousands of pages that had used the exact phrase ‘Link Building Tactics’ that I could potentially use to boost my content:
Play around with either of these techniques and keep them running in the background. When you start showing up more and more you know your content is growing in the right direction.
This Section In Short
The tools that focus on your site are really underrated in SEMRush. But they’re highly impactful on your overall SEO.
With just a few hours investment on the projects tools alone you could create hundreds of opportunities to improve your rankings, without even looking at a single competitor.
The first step you should take is to perform an audit on your site to get a deeper view of where your site is in dire need of improvement.
Access it via: Projects > Site Audit.
The second step is to collect the benchmark data for your site so you can find exactly where your site is now and track improvements.
Access it via: Domain Analytics > Overview.
The third step is to look at the SEO ideas tool and see suggestions to improve your current content. These keywords and link building opportunities can boost the results you get from your competitor work by giving you a stronger platform.
Access it via: Project > Site > SEO Ideas.
The fourth step is to use the Backlink Audit Tool. Take some time to look through your current link profile and do a clean up. Get rid of those awful links that are holding you back, to make your next link building campaign more effective.
Access it via: Project > Backlink Audit
Finally, set up The Brand Monitoring tool to see where you’re performing well and just how your branding efforts are going.
Access it via: Project > Brand Monitoring Tool
Get The Inside Scoop On The Competition
Competitor Research is everything you can do in SEMRush, so don’t be fooled by this section being standalone.
Instead what you’re going to get here is the tools, in isolation, that can have the most impact on your campaigns.
You’re going to see: how to identify who your competitors are, get a backstage pass to their campaigns and statistics and understand where to find the most vulnerable chinks in their armour.
#6: Identify Your Top Organic Search Competitors
Identifying your Organic Search Competitors couldn’t be easier. First, follow these four steps:
Domain Analysis > Show Entire Menu > Organic Search > Competitors
That’ll take you to this screen where you can enter your domain name. Drop it in the search bar and hit submit.
You will get a complete breakdown of:
- Who your organic search competition are
- The level of competition
- Your keywords in-common
- The competitions traffic
- Visual representations of how you stack up
Which looks a little something like this:
This competitor list can give you a truly stunning list of competitors you didn’t know existed, either.
Like, these sites weren’t even really on my radar:
Don’t quit this page yet, though, because it brings you squarely on to the next step.
#7: One Click Competitor Overviews
Take the list of competitors at the bottom of the analysis and choose, say, three of the sites on the list. They can be known competitors, or ones you’ve never heard of. Then ctrl and click on the links of the site.
This will open up a domain overview (like you saw for your site earlier) of your competition.
You can see a tonne of information that we’ll come to a little later, such as: top keywords, backlinks, their competition and how they stack up in the rankings, too.
#8: Take a Behind-The-Scenes Look at Your Competitor’s Organic Search Performance
On the same page you can get an incredible insight into your competitors organic search performance.
This is located in the top portion of the page, right here:
And you can get this information for their mobile SEO traffic too:
These graphs allow you to see trends and observe when they’re launching a new campaign.
This could be that they’ve found a new keyword, started creating better content, focused on link building or any of the above.
This is where it pays to do further research, as you’ll find out how to do in the next few steps.
#9: Find Your Competitions Top Performing Keywords
On the overview page you’ll also see a list of Keywords that are performing well.
Take some time to look at this in more depth by hitting the view entire report button:
This gives you a complete breakdown of every keyword they’re ranking for and the complete insight into them — more on that in the Keywords section — so you can see what they’re currently ranking for, or trying to, rank for.
Now, like me, you might have a lot of branded results that show up.
After all, Majestic have done a great job of branding themselves. You can filter out these results to get to the heart of the keywords you want to compete for right here:
That gives you a more actionable list of keywords you can pay attention to and look to leapfrog them with.
#10: Uncover Your Competitor’s Top Performing Content
Brian Dean’s skyscraper is a wonderful way to drive more traffic and boost your SEO. But, it can be hard to know what content you should spend time Skyscrapering (if that’s even a word).
There’s also a lot to be said for knowing which content performs well in your niche, so you can see what you need to create yourself (or steal keywords from).
Within the same page head to:
Domain Analytics > Organic Research > Pages
In front of you is a whole list of their highest performing pages with an estimated traffic percentage each page brings.
Depending on your niche and how you’re targeting content it could pay to filter out these results based on certain specifics.
For example, my best efforts to compete with Majestic are on their blog, so I’ve filtered out all of their usual results to see what’s performing well on their blog:
If you wash, rinse and repeat this process with different competitors — and using the SEO Ideas tool — you could create SEO rich content ideas for up to a year with little effort.
This Section In Short
This section is short and simple, but it’s vital to your success. Here’s how to identify, understand and uncover the most important information about your competitors.
Identify Your Competition
The first step is to find out who your competition is. While this would take weeks on your own, SEMRush can do it in minutes. And, it’s not always who you think it might be be.
Enter your domain into the search bar, then follow these four steps in the sidebar:
Domain Analysis > Show Entire Menu > Organic Search > Competitors
This will bring up a graph of your competitors and where they rank in terms overall competitiveness.
Take A Backstage Look At Their Performance
Once you’ve identified your competitors, take a look at their performance by clicking on their name. This will bring you to an overview of everything you need to know about them.
Find Their Most Important Keywords
Scroll down that page and you’ll see their main keywords, in order, and how they’re ranking for them:
Go ahead and open up the full report and you’ve got a complete file to export of every keyword they think is worth ranking for. Giving you content ideas, new long tail keywords and insight into their market focus.
Target Their Top Performing Content
This is one of the most fun parts of peering over the wall into your competitors camp. Instead of guessing their highest performing content, you can actually find out what it is, by following these steps:
Domain Analytics > Organic Research > Pages
Now you can Skyscraper content — great for you affiliate marketers out there — to your hearts content.
SEMRush — Next Level Keyword Research
SEMRush is often considered one of the best Keyword research tools. And, for good reason.
You can get super specific results for your target keyword — whether that’s for long tail research, cost per click data or anything between — and make more informed keyword decisions.
Here’s how you can get every last drop of keyword awesomeness…
#11: SEO Keyword Magic
Let’s kick this section off with another brand new tool, shall we?
The Keyword Magic tool is designed to make your keyword research easier by giving you more refined results, with more data to back them up.
While you still get your usual data — CPC and Volume — you can also get a deeper insight into: Keyword Difficulty, Competition and SERP features.
You can access this tool through:
Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic
Enter in your target keyword(s) into your search bar and submit:
That’ll bring you to a page where you can find all of the most relevant keywords for your website. And, if you choose to, you export up to one million of these keywords in a single file.
On the side bar you can drill down your searches in less time, and get suggestions you may not have considered, like this result for PDF’s:
You can filter out based on anything you want.
You can take out specific words, rates of competition, costs and difficulties.
Less time searching; more results. Not a bad tool to have under your belt.
#12: Get Comprehensive Keyword Data
What makes SEMRush an even better keyword research tool is the detailed keyword analytics it provides. You can drill down into the long tail keywords while still remaining incredibly specific to your target.
Go ahead and open up the Keyword Overview by going to:
Keyword Analytics > Overview
Enter one of your target keywords into the search bar — I’ve gone with Travel Guides — and hit enter.
That will bring up a dashboard with a whole host of information like this:
Right here you can see:
- CPC Data
- Search Trends
- Number of Results
- Current Rankings
- Phrase Match Keywords
- Related Keywords
And if you hit the Mobile tab at the top you can see all of this data for Smartphone searches too:
In just a matter of seconds you can have lots of relevant, targeted information to help you make decisions. And, you can even expand on this and turn it into a long tail keyword search tool too.
Which brings me squarely to the next point…
#13: Do Deep, Specific, Keyword Research…
On the overview page you’ve got open right now, take a look at this set of boxes right here:
Don’t worry too much about these initial results.
Instead go ahead and click the view full report button underneath the Related Keywords tab (we’ll look at the phrase match next, don’t worry).
On this page you’ll get a consistently live updated view of long tail keywords surrounding your target keyword:
Here you’re given enough information to make informed keyword decisions for your content. And, find extra keyword ideas to place into your existing (or upcoming) content.
Or you can go deeper and use the Filters tab to create your own filters, too.
But right now you have hundreds of easy to use long tail keywords right in front of you. You can even export them if you’d like.
Now, once you’ve had a search here, head to the side panel (pictured below) and choose the Phrase Match tab.
This will come up with a similar page for this type of keyword, that can all be filtered in the same way.
The difference here is that these results are based on the phrases that people use when they search around your target keyword.
So, these are a bit more semantic search focused. And they come with an extra benefit I’m going to talk about in this next point.
#14: …And Use Them To Create Content Ideas
The reason this gets it’s own mention is because this is a neat side to SEMRush you can easily leverage to create SEO rich content. You can do this to an extent with other tools, but not with quite as much gusto.
Take a look at those search results in the last section. All of those phrases are perfect indicators for creating content specific to searches in your niche, and having relevant long tail keywords right at the core of them.
These results, for example, would make for incredible travel guide content:
Try this with four or five different target keywords and you can have 100 plus content ideas — or better yet, product ideas if you’re a blogger — without having to do much legwork.
#15: Drill Down To Find The Best Long Tail Keywords
Okay, you’ve seen the abundance of results you can get for Long Tail Keywords with SEMRush. But now I’m going to show you how to take it one step further.
Head back to the Related Keyword tool for your target keyword, with the full report, on the page you saw above.
Go ahead and find a keyword that intrigues you, or fits your current campaign, and then click on it.
That will bring up another page filled with related and phrase match keywords for that keyword.
And there is absolutely no limit to how many times you can do this. You can drill down, and down, and down, until you find the perfect result.
Combine this with your specific filters — there’s a complete list at the end of this section — and you can get the most specific, data driven keywords for your niche with as little as five to 10 minutes work.
#16: Track Keyword Performance In Any Location in the World
Let’s mix it up. You can also track keywords and how they’re performing in any location in the world.
Going back to my Travel Guides keyword search, I don’t need to just focus on the USA or the UK like I’d tend to.
By going to the Overview you’re able to select from 30 different countries from the drop down at the top:
For example, here’s the data on my keyword in the Netherlands:
It’s a nice feature that helps you develop a more rounded, global view of your keyword. And to understand where extra traffic comes from — or can be generated from — and why.
#17: Find Keywords You Didn’t Even Know Existed
Okay, by this point in the article, you should have a much clearer idea of:
- Who your competition is
- The keywords you’re both ranking for
- What you’re more likely to rank for
- Where you can get an upper hand on the competition
If you’ve not, I’d recommend you get every last drop out of those steps before you move on to the rest of this step. If you’re with me, here goes.
There are keywords that your competition are ranking for that you’re not even aware exist, and they’re just waiting for you to come and cash in on them.
Moving from the travel guides keyword for a moment and focusing in house here, I’m going to head over to the Domain vs Domain tool, located through this sequence:
Domain Analytics > Domain vs Domain
This will give you a screen like this where you can enter URL’s of your competitors against your own URL:
I’m going to go ahead and run a search from two of the main competitors from my competitor graph (you may remember this from before): Majestic and Ahrefs.
When you run the search it’ll give you a table of results. Ignore that and click the Enable Charts button in the top right hand corner.
That’ll give you a venn diagram like this:
All of these keywords that aren’t overlapping with you are unique keywords you’re not ranking for but your competitors are. To see these keywords so that you can use them for yourself, click on to the section of the diagram you want to see:
Once on the other page, click the Table View button and this will give you hundreds to thousands of keywords you can explore to leverage for your next campaign:
#18: Find Out Where the Competition is Getting the Upper Hand
Phew, how are you doing, still with me? In this stage you’re going to see the exact keywords where your competition is getting the upper hand.
Head back to the Domain Analytics tab and find your organic search competitors again. If you can’t remember that, here’s the sequence again:
Domain Analytics > Organic Research > Competitors
On this page you’ll see a bunch of analytics. The main one you’re looking for is Common Keywords located here:
Take one of your competitors and click on the number of keywords you share. That’ll bring up this page with all of your common keywords.
Click the name of your competitor until it shows all the keywords with the larger number in their favor:
These are all the keywords your competition is getting the best of you on.
There will be some results here you can get rid of, but on the whole, there will find places you really need to improve.
For example, on this result, I could definitely try harder to build more of a presence. And it would probably be worth my while.
This might not just be because you’ve been lazy or missed an opportunity, either. Take some time to figure out why they’re ranking more highly than you on these fronts.
- Do they have better on page SEO?
- Do they have backlinks you could hijack?
- Do they have more, or better, information?
- Is the page newer or more relevant?
Once you understand this you can begin to focus on building stronger, more relevant content that will create those higher rankings for you.
Before you take any action on this section on your site though, take a close look at this next section…
#19: What Are Your Chances of (Realistically) Outranking the Competition?
Sometimes you have to accept that your competition has gotten you beat. You need to find a different, more creative, way of outranking your competition that’s actually more achievable.
This is where the Keyword Difficulty tool can save you time, money and effort. Because there’s nothing worse than investing your resources into a keyword you’ll never actually win the battle for.
If you’ve exported any keywords you want to try and outrank your competition for, or have gathered anything along the way on the rest of this article, have them to hand now.
To access this tool go through this sequence:
Keyword Analytics > Keyword Difficulty
Once in the tool, add some of the keywords you’d like to try and outrank the competition on by putting them in the box (one keyword per line) then submitting them.
This will give you a little table showing you the keyword difficulty and the percentage likelihood you’re going to be able to compete against your competition.
For me the odds look decent but with more research I could definitely find keywords better suited to my currently strategy:
You’ll have to make a judgement call here for yourself.
The difficulties will be different niche to niche and where you are in your campaign will also play a large factor. But, you may also find a gem — like I did — where you can take back some ground.
All The Filters Broken Down For You…
Once you’ve gleaned a good overview of these long tail keywords, and gathered some content ideas, you can start to drill down and get to the core of the keywords that fit your site perfectly.
In this section I’m going to show you all the ways you can get more specific and targeted with your research, so you can gather the right results for you.
If you want to follow along with the section in real time, keep the keywords you’ve been searching with for the last few steps, and open the Filters tab at the top of the page:
#20: Get Keywords With A Specific Amount Of Search Results
This is a highly undervalued element of research, but knowing how often your keyword is being searched can really help you steer your content in the right direction (or away from the wrong one).
To filter this simply select the following:
You can set the number to whatever you need it to be because this will be specific to your business, site, client or project.
#21: Get Keywords Including A Specific Word
Simple and effective. To create a keyword report including a specific keyword that you need in your searches, create this combination:
For example, you might want to include buyer focused keyword modifiers like buy, best, cheap or review etc
#22: Get Keywords Excluding A Specific Word
In need of the opposite? You can do that with this filter:
You might want to get rid of tire kicker keywords like free.
#23: Get Specific Keywords Beginnings And Endings
If you know where in a long tail keyword that your words need to sit you can find them by either selecting them at the beginning with this combination:
Or at the end with this combination:
You can also use this filter to exclude specific beginnings and endings also, like so:
#24: Get Keywords Based On Their Monthly Search Volume
Looking for a lower, higher or exact volume of searches each month? You’ll be glad to know there’s a filter for that, too.
To set it up for a greater, less than or equal search volume, select this:
You probably will never need to, but if you do want to exclude results on the greater, less than or equal scale, you can do so by changing the include to an exclude:
#25: Find Keywords With A Specific Word Count
If you’d prefer your keywords to be longer or shorter, guess what? There’s a filter for that.
I’d recommend keeping this on the include setting if you’re looking for a specific length, and only switching to exclude if you know a specific word count you can’t have:
#26: Find Keywords Based On Their CPC
I’ll touch on advertising and CPC later on, but if you have an idea in mind, you can choose to filter your keywords based on the greater than, equal to, or less than by changing to the CPC option in the centre drop down box:
#27: Find Keywords Based On Their Competition
Looking to take on the big dogs on their high competition keywords?
Or, are you looking to get the best bang for your buck on the low competition ones?
Whatever it is you can play around to find your sweet spot with these filters.
You’ll need to select the Com. option from the middle drop down. Then you can set it up to show easy to rank for keywords!
#28: Filter Based On The Number Of Results
I think by now you’re getting the idea of how to filter out other specifics.
But the final option on this list is to filter out on the number of search results for your specific keyword.
You can choose from the greater than, less than or equal by toying with this filter:
This Step In Short
SEMRush is fast becoming the gold standard in Keyword Research tools, and it’s easy to see why.
The Keywords you can find here are targeted, relevant and focused to you more than most other tools you can get your hands on.
So, if you’re looking to choose your keywords with confidence and precision, here’s what you need to do…
Set Up Keyword Magic
The Keyword Magic tool brings you the most relevant keywords, based on data driven from your site and your competitors, in just a couple of seconds. You can access it here:
Keyword Analytics > Keyword Magic
Here you’ll find laser focused suggestions — even ones you may not have even considered — to add to your content, or to start targeting in the future, to get an upper hand.
Get Deep, Targeted, Keyword Results
Head to the Keyword Overview page by clicking:
Keyword Analytics > Overview
Once there enter your, or your competitor’s, domain into the search bar. That’s going to present you with a list of the most used keywords. Don’t focus too much on this data, and click the View Full Report button.
Here you have a full list of all of their keywords — long tail and otherwise — that have been targeted now or in the past. Why do you need this?
Because it shows you profitable, valuable keywords that your competitor is using right now. It’s just saved you hours of endless research.
Find All The Long Tail Keywords You’ll Ever Need
Take one of the keywords from the step above and click on it. That’ll bring you to another page with a breakdown of that keyword. And, there’s a box with more related keywords to that keyword.
Click on the View Full Report and that’ll give you even more related keywords:
Wash, rinse and repeat this process with all the relevant keywords you can find, export each list as you go.
Analyse Keyword Difficulty To Create A Foolproof Strategy
Once you have your keywords you need to decide which ones are going to bring you the best return on investment — for both your time and your money — and build a solid plan of attack.
Take the keywords you want to analyse and head to the this tool through:
Keyword Analytics > Keyword Difficulty
That’ll give you this lovely little box where you can add up to 100 keywords at a time.
Once you’ve got a this data you can really begin to shape your content and your keyword use.
Get Tactical Organic Ranking Information
With the SEMRush organic ranking tools you can see where your competitors rank, what for and how they do it.
You can get specific too, by looking at accurate rankings for entire sites, pages, subfolders and even phrases.
Here’s how you can do it…
#29: Track Entire Site Rankings
Okay, from looking at my competitor list, you can assume I don’t know much about Monitor Backlinks. And, I want to know more about where they rank and where I can get the upper hand.
To get their entire site rankings all you have to do is head to the dashboard and enter their domain (without the http:// or www.) into the main search bar.
You don’t need a breakdown for this because the search bar is accessible from each page:
This gives you all of their site information like you saw earlier. But, in order to see all of their rankings follow this pathway:
Sidebar > Organic Research > Positions
Now you have a complete breakdown of every keyword they rank for; where they rank for it; the volume of searches and a handful of other metrics we’ll cover as we go.
You can even use the SERP Screenshot to verify the result and see who else is competing for the same keyword.
So this is the entire site and you can get a lot of information just from this. But when it comes time to go on the attack and try to outrank, this can show you where the real chinks in their armour are.
#30: Track All Of A Subdomain’s Rankings
A lot of your competitors — especially if you’re with medium to large businesses — will have subdomains that they hold: blogs, products, tools, content and apps on.
Finding where these subdomains rank, and which are the most vulnerable, can help you create a strategy to outrank them all.
You don’t need to re-search with the subdomain, either. Simply find the one you want to analyse — mine is blog.monitorbacklinks.com — and create a filter that looks like this:
Include > URL > Containing > [Subdomain]
Or, this, if you’re a bit more visual:
This will bring up all of the rankings for this specific subdomain, in order, that you can analyse.
From looking at the data I can see that to outrank them for the keyword, Google Backlinks, could be quite difficult as they’re the first ranking for this:
But to compete for the long tail keyword of, How To Get Backlinks, could be a better place to focus my time as they’re lower in the rankings and it still has a good search volume:
#31: Find Rankings For A Specific Page
This is where we start getting really deep. You can look at the exact rankings for a specific page, too. And there are two ways you can do it…
If you’re following the process above and want to see all the data of a page that ranks for a keyword you’re trying to rank for, you can just click on the link in the results:
That will take you to a page that shows you a complete breakdown of the data for that page.
Or, if you already know the page you want to see the data on, you can just enter it into the search bar at the top and go directly to the results.
#32: Find Subfolder Rankings
You can also find how a specific subfolder on a site is ranking. For example if they have a blog, pages in other languages or tools and resources that you want to focus on.
For examples, Ahrefs have a /blog/ subfolder, so let’s take a look at that by creating this filter:
Include > URL > Containing > [Domain.com/subfolder]
Or, here it is visually:
Now you can see all of this subfolders rankings. Simple.
#33: Find Rankings For URL’s With A Specific Keyword
Finding domains that match specific words, or keywords, can also provide insight and let you laser-focus your research.
Find the phrase or keyword you want them to contain and enter it into this filter:
Include > URL > Containing > [Word]
That’ll look like this:
Which will give you a page that shows you every result for a page, subdomain or subfolder that contains that word.
#34: Find Which HTTPS Pages Are Ranking
This can’t be done in SEMRush itself. But, it can be done by exporting from the tool.
Take the results you want — I’ve used the whole site data, but this still works for all the other data — and export it into an Excel file. You can then see on the spreadsheet where the HTTPS pages are ranking:
#35: Find Specific Suffix Rankings
Yeah, that’s the level of depth you can get to here. For example, your competitor could have a .html file that’s ranking well that you don’t even know about.
To set this up create this filter:
Include > URL > Containing > [Suffix]
Or, like this, if you’re more visual:
#36: Find A Page With A Specific Ranking Position
Want to target a page on their site with a specific ranking? You can do that by creating this filter:
Include > Pos. > Equal > [Number]
That looks like this:
And it’ll show you every possible page on their site ranking like this.
#37: Find Their Low Ranking Pages
Low ranking pages are easy to target and dissect. For example, if you wanted every page that ranks below seven on Google, you can create this filter (numbers are interchangeable):
Include > Pos. > Less Than > [Number]
Which looks like this on screen:
#38: Find Their High Ranking Pages
You can achieve exactly the opposite by creating this filter:
Include > Pos. > Greater Than > [Number]
Which becomes this on the screen:
#39: Find All This Information Internationally
Everything you’ve read so far can be done for all of the countries on the SEMRush database, too. All you need is to change the locational information at the top of the page.
#40: Find US Bing Rankings
From the same countries drop down menu you can find the Bing section at the bottom of the selection box.
Chances are you’ll see a big drop off here in terms of results and keywords.
But, none the less, the information here is worth taking note of if you want to gain another traffic source.
#41: Find Their Historical Rankings
SEMRush can provide you with all of their historical rankings. Letting you uncover trends, strategies and pick out campaigns throughout their history.
Change the data from the live data dropdown menu here:
You can export this data so you can track all of their historical position changes as well.
This Section In Short
The SEMRush organic ranking tools allow you to see the performance of your competitors: sites, subdomains, subfolders, pages and their content, either on the whole or in isolation.
This allows you to identify the strongest (and weakest) points in their strategy and land a perfect right hook accordingly.
Here’s how to get the inside scoop…
Take A Look At Their Entire Site
The first step is to find out how their entire site ranks. That way you can see where they’re really performing well and what that means for you.
To do that, head to this page and enter their domain:
Sidebar > Organic Research > Positions
This will show you their sites organic rankings and every keyword they’re trying to rank for, site wide.
You can see:
- Their most profitable keywords
- The keywords it’s not worth fighting for
- The search terms you can get the upper hand in
You’re also able to look at which part of their site drive the most search traffic.
Which leads seamlessly on to the next section…
Target The Highest Performing Sections
Certain parts of their site are going to drive more traffic — a blog, a landing page, product pages etc. — and this is important information for you to utilise. Why?
- You can identify their traffic strategies
- You can Skyscraper content more effectively (for better backlinks)
- You can find the most relevant keywords to your competitors
- You can understand how to combat their SEO tactics
To do this, take the highest performing pages from the overview and perform a search for them, too.
If it’s a subfolder (site.com/subfolder) you can just enter the URL back in to the search bar. However, if it’s a subdomain (blog.site.com) you need to create a filter like this:
Include > URL > Containing > [Subdomain]
This again will show you all the keywords that this section of the site is performing well on. And, give you an insight into which of the keywords you can start to outrank them for, also.
You can also rinse and repeat this for specific pieces of content. So you can find the information for an exact piece of content, so you can create a piece that competes (and excels).
Level Up Your Link Building
As you saw before in the backlink audit section (you did check that tool out, right?) backlinks are one of the top three most important metrics in search right now, and for the foreseeable future.
That’s why SEMRush have put so much time and effort into crafting this set of link building and analysis tools.
They help to give you the optimal platform to find out where your competitors are winning ground, give you insight to help you get an advantage and create an effective campaign.
Let’s look at how you can get to the next level, shall we?
#42: View Your Competitor’s Backlink Profile
Enter your competitor’s domain into the search bar (I’ve mixed it up and gone for Ahrefs from my list this time) and from the dropdown menu to the left (the grey box pictured below) select the Backlinks option:
That’s going to bring you to this page where you can see all of the overview backlink information of the site:
This page will show you your competitors entire backlink profile.
This is a great way to see how well established your competitor is, where their audience is located (the map below) and the authority of the sites linking back to them.
From this snapshot alone you can get to grips with what you’re up against and where they’re building their backlinks from.
For example, take a look at the total backlinks and the total of referring domains. This is a key indicator of how diverse their audience is. How?
Ahrefs have 152,000 backlinks from 2,200 domains.
That means that while their audience is diverse — 2,200 different sites linking to you is nothing short of brilliant — they tend to get the same sites linking back to the over, and over, again (66 links per site give or take).
Having this knowledge can help you find where to target your competitors and find where the opportunities to get links from other sites are, as well explore how you too can develop a relationship with high quality sites.
#43: See Your Competitors Referring Domains
Okay, that’s the overview. Now to get into the real nitty gritty and start digging really deep over the next few steps.
While you’re on the overview screen, head to the side panel and select the backlinks section. That looks like:
Backlinks > Backlinks
This will present you with a complete list of the domains referring back to your competitor’s site, with the most referring domain and the top and descending from there.
From this basic overview the main goal is to identify the partnerships your competitors have with other sites.
For example there are 28,370 plus backlinks from this site for Ahrefs, which suggests some form of partnership (although this could be an outlier):
Instead I’d wager that this site, Silktide, is definitely in partnership because there are over 157 links from just that one domain:
This can be easily switched between URL, Domain and Root Domain by cycling through the buttons at the top of the page.
You can export this document to create a database of places you can try to get links — or try to skyscraper their content — and see what sort of sites are beneficial to create partnerships with for yourself, as well.
#44: Find All Subdomain Backlinks
You can do this through a similar process by entering the subdomain link into the search bar of SEMRush.
Why do this?
This can allow you to see the performance of each subdomain and how it makes up their overall link profile, giving you information on where to focus your link building efforts.
You could have a competitor that has a lot of links to their on site content, but poor links to their blog, which would show you an opportunity to create great blog content to win in rankings.
Ahrefs don’t have a subdomain (at least that I could access) so here’s the information for the Majestic blog subdomain for transparency:
#45: Find Backlinks To A Specific URL
You can get hyper-specific by targeting a single one of your competitors pieces of content, or pages on their site, as well.
Enter it here to find out how many, and who, is linking to it. Be sure to include the http:// so that the tool searches for page specific data:
This is brilliant if you’re looking to create content to fit a specific backlink, implement the skyscraper method or already have content that would better fit a link.
#46: Compare Backlinks For 5 Different Domains At Once
How’s that for time management, eh?
Using the Backlink Comparison tool you can look at the backlink profiles of five different sites all at the same time. You can access it through this process:
Backlinks > Backlink Comparison
Choose your four competitor domains (it’s good to include yourself here) and enter them into the tool and hit Compare. That will bring up a comparison table of each site.
This will give you the overview for each site in one place, like so:
Each result is colour coded and shows you who is performing best, worst and on an equal playing field for each.
I’d recommend you interpret each and every results individually though and dig deeper — as you’ll see in the next steps — on to what each of them really means. However all of the metrics here are key to the profile of each site.
The main idea here though is to see where you can spend time to improve on your own link profile.
For example, while Ahrefs may have the upper hand everywhere, if I could land some more Educational links — you might find it hard to some across government links for an SEO blog — I could start to tip the balance more in my favour.
When you get the results for yourself look for the ways that you can get the upper hand. Don’t look for big numbers and think that the battle is lost already, instead strategically plan where you can start to make up the numbers.
#47: Look For Links With (Or Without) Specific Anchor Text
This is the only tool that is frustrating in the whole toolkit. Because while you can find exact match anchor text, you can’t find anything containing a word or phrase.
However, if you do know what you’re looking for, then you can still get hold of some great data here.
With Specific Anchor Text
To find a link with a specific set of anchor text, set up a filter like this:
Include > Anchor > Exactly Matching > [Anchor Text]
That looks like this on screen:
You can use this when you’re looking for a specific anchor for your content or link to hi-jack. Or, just to get a feel for the types of anchor text that bode well for your competitors.
Without Specific Anchor Text
If you’re competitor has good marketing, or a good SEO company, they’ll no doubt have a good amount of branded anchor text, which can stop you from finding the anchor text you need.
The same goes for if they’ve highly optimised for a specific keyword too.
To create an exclusion filter put together this combination:
Exclude > Anchor > Exactly Matching > [Anchor Text]
That’ll look like this:
You will have to create a lot of variations on this though. So take some time to go through and see the different options and then exclude them all.
Ahrefs have branded anchor text like:
Which makes it necessary to filter out a lot of different options. And, this will probably apply if they have optimised for a keyword you’re not trying to rank for also.
#48: Find The Estimated Age Of A Backlink
Want to know how old a backlink is? Easy. Just take a look at the column right here:
The accuracy here may be a little give or take — and it’s certainly worthwhile using a crawler to check with links are 100% still active — but for a good overview at your fingertips, it doesn’t get much better than this.
#49: Find Backlink Anchor information
Want to see all of the anchor text a site has? Easy. While you’re in the overview head to:
Backlinks > Anchors
That’ll show you a full list of all the anchor text for your competition:
Now, you can’t filter out here so it’s time to get your hands dirty and dig deeper on your own if you really are looking for something special.
#50: Find Results With (Or Without) Image Backlinks
Image links are still a legitimate way of building links to your site, and your competitors may be using it against you. Or, maybe those results are just getting in your way.
Either or, here’s how to include, or exclude them.
To Include Images
You can use this filter:
Include > Type > Image
Which also looks like this on screen:
To Exclude Images
Create this filter:
Exclude > Type > Image
Which looks like this on screen:
#51: Get Backlinks With (Or Without) Nofollow Links
While the jury is out on nofollow links, you might not be. Whether you want to include, or exclude them, here’s how:
To Search Just Nofollow
You can use this filter:
Include > Type > Nofollow
Which also looks like this on screen:
To Exclude Nofollow
Create this filter:
Exclude > Type > Nofollow
Which looks like this on screen:
#52: Get Backlinks From (Or Excluding) A Specific Domain
Results from a specific domain can be worked around, too. For example if you know they’re in a partnership with someone and just want to boycott those links (or to get a closer look).
This filter will include the specific domain, but you need to make sure you have an exact match:
Include > Referring Domain > Exactly Matching > [Domain]
Exclude > Referring Domain > Exactly Matching > [Domain]
Which looks like this on screen:
#53: Get Backlinks From A Specific Suffix (.com — .net etc.)
Want to filter out to the specifics of a suffix? That’s easy done…
Set up this filter to include:
Include > Zone > [Suffix]
Exclude > Zone > [Suffix]
Which looks like this in the tool:
This Section In Short
Wow, okay. Putting this section as a short was hard work. So, look at it instead as a This Section In Not-Quite-As-Long instead.
The SEMRush Link Building tools are a clear vision into one of your competitors most important ranking factor.
You can see, almost in real time, the links that they’re building, the links that matter and how you can compete with even the most well established competitors for your search terms.
Here’s a simple process you can follow to get the most valuable information from these tools:
Conduct A Domain Comparison
The Domain Comparison tools lets you compare five domains at once. Or, as I’d recommend, you can compare yourself against up to four competitors at once.
Follow this pathway to bring up the tool:
Backlinks > Backlink Comparison
Here you can enter the domain for the competitors you identified earlier in the article, or the paid competitors you’ll learn about in the next section. By doing so, you can get a complete idea of:
- How you compare to your competition
- The types of links you need to focus on to compete
Because this comparison image shows you, in beautiful colour, all the information you need:
Now, once you understand how you stack up, you can start to look at what you competitors are doing individually and where their weak spots are.
Check Individual Backlink Profiles
From the comparison page click the number of Backlinks that the site has and this will take you to their backlink profile.
Here you can begin to identify their link building campaigns and where they’re finding links from. To both target for yourself, and create different ideas for your own campaigns.
You can identify different partnerships or Personal Blog Networks that your competitor has, also. By looking at how many sites are linking at them, and how often, you can see who they have a good relationship with.
The less diverse the link profile (big number of links, small number of referring domains) can show you what their strategies are and who they’re getting their links from. For example, whether they’re coming naturally, or if they’re a forced effort.
You can wash, rinse and repeat this with subdomains and subfolders as well. Allowing you to get a 360 degree view of the links your working against.
Find Backlinks To Specific Pieces Of Content
Once you have an idea of their areas of a site that are getting the most links, you can start looking at each specific piece of content and find out what sort of links they’re getting. Are there:
- Any niches you’ve overlooked?
- Any sites you could obtain links from?
- Any pieces of content you feel would be benefit from linking to you instead?
This process can be tedious, but it’s important to conduct so you can start building a more effective backlink profile for yourself.
When you’re conducting this research be sure to search the piece of content with this http:// like this:
So that SEMRush can focus on the specific piece of content.
Up Your Advertising Game In Minutes
According to SEMRush this is one of their most underused tools. And, that’s a real shame, because the information you get here can save you: time, money and energy.
Heck, if you use the tool right it can save you a whole copywriting budget too.
#54: Find Your Paid Search Competition
You’ve already learned who your organic search competition is in this article, so now it’s time to find your paid competition.
These competitors may be the same in your niche, or they may be completely different, which is why conducting this research is important.
To access your competition, follow this process:
Domain Analytics > View Entire Menu > Advertising > Competition
Now you can add your domain into the search field at the top of the page.
I was going to show you this for my blog, but in all honesty, there’s no data for paid search between me and my competition. So, instead, I’m going to do this for a tool we all know, Spotify.
Entering your information will bring up all of your main, and peripheral, paid search competition. You can see:
- How many keywords you’re in competition for
- How much competition they are (in order)
- How much traffic is driven as a result
- How much their ad spend is
That looks a little like this:
You will probably find a lot more competition here than you did with the organic search; and there will be some variation on who those competitors are, too.
Export that information so you have it to hand, it’s going to come in handy over the next few steps.
#55: See Your Competitor’s Current Google Ads
From the big list of competitors SEMRush has generated, go ahead and click on on one of them.
That’ll take you straight through to their domain overview:
Scroll down the page and find the section titled, Sample Ads (pictured above).
This is a live-updated stream of the ads they’re running right now.
What you’re going to do is get a look at the complete spread of their adverts, though. Click on the View Full Report option and you’ll get to see a breakdown of their ads running right now:
Why do you want to see this?
Firstly, as you’ll see in an upcoming step, you can dissect the advertising copy that they’re using to convert.
Secondly, you can look at the relevant ads to you — chances are they’re targeting audiences and subjects other than just yours — and compare the landing page copy.
For example, Pandora are in direct competition with Spotify over terms like Free Music, so you could compare the landing pages for Pandora and Spotify over that term.
Although, Spotify wins here, because Pandora isn’t available in my country:
Thirdly, you can get another set of keyword ideas, which we’ll talk about now…
#56: Get Brand New Keyword Ideas
There are a few ways to do this, but I like doing it through these Sample ads because you can see what’s being done in real time from your competitors.
Choose one of the Ads that is relevant to you — relevancy is key — and select the drop down menu. Here you can see an amazing amount of other, long tail, keywords that you can use for your ad campaigns:
Not all of these will be a perfect fit, but they’re a great insight into other keywords that will fit your content and product. Or, to deeper understand what else your audience is searching for.
I’d have never have known that there was a market , or even a keyword, for Oldies but Goodies love songs without doing that.
Go through these ads and keep track of the keywords that pop up, and their volumes, there could be a super-targeted goldmine just waiting to be found.
#57: Create Epic Headlines And Copy
At it’s heart, copywriting is testing. But why test what works, and what doesn’t, when you have the answers right in front of you.
Stay on the page you’ve been looking at and take a close look at what your competition have been writing on them. This could be a real game changer in making your ads convert.
When you think of great headlines you probably throw your mind to the likes of: UpWorthy, Buzzfeed, Lifehacker and other sites who know how to write headlines that tug on your heartstrings.
But, for your ad copy that might not be the case.
Take a look at the comparison of these ads from Pandora and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Notice how these pieces of copy are direct and straight to the point.
They also focus on the intent of the searcher and what they’re looking for. There’s nothing fancy about them, they’re not emotional, they just help the reader solve their problem.
Performing this analysis will help you create adverts that fit your desired audience, and the niche you’re in. Not everything needs to be, “This Man Clicked Here For Classical Music, What Happens Next Will Stun You…”.
#58: Save Money And Time With PPC Tracking
Strike while the iron is hot is one of the best pieces of advertising advice I can give you. And, the position changes feature on the Adverts toolkit let’s you do just that.
PPC is like a living organism: it changes, grows, starts and stops all the time. No two days are the same for it. So, tracking your competition lets you find when the perfect time to run your adverts is.
For example, when you find an change in their advertising habits, such as reducing their spend while they get ready to launch new content, you can run your adverts and get more exposure for less competition.
With your competitions URL in the search bar, follow this pathway:
Advertising > Position Changes
That’ll show you the data of your competitors advertising habits:
This table can be a little confusing so let me break it down for you.
The blue bars represent new keywords that your competition is using.
This can be them trying to promote new content, running new long tail keywords, targeting a different section of their audience, or just launching a new campaign.
These are normally getting peak visibility and have good position rankings.
The red shows keywords that are losing visibility. They’ve got less exposure, and aren’t getting any attention from searchers. These are the keywords you want to identify and launch your ads against.
This allows you to get exposure and sell in a marketplace that reduces the money you spend, increase your click through rates and get a tonne more traffic.
To implement this takes a little more research though, so let’s go through it…
Go ahead and click the Lost tab above the bar graph. This will update the table beneath the graph to show all the keywords your competitor is losing ground on:
This table is good in itself, but we’re going to go ahead and do one better by clicking the Pos. tab until it shows up with the lowest ranking results first, like so:
These are all the lowest ranking, easy to compete with, keywords that you can focus on right now. From that list above:
- Classical music free
- 80s radio station
Are all great places to focus. They have good volume, reasonable cost per click and I can outrank them pretty easily with the right budget. Making sure no more is spent than needs to be.
You can run this with a few of your competitors and find the intersection of your budget, and their losses, to build a well timed ad campaign that converts.
#59: Find Tried, Tested And Profitable Keyword Options
The final note on Advertising goes right to the core of SEMRush, saving you time and money and wasted effort. Because you’re about to find out how to save hours on paid keyword research.
Go ahead and open up the Ad Histories tab through this process, with your competitor’s name in the:
Advertising > Ad Histories
At first glance this is just a big table of blue boxes so let me break it down for you. On this table are all of the keywords your competition has been bidding on, month by month.
If the table is completely blue for a year — or for a specific season of the year, like Christmas Time — you can be pretty sure that’s a profitable keyword worth taking notice of and targeting yourself.
But keywords aren’t the only reason to be here. In fact you can find tried and tested advertising copy here that you can steal, too.
Take a look at this copy for the music on computer free keyword. Between June and October they ran tests on different ad copy, before finally settling on this copy:
Then, after a few months, they tested it again with the word free at the end. And it mustn’t have converted well, because they went right back to their old copy again:
This can be a great insight into what you need to write to get conversions in your niche. Look at all the different ads, and the tests they’re run, then create your own ads from their results. Winner.
This Section In Short
The SEMRush advertising tools are underrated, and it’s a shame, because you can save a tonne of time and money by dissecting the information they give you.
In this short section I’ll show you a simple method to get everything you need here…
Identify Your Competition
First you need to know who you’re up against in paid search. This will be slightly different to who you’re usually competing with in organic search.
To do this search your domain and follow:
Domain Analytics > View Entire Menu > Advertising > Competition
This will bring up an entire list of your competitors for you to look over.
See The Ads They’re Running
Click on any of the competitors on the bar graph and you’ll be taken to a breakdown of their paid performance. Including a live-update of the ads that they’re running.
Now, you may not think this is great information, they’re just ads, right? But in fact, they’re a great window into how you can improve your ads while saving time and money.
From this page, view the full report of ads, and pay close attention to this screen:
You’ll find out why, now…
Find More Keyword Ideas
Firstly you can see all the keywords associated with their ads This will give you a deeper insight into keywords you can use. Click on the ads that fit your content and check out the whole list below:
You can add all of these to your keyword strategies — and check their difficulty — to add to your ad campaigns, or your organic search content.
Create Better Ads
Each of these ads is also an insight into the:
- Landing pages
That work for your competition, as well. You can use this ads to see how your own stack up.
- Are you using enough emotion?
- Is it better to be direct, or indirect?
- Is it better to sell straight away, or get them to a landing page first?
- Does your landing page come close to theirs?
Save Time On Testing
Once you’ve syphoned enough information from there, head to the Ad Histories section on the side bar. That’ll show you a screen like this:
The first piece of information you can take is which of their keywords is profitable; chances are if the whole calendar is blue, they’ve been bidding on them, and this is a profitable keyword for them.
Secondly, click on the ads and look for variations in the copy they’ve written, like this:
This shows you when they’ve run tests, and which copy has performed the best, because they’ve either stuck with it, or returned back to it after a test.
Copying and improving on their copywriting can save you a lot of time (and money) on testing your own ads.
Make A Splash On Social Media
SEMRush have given their Social Media tools a complete re-do.
They’ve improved, tinkered and changed with everything to make a more streamlined, informative tool that’s easy to understand, use and track your social media growth.
While the tool isn’t like a Buffer tool that enables you to: post, schedule and facilitate social media interactions, what it does do is just as important.
- Track social media growth through: likes, follows and post engagements
- Get insight into the most effective time to post
- Compare your social media performance against your competitors
- Steal the best social media posts (based on data) from the competition
I’m going to go through each stage individually with you so you can harness the true power for yourself.
Setting Up The Tool
You can get yourself set-up easily in a few steps. Head through this process to access the tool and set up all the right information:
Projects > Your Site > Social Media
You can link all of the accounts you want to track and grow your brand with in just a few moments — I won’t teach you to suck eggs here — so join me in the next step when that’s all done.
#60: Track Your Social Media Growth
These are the metrics that really get you going, right? Well here they are for you, beautifully laid out, in all their glory.
Once your information is entered, the overview screen will show you all of your data, like this:
Here you can see:
- Your Audience: Your total audience for each platform and whether it’s growing, the same, or getting smaller.
- Activity: Your average activity on your social media content and whether it’s better, worse or the same.
- Engagement: Your audiences activity of: commenting, liking, or otherwise interacting with your posts.
This will also show you which is your best, worst and all of the platforms in between.
All of this data is week-to-week, so you can track all of this in specific detail through the past. You can filter it to show you two, seven, 30, 60, 90 or a specific period of days by selecting the dates.
This is the easiest way to see your results in real time. But, you can get even more in depth and see real growth in action in the forms of graphs and charts.
These graphs are a little more informative and you can see how consistent your growth is. It also allows you to track what has worked and what hasn’t over longer periods of time.
For example you can see my growth over the long term on Facebook and Twitter:
The same data is available in chart form for your engagement growth, on the next tab, which shows that I’m currently under performing on Facebook:
By monitoring these though you can pay attention to correlations between how you engage, how often you post and how well you grow.
Okay, that’s the tracking for your site. But it’s also possible to see how you perform against your competitors.
#61: See Your Performance Against Competitors
If you’re brand new to this page it should show you a ‘Create Competitors’ box at the bottom.
However, if you’ve tinkered here before, you can set up the competitors through the settings cog on the same page here:
When you’re setting them up you need to put in your competitor’s business domain and not the domain of their social media account.
This will give you all of their connected accounts (if http://www. Doesn’t work, try it as just http://[businessname].com):
Add all the competitors you need and hit update. Now, you’ll be able to see how you perform against all of your competitors on every platform. As you can see, Majestic apparently had a really good day on YouTube yesterday:
You can track all of these measurements in the same way you would for your own site: activity, engagement and audience.
#62: Finding When And What To Post
At the end of the list of tabs you’ve just cycled there is the Activity tab. Go ahead and click on it.
That’ll bring you to a page that shows you your recent posts and their engagement:
I’m going to suggest you open this out to the last 30 days or more, especially if this is your first time playing with the tool. Now you can see your top performing posts for the last month.
And, while on the surface this may not seem much, it’s quite the insight.
On a notepad — or digitally if you’re so inclined — create a little table that says: topic, timing, likes and comments.
Now go through your top performing content of the last month. Open them up in Facebook, or the platform you’re performing well on, and take notes on all of the above.
For example if I open up my top performing post I have:
I can see the data for all of these and begin to track them. For example, from all of my top posts I could find that:
- Posts between 1am and 6am GMT perform well
- Income reports on average get the most likes
- BUT tutorial and How To’s give the best results across the board
It’s basic, but it allows me to focus my social media efforts more and more effectively. Especially in conjunction with other data I have on the topic.
You can get extremely in depth with this topic too. You can look at:
- Copywriting: Length, tone of voice and hashtags.
- Images: Which images you use (if any) stimulate the most engagement.
- Article Introductions: Which ones keep the reader on page and give the best return.
And about one thousand other variations that all fit your site and niche.
Oh, but wait, it’s not over yet…
#63: Steal The Competition’s Most Effective Posts
I got you to set up your competition a minute ago and I’ve kinda saved the best until last. Because now you get to steal what works well for your competition and take advantage of it for yourself.
On the same page go back to the top and select the companies drop down menu:
Here you can choose other companies and see, straight away, what’s working for them and getting engagement.
For example if I bring up Majestic I can see:
Their engagement isn’t as good as mine — Go me! — but I can still see what they’re doing well and adapt it. Their best performing post was a personal share about one of their team members and real life outside of the office.
So, I checked this against my own personal posts…
Not a bad results, right?
You can take all the same data from their posts that you did for your own and cash in on what you can do to get real leverage on the social media market.
This Step In Short
The SEMRush social media tool is next level in tracking your social media statistics in real time, with tangible data you can apply. In order to hone your strategy further, here’s the steps you need to take…
#1: Track Your Statistics
Enter your details in the overview section. This will present you with all the stats you need to track your growth well into the future.
#2: Compare Against The Competition
Secondly, set up the data for your competitors. You’ll see this option straight away if it’s your first time on the tool; or you can do it through the ‘Manage Your Competitors’ option on the drop menu through the settings cog icon.
Remember to enter the business URL of your competition and not the one for their social media account.
#3: Analyse: When, Where And What To Post
Under the activity tab take a look at all of your posts across your different platforms. Find what is performing well and track:
- The time and day
- The content posted (style, topic, length)
- The interactions (likes, comments, retweets, shares etc.)
This will give you an actionable insight to streamline and adjust your social media strategy accordingly.
#4: Steal From Your Competition
Once you’ve seen what’s working for you, see how you can improve it by stealing the data from your competition.
Take the same Activity tab and swap the site being analysed from yours to one of your competitors that you set up before.
You’ll be able to see the most impactful posts, the copywriting and timings that work for them, as well as see which content is worth skyscrapering for your own gain. Winner, right?
Other Useful SEMRush Tools
Some of the essential SEMRush tools were hard to find an exact home for in the other sections. But, they still need to be paid attention to, which is why they’re here.
Below you’ll find out how to maximise Mobile, use SEOQuake and get a sneak-peek at some brand new tools that have not been released to the general public (yet).
You’re well and truly in the throws of Mobilegeddon. But there are some sites — your own and your competitors — that still aren’t equipped.
Now’s your time to find those pages and exploit them. Or, use them to get yourself a new SEO client along the way. The choice is yours!
Here’s how SEMRush can equip you for mobile SEO…
#63: Mobile Data
For every piece of research you conduct, you can find the mobile equivalent. You can see:
- The difference in ranking
- The difference in keywords
- The different in mobile friendly results
This doesn’t take any extra effort, either. All you have to do is select the Mobile tab at the top of the page, beneath the country selection.
You can export all of this in the same way too, so you can compare the differences between your own — or competitors — desktop and mobile rankings.
#64: Find Not-Mobile-Friendly Domain Pages
This is really simple to do. Head to the domain overview page and enter the domain of your site or your competition. I’ve done this for Monitor Backlinks again.
Click the Mobile tab and it will give you a little colour wheel that looks like this:
From there you can click on the mobile unfriendly text and it will take you to a complete list of all the mobile unfriendly pages on their site:
SEOquake is a standalone from SEMRush, but it’s a nifty tool to have in your browser as you’re reading content and conducting research on the internet.
The Chrome/Firefox/Open Plugin can be downloaded, for free from here.
Then, when you’re looking around the internet, you can do a complete check of the site your on’s data in just one click:
Nice little tool to have around.
#66: Google Analytics Tool — Not Yet Released
I’m super excited that SEMRush have given me secret, backstage access to a new tool that hasn’t been released yet. And, to let me write about it for you.
This Google Analytics tool is effective in giving you even more data to make decisions. Take a look at this breakdown of my site:
It shows you:
- How many keywords each landing page has
- How much traffic that page — and those keywords — drive you
- How many completions that delivers for you
This data allows you to have some pretty cool insights into your site, too. For example…
This post on how to make money on Fiverr. If I click on it it shows me each keyword that drives traffic to that page and where I rank for each of them:
With this information I can see that they exact match keyword brings me the most traffic to this page, and I currently rank fifth for this.
So if I was to optimise more for this keyword I could begin to boost my traffic numbers with little effort.
It also allows me to see the bounce rates for each piece content.
Armed with this, if a page is bringing me a lot of traffic, but people are bouncing often — again like this Fiverr article — I can go through and improve that content to capture more people (and conversions).
- Could the introduction be better?
- Are there too many pop-ups or barriers to the content?
- Could I do anything to make it more relevant?
This Section In Short
This section is a collection of short sections together, so I’d highly recommend you go back and read each of them in full. But, for consistency, here’s a breakdown of the above for you:
- Mobile Tools: Use the mobile data options — usually on the top of any main results page — to compare the difference in mobile to desktop rankings. And, identify not mobile friendly pages to find competitor weak spots.
- SEOQuake: A free add on for your browser that shows you site and page information at the swift click of a button.
- Google Analytics: Understand and interpret the performance of your landing pages and keywords in conjunction of your real-time traffic data from Google themselves.
Insanely Useful Reporting Tools
This article started by looking at how you can improve your site. And, it’s going to end with how you can track and measure that improvement, too.
Because, if you’re not measuring your progress, what are you doing working as a marketer?
#67: Create Professional Reports In Just A Few Clicks
Go ahead and click the My Reports section on the side bar. That’ll bring you to a fresh screen like this:
Hit the New Report button in the top corner, which will take you to this superb drag and drop screen:
Here you can create personalised reports, with endless information, for your team or clients or even your slightly interested friends. They look perfectly professional and take seconds to create.
Just choose the segments you want and drag and drop them into the report:
They won’t show up as results in the initial stage, but when you create the report through Generate PDF Report button the data will be there.
#68: Get Monthly Email Reports
As a standard part of your account you’ll get monthly, updated email reports about your progress for specific keywords and ranking data.
For example, while I’ve been writing this article, I’ve been getting updates that look like this:
They show you the performance of your site, time and time again, so you can constantly be in the loop of how your tactics are working.
If you’re not seeing any changes, it’s time to reassess your strategy. If you’re seeing excellent changes, find out why and replicate the process again and again. Simple.
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