More in this section: Best SEO Tools | Best Marketing Tools

Name: SEMRush – SEO Super Tool

Price: £75 (USD$99.95) a month for Pro plan; £149 (USD$199.95) a month for Guru plan; £298 (USD$399.95) a month for Business plan.

Annual price (for comparison): £894 (USD$1199.40) upwards (discounts available if you pay annually)

Type: SEO keyword tracking; keyword research; competitor research and monitoring; CPC research; social media monitoring; brand monitoring; backlink checker… etc. etc.

Optimisey gets: 40% of each payment you make.

If you can only afford to invest in one SEO tool better make it a good one, right?

SEMrush is Optimsey‘s tool of choice. It’s a real SEO Swiss army knife:

  • Need to do keyword research ? ✓
  • Want to track your rankings? ✓
  • Curious about your competitors? ✓
  • Want to monitor your social media? ✓
  • Doing PPC research? ✓
  • Building or vetting backlinks? ✓

SEMrush does all of those and a whole lot more. Plus their team are actively building new tools all the time.

A recent example is their Gap Analysis tool. Pop in the URLs of your key competitors and SEMrush will tell you which keywords and which backlinks they have which you don’t. Ingenious and a real time saver.

It’s not cheap but you really do get what you pay for.

Still – it’s a big ticket item, I get that – so with Optimisey you can get a free 7-day trial (no commitments) to take it for a spin and try it on for size.

Feeling more confident but still want to ‘try before you buy’? You can get a free two week SEMrush trial using that link – but you will need to enter payment details (and therefore remember to cancel if you don’t want to pay beyond the trial).

SEMrush Free trial

Set aside some time and take up the freebie. Even if you just dig in to one feature (like keywords or the audit) you’ll get a tonne of valuable, traffic-increasing, ranking improving pointers that will make the monthly fee seem like a great investment.

If you’re not blown away by it’s power and potential in that first week (or two!), fair enough. I’m pretty confident you will be.

Try SEMrush Free

A word of warning: You will need to give your credit card details to get the free trial.

There used to be a way to get the trial without a credit card – but that doesn’t work any more. Effectively you have to sign-up and remember to cancel after your free 7 days – otherwise you will be charged.

How do I use SEMrush?

I use SEMrush extensively in my day job and on SEO projects I do through Optimisey.


You can configure “Projects” which will track myriad things for you:

  • Position Tracking: covers keywords you want to monitor: Where do I rank for ‘x’? Do my competitors outrank me for ‘x’? etc.
  • Site health: SEMrush keeps a weather eye on your site and gives it a ‘health score’ percentage. It’ll find issues with your site before you even notice them from missing meta descriptions to broken internal links and more. It even categorises them by: Errors; Warnings; Notices – so you know what to prioritise.
  • Backlink monitor: checks the links to your site from other sites – it also reports on their trustworthiness and flags up those which it thinks might be a problem or risk manual penalties etc.
  • Social Media Tracker: as the name suggests plugs-in to your social accounts and tracks followers, engagement, top posts etc. Coupled with the Poster tool (where I can schedule Tweets, Facebook posts etc.) it negates the need for me to pay out for a separate social tracking tool saving me money.
  • On page SEO Checker: gives analysis and advice on how existing pages might be optimised to get more traffic. Using it helped me spot terms that my blog posts could rank for but that I had neglected to cover (or cover fully) – a few tweaks later and boom, more traffic.

Those are just the elements I use regularly. A feature I love is that you can set them to refresh and update themselves on a regular cycle. You don’t have to remember to set it running once a week – schedule it and it’ll scurry off and check your backlinks once a week; your keyword rankings daily; your site health weekly etc.

There are lots more features within Projects too:

  • Link building – get SEMrush to do the heavy lifting for you with finding target sites that could/should link to you. You can even hook this in to your email account to make outreach even easier.
  • PPC Keyword Tool and Ad Builder are terrific if you do a lot of PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. I don’t – but using these you can get data and analysis to inform your ad builds, design, target keywords and more.
  • Brand Monitoring is something I’ve dabbled with. You can use it to track mentions of your brand or key terms to keep an eye on any competitors or publishers that you might want to work with.

Take me there

More SEMrush Features

There’s much more outside Projects too.

Domain Analytics

Put any website address (yes yours, but also your competitors’!) into the domain analytics tool and watch it whirr into life returning with data on:

  • Keywords that domain ranks for (and an estimate of how much traffic those keywords bring)
  • How much paid traffic the site gets
  • Number of backlinks the site has (including how many from different domains and IPs)
    • A breakdown of how many of those backlinks are follow vs. nofollow
    • Top anchors (e.g. the text used to link to the site like “click here”!)
  • Stats on any display advertising the site does (yes, you can spy on all your competitors ads!)
  • Where their organic traffic comes from, geographically (do they get more traffic from the UK or US?)
    • Same for their paid traffic – are they running paid ads to build up a new audience in a new market?
  • A chart showing their traffic ballparks over time (are they improving or declining?)
    • Split by Organic/Paid too (are they paying to plug any audience dips?)
  • More keyword analysis (where they rank for each term; what the monthly search volume is for that term; CPC prices for that term etc.)
  • Ranking distribution – e.g. how many keywords they rank in the top 10 for, how many in the top 20, top 30 etc.
  • Main competitors – based on keywords they rank for which sites are their main competitors? (useful for finding rivals you didn’t even know you had; or upcoming new competition)

And a whole load more. And that’s just the Dashboard! For each of those elements you can dig in to more detail.

How many backlinks does the site get from high authority sites? How many from local sites? What terms are they being linked to with? Which pages are earning all those links?

The list goes on (and on).

Try it for yourself. You can get an insight into the power of this toolset even with a free account – stick a domain in here and hit the big green magnifying glass:

Seen enough? Want a full blown, free trial yourself?

Try it Free

Keyword Analytics

There’s more.

Put a keyword or phrase into the Keyword Analytics tool and you can draw on SEMrush’s extensive database of keyword data – gathered from 130 countries.

Again, even just the dashboard for a given keyword will show you:

  • Monthly search volumes (how many people search for that term, in your chosen country each month)
  • Number of results (how many results Google returns for that term)
  • CPC data for that search term (costs and competition)
  • Trend data (which month of the year sees the peak for searches for that term?)
  • Phrase match keywords (keywords that match or contain the target phrase e.g. for “SEO Cambridge” it matches to “SEO Cambridge” and “Cambridge SEO” and “SEO services Cambridge”
  • Related keywords as the name suggests, so for “SEO Cambridge” it shows all of the above plus “Marketing agencies in Cambridge” and “Digital Marketing Cambridge” etc.
  • Organic search results – snapshots of the SERPs (search engine results pages) showing which sites are ranking and where for that term
  • Ad Copies snapshots of the ads showing in SERPs for that term
    • Plus a chart showing, month-by-month, how many ads appeared in the SERPs

And again, that’s just the dashboard – each of those reports leads into a more in-depth drilldown showing more results, more related keywords, more SERPs (page 2, 3 of the results etc.)

Again, you can give it a whirl for free. Got a keyword you’d like your site to rank for? Type it in here and see who is ranking for it:

Or just go ahead and get your free one week trial:

Get My Free Trial