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Semrush Tutorial & Guide 2024: How to Use Semrush for SEO

Semrush Tutorial and Guide: How to Use Semrush for SEO
Table of Contents

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. i.e., if you sign up for their paid programs, I will get a commission, at no cost to you. Please rest assured that I only recommend software/ products I genuinely believe in, and trust to be good for you.

If you have ever Googled ‘seo tools’ because you want to know how they help your SEO, you have most definitely heard of Semrush.

Curious to know more about this SEO tool and how it can improve your website traffic and Google rank?

In this detailed Semrush tutorial and guide, I will show you how to use Semrush for SEO and get the most out of this powerful tool.

This post will cover:

  • The key features of Semrush and how they can benefit your business
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to use Semrush to improve your SEO
  • Pricing, pros and cons, free trial coupon codes
  • My review and what I love most about this tool
  • Lots more!

P.S.  Semrush provides a LOT of data. I will only focus on the most important metrics of website performance.

This tutorial can count as both a Semrush beginner’s guide and an intermediate user’s guide to help you use Semrush for SEO.

Are you ready to learn it all? Let’s get started!

Semrush Tutorial & Guide


This Semrush tutorial includes detailed step-by-step explanations. You will be able to follow these best if you have an existing Semrush subscription.

If you don’t have one now, get an exclusive 14-day free trial to try out Semrush. It is the same as using a Pro plan free for a month, saving you $65.

Full disclosure: I am an extensive Semrush user. I have at least 3 tabs of Semrush open when I work on my SEO and content marketing 😉 That is why I can cover this tutorial in a lot of detail.

Semrush Tutorial 2023: A Complete Guide on How to Use Semrush for SEO #seotools #smallbusinessseo Share on X

Chapter 1.

Introduction to Semrush

If you are just getting started with Semrush, use this Semrush tutorial to understand the fundamentals of what Semrush is and how it works.

What is Semrush?

Semrush is a powerful online marketing suite that helps you improve website performance with tools for search engine optimization, social media, advertising, content marketing, market research, and much more.

It is especially one of the best tools for SEO that helps you to get your website seen and get the maximum benefits of organic traffic.

Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop for all things SEO that can help you create a customized SEO strategy for your business and take your website’s traffic and search engine rankings to the next level.

Read my complete overview of Semrush

Who uses Semrush?

Semrush is used mostly by small and medium-sized businesses (83% of users) for improving their SEO.

It is used mainly by businesses, freelancers, bloggers, and marketers who want insights and suggestions on how to optimize their websites.

How does Semrush get its data?

Semrush crawls your website with the Semrushbot, uses its own algorithms, and also third-party tools to collect data from Google.

It then presents this data in a user-friendly interface to provide users with insights into their website’s organic search performance.

Is Semrush a superior SEO tool?

Semrush is one of the best and most powerful SEO tools used by big brands like Tesla, Quora, Samsung, Walmart, and Forbes.

  • Its keyword database is the biggest, covering over 20 billion keywords. This means that you can find keywords that would be relatively easy to rank for in high positions
  • Its backlink database with over 21 trillion backlinks is also the biggest compared to other prominent SEO tools. This means that you can find plenty of link-building opportunities.

Almost 500,000 people across the world use Semrush and more than 7 million users have already tried the tool.

So if you are looking for an SEO tool that can significantly help you boost your SEO, Semrush is definitely one of the best choices.

What are the key Semrush features and how do they work?

Semrush divides its 55+ features into what it calls toolkits. These are the different toolkits it offers:

  • SEO
  • Local SEO
  • Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Content Marketing
  • .Trends
  • Agency Solutions

In this Semrush tutorial we will focus on the SEO toolkit which consists of these key tools:

  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Link Building
  • On-page & Tech SEO

I will also briefly touch upon other toolkits like the Content Marketing and Local SEO one, but won’t cover them in detail.

I (and my OCD self ;)) love the categorization of these features because it makes the purpose of every tool very clear.

Besides, to win in SEO, especially if you are not an SEO expert, these are the tools you will need the most.

Ready to start digging into the features and see how they work? Start with a 14-day trial of Semrush Pro.

How to use Semrush to improve SEO?

You can use the SEO tools of Semrush to analyze competitors, find the right keywords to rank higher on search engine result pages, keep track of your website performance, monitor your site health, and more.

In this detailed Semrush guide, you will learn how to:

  • Find low-competition keywords
  • Beat your competitor’s SERP positions
  • Identity link-building opportunities
  • Monitor your website’s backlinks
  • Improve your website’s content and technical performance
  • Find new content ideas relevant to your niche

To get started, sign up for a free semrush account. Next, add your website and choose the type of project that best fits what you’re trying to achieve. Once your project is set up, start exploring the tools Semrush offers.

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An SEO suite with 50+ features to help you improve your website SEO and rank higher in Google. Includes tools for keyword research, competitor research, content marketing, and more. 

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* The regular trial period is 7 days. This is a special offer with Ignite that can be activated only by clicking the link above. 

Chapter 2.

Getting started with Semrush

Projects: Measure progress

Let’s start this Semrush tutorial by understanding a key aspect of Semrush: Projects.

Projects are essentially domains that you want to track the performance of over time. You can set up both your own or your competitor’s site as projects.

Semrush Projects

If you want to work on your SEO, you want to see whether your efforts are paying off.

So at the very onset of starting Semrush, set up your website as a project.

Semrush Own Project

Semrush SEO features for which you can set up a domain as a project:

  • Position Tracking
  • Site Audit
  • On-Page SEO Checker
  • Backlink Audit
  • Organic Traffic Insights
  • Link Building Tool

You can also set up the following tracking, but we won’t cover them in this Semrush tutorial.

  • Brand Monitoring
  • PPC Keyword Tool
  • Social Media Tracker
  • Social Media Poster
  • Content Analyzer

When you set up your domain as a project, you will see this screen.

Semrush Project Set Up

But since this is a Semrush tutorial, you can ignore this screen for now. We will set these up when we go through the tools.


The only feature for which you can’t set up a competitor as a project is Organic Traffic Insights because you need to connect it to your Google account that you use to access Google Analytics for the domain.

When you set up a domain you don’t have access to, so like a competitor, as a project, you will immediately see an overview on your dashboard.

I set up the site theculturetip, one of my favorite travel websites.

Semrush Competitor Project

We will also just leave it here and go through each tool in this Semrush tutorial to find different ways to track competitor performance.

Chapter 3.

Keyword Research

How to find the best keywords for your business

I will start this Semrush tutorial with Keyword Research because it is one of the most essential aspects of any SEO strategy or campaign.

Your objective is to find the keywords that will help you rank better on Google, so let’s see how to do that!

What you can do with the Semrush Keyword Research Toolkit:

  • Know which keywords are bringing you maximum traffic, so you can optimize them further
  • Find new keywords to target that have high chances of improving your website’s rankings
  • Track your rankings and get suggestions on how to improve them
  • Identify separate keywords for blog content and commercial pages

If you see the Keyword Research menu on the left of your Semrush dashboard, you see these features:

Semrush Keyword Research Dashboard

Let’s explore these key features.

Keyword Overview

The Keyword Overview provides a snapshot of the keyword potential and the SERP landscape for a given keyword. You can use this information to determine which keywords are worth targeting and how difficult they will be to rank for.

In this Semrush tutorial for keyword research, I am going to show you how you can start with a general seed keyword and end up finding a high-potential long-tail keyword.

Just start by entering a seed keyword.

This can be a broad term related to your business, such as ‘shoes’ or ‘travel’.

Taking the theme of travel, I enter for example, ‘weekend getaways’.

Semrush Keyword Research

Once you have entered a seed keyword, Semrush will generate an overview of all metrics related to it.

The key metrics to look for in this overview are:

1. Monthly search volume (global and by country): The average number of times this keyword is searched for in a month.

2. Keyword Difficulty: A measure of how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword in an organic search.

3. Intent: The purpose behind a user’s search, or what they are hoping to achieve by typing in a particular query. Search intent can be divided into four main categories: navigational, informational, commercial, and transactional.

Semrush Keyword Overview

In this example, the search volume and difficulty are both very high, making it a difficult keyword to rank for.

The intent is both informational and commercial. This means that people searching for this keyword could be simply looking for ideas on where to go for the weekend or searching for vacations to book.

The Keyword Overview also shows you the CPC (cost per click) which is a metric of paid traffic.

In the 2nd part of the overview, you see Keyword Variations and Related Keywords, which lead you to the Keyword Magic Tool. More on that later.

As you scroll down in the Keyword Overview, you see the SERP or the Search Engine Results Pages. This includes all the pages that rank for this particular keyword.

Semrush Keyword Overview SERP

Next to each URL that ranks, you can see a lot of data about that page:

  • Referring Domains: The number of domains linking to the page
  • Backlinks: The number of links pointing to the URL
  • Search Traffic: The volume of organic traffic the page receives monthly
  • URL Keywords: Other keywords that the page also ranks for, besides the seed keyword

This data gives you an idea about the quality of the pages that rank for the keyword.

For example, in this search of ‘weekend getaways’, you see the top 10 pages belong to very high-ranking sites and quality pages. So this reinforces the initial conclusion that this keyword may be difficult to rank for. If you are a travel website, you should look at other keywords that may be easier to rank for in the top 10.

If you want to see the exact Google page, click on View SERP.

Semrush Keyword Overview SERP Details

Then you get a snapshot of the actual page to check for featured snippets, etc.

Semrush Keyword Overview View SERP

Keyword Magic Tool

Chances are that your seed keyword in any industry will be quite difficult to rank for, like ‘weekend getaways’, as we saw above. That’s why you need to find other keywords, possibly long-tail, to target with your blog posts.

That’s where the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool comes in. You can find hundreds or even thousands of related keywords, and filter them down to what you need.

The Keyword Magic Tool allows you to input a seed keyword and receive a list of semantically related keywords. For example, if you input the seed keyword “shoes,” the tool will return a list of related keywords such as “sandals,” “flats,” and “boots.”

Don’t forget to include your related keywords in the content brief for your content writers, and use them in your content outline as well.

Pro Tip:

To follow the results best and all the searches I do in the next step, it will be best to follow along by actually doing it.

Start your 14-day free trial to get the best keywords without paying $65.

Just click on Keyword Variations or Related Keywords from your seed keyword search and see the results that show up.

Here are the results from my search for ‘weekend getaways’.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool 1

The results are sorted into two different groups:

1. Type of Keyword

The keyword phrases are basically of two kinds.

  • All: All keywords related to the seed keyword
  • Questions: Only question-type keywords related to the seed keyword. These are very useful for informational-type content like ‘how-to’ posts.

2. Type of match to the original keyword.

The type of match is further divided into 4 tabs:

  • Broad Match: Includes all the keyword variations of the seed keyword, which is ‘weekend getaways’
  • Phrase Match: Includes all the words of your seed keyword in various orders (e.g. ‘getaway for the weekend’)
  • Exact Match: Shows all keywords that include your seed keyword in the exact order (e.g. ‘weekend getaways in nyc’)
  • Related: Semantic keywords, which are keywords related to the seed keyword but may not contain those exact words

You can find the type of match with all keywords or only question-type keywords.

In other words, you can click on Questions and Related, and you can get content ideas that are related to the seed keyword (like ‘weekend getaways’) but are very different from it. For example, ‘where to go this week’.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool 2

You can also click on the left section to get specific keywords about a certain topic.

For example, if you click on couples, you get keyword ideas related to ‘weekend getaways for couples’.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool semtantic long-tail keywords


So you see how you start with ‘weekend getaways’ and end up with a keyword completely different.

Pro Tip:

I usually keep my searches in the Keyword Magic Tool to Broad Match and Related, to get the best long-tail keywords with the highest potential.

What I love about Semrush is that you can filter the keywords with a lot of different specifications, to get the keywords that are a perfect fit for your business.

There are various filter options, but the ones I love are:

  • By words (the menu on the left)
  • SERP Features (if that’s your target)
  • Keyword Difficulty (as low as possible, preferably below 30%)
  • Volume (at least 100)
  • Intent (Informational if I want a keyword for a blog post, commercial if I want it for a service page)

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool Filters

Now you get a list of keywords, preferably long-tail keywords, around which to develop your content.

P.S. Following this practical Semrush tutorial so far? You do have a subscription or free trial of Semrush, right? Otherwise, it may be too much to follow. Get a 14-day trial first, to use all the Semrush features for free.

Keyword Manager

The Keyword Manager tool allows you to organize, track, and manage your keywords in one place with the help of keyword lists. This feature is optional, but I find it very helpful (again, thanks to my OCD ;))

Semrush Keyword Manager

All you have to do is when you are searching for keywords and you want to explore it further, just click on the + button and add it to the list you want.

Semrush Keyword Manager Add to List

When I am doing keyword research, I create 2 kinds of lists:

Ideas: Where I save ideas for my blog posts and website pages, so I can go back and explore if they are relevant for me
Topics: A topic or specific keyword I want to rank for, and all its related and semantic keywords

See below my lists.

Semrush Keyword Manager

You can create any list that works best for you. Each list can contain up to 1000 keywords.

See my list for ‘SEO content writing’ below. My target keyword is ‘seo writing,’ but the list contains all semantic keywords I want to rank for,

You can also add all your keywords from lists to Position Tracking to monitor their performance over time.

Semrush Keyword Manager Lists

You can also ask Semrush to create a topic cluster for you by providing a seed keyword.

For example, I enter the seed keyword ‘helium balloons’, select the location as US, and click on ‘Create list’.

Semrush will generate related keywords and clusters.

create topic clusters with the Semrush Keyword Manager

Semrush has identified various keyword clusters related to “helium balloons”.

Some clusters have a label indicating “high ranking potential,” which means that Semrush’s algorithms have identified them as having a good balance of search volume and keyword difficulty (KD %).

You can also see information about the number of keywords in each cluster, like their collective search volume and keyword difficulty percentage.

Generated Keyword Clusters

You can also deep dive into each cluster by clicking on them. You can see the keyword’s intent, KD, and volume.

This helps you analyze the keywords in more detail as a part of the cluster and give you more topics for your content marketing.

Expand clusters to see individual keywords

Position Tracking

The Position Tracking tool allows you to track your organic rankings for specific keywords in Google. It is one of the most important tools I will cover in this Semrush tutorial, because SEO is a long-term game.

You have to keep analyzing and tracking your SEO efforts and tweak them whenever necessary.

You can use the Semrush Position Tracking tool to monitor your progress or to compare your rankings against those of your competitors.

You can track which types of keywords help you rank the best, and which ones you need to work more on.

To add keywords to Semrush Position Tracking, all you have to do is set up a project with your own website or that of a competitor.

1. Enter a domain name and project name

Semrush Position Tracking Add Project

If you have already set up a project in chapter 1, just click on set up.


2. Choose your search engine, device, and country.

Semrush Position Tracking select search engine and country

3. Add the keywords you want to track.

Semrush Position Tracking add keyword

Once you have set it up, these are the key metrics you can focus on:

  • The number of keywords in the top 3, top 10, top 20, and top 100
  • How many keywords improved in performance and how many declined

Semrush Position Tracking performance

Some graphs that are very helpful are:

  • Visibility: The website’s performance in Google’s top 100 for the keywords added
  • Average position: Position only based on the keywords you added in tracking
  • Estimated traffic: The amount of traffic you can expect for the upcoming period

Semrush Position Tracking Visibility Average Position Estimated Traffic

You will get a weekly report on the performance of your keywords. You can add competitors and compare your performance to theirs.

You can also add filters and see the performance at a very minute level. For example, all metrics for keywords in the top 20, because you want to know how you can push them to page 1 of Google.

Semrush Position Tracking Competitor Comparison and Filters

The other section I find very helpful here is the featured snippets, which shows opportunities for you rank in position zero of Google.


You can scroll down for details.

For instance, it shows me that for the keyword ‘messaging marketing’, I rank in position 19. But I have the potential to rank in featured snippets.

Semrush Position Tracking Featured Snippets Opportunities

So I want to see how the SERP looks like. I click View SERP, and I see the actual page.

Semrush Position Tracking Featured Snippets SERP

By analyzing the page currently ranking in position zero, and the questions in People Also Ask, I can optimize my page to show up in featured snippets.

Helpful, isn’t it?

Find ranking opportunities for your website now! Start with a free 14-day trial.

Organic Traffic Insights

The Organic Traffic Insights tool lets you see the traffic that is driven by each keyword on a site you own.

When I say a site you own, I mean a site you have access to Google Analytics for, because this tool only works if you connect it to Google Analytics.

Now if you use Google Analytics, you know that you can see there how many visitors came to your site from organic search.

But you also want to know which keywords brought them there, right?

But sometimes, frustratingly, all you can see is ‘not provided’.

Google Analytics Organic Traffic not provided data

That’s where the Organic Traffic feature comes in.

Semrush Organic Traffic Insights lets you analyze all the keywords that generated organic traffic for your website.

You just have to set up your website as a project first.

Next, it will ask you to connect it to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts that you use to track your website.

Semrush Organic Traffic Insights connect Google Account

Then you will be able to see all the keywords for every page that brought in traffic.

For instance, I see that for my post on examples of brand attributes, the keywords ‘brand attributes examples’ and ‘brand attributes’ brought in almost 70% of the organic traffic to that page.

Semrush Organic Traffic Insights which keywords bring in traffic

This data is very helpful in refining your SEO and digital content strategy, because you know which keywords to optimize further.

Besides, the integration of Organic Traffic Insights with Google Search Console helps you get a complete analysis a certain keyword and you perform for it.

The Semrush tab shows the volume, difficulty, and your SERP position for a keyword, as you see in the screenshot above. The GSC tab shows you the GSC metrics like impressions, clicks, CTR, and position.

Semrush Organic Traffic Insights Google Search Console data

I can also send these keywords to my Position Tracking list, to track their progress over time.

Chapter 4.

Competitor Research

How to analyze and beat your competitors

In this part of the Semrush tutorial, we will see how you can get insights from your competitor’s SEO performance and rank higher than them.

What you can do with the Semrush Competitor Research Toolkit:

  • Know which keywords your competitors are ranking for and how much traffic they generate, so you can optimize your website to rank higher than them
  • Find new keyword opportunities by analyzing the keywords your competitor ranks for but you don’t
  • Find your closest competitors based on the keywords you rank for
  • Identify the biggest traffic sources of your competitor to explore the potential for you too

There are 2 kinds of competitors your small business or blog may have:

  • Brand competitors: The businesses that have a similar value positioning as yours
  • SEO competitors: The websites that rank on page 1 of SERPs for the keywords you want to track

They can be the same, but sometimes they may not be. You should analyze both types, to get the most out of your SEO efforts.

The Semrush Competitor Research Tool is a powerful analytical tool that allows you to research your competitor’s online marketing strategies and track their progress over time.

You get detailed information about your competitors, including traffic statistics, organic keywords, AdWords campaigns, and more. You can also compare your own website’s performance to that of your competitors. This makes it easy to identify areas where improvement is needed.

Here’s what the dashboard looks like.

Semrush Competitor Research Dashboard

So let’s explore the different features now.

Domain Overview

In the Semrush Domain Overview, you can check the performance of any website.

To start, just enter the name of the domain you want to research.

Since we talked about travel keywords earlier, let me enter one of my favorite travel websites, The Culture Trip.

Semrush will show you many key metrics, including:

  1. Authority score
  2. Monthly organic traffic
  3. Monthly paid traffic
  4. Total backlinks
  5. Traffic distribution by country
  6. Organic traffic over time


Semrush Competitor Research Domain Overview Metrics

Pro Tip:

The authority score of a website indicates its quality.

Every SEO tool has its own way of calculating the AS (also called Domain Rating).

It is affected by factors like traffic, SERP positions, backlinks, etc.

This metric is good to know, but since it varies so much between different SEO tools, don’t get too hung up about it.

I particularly love the suggestions that Semrush generates about the possible competitors of the domain you’re analyzing, in the next section of the Domain Overview.

Then it shows you the competitive positioning map for them as well.

Semrush Competitor Research Competitive Positoning

This is how you can use the Domain Overview feature to get high-level insights about your own domain as well as your competitors.

Note: The Competitive Positioning Map is not always accurate, but it does show you some SEO competitors you hadn’t considered before.

But to create an SEO strategy for your website and rank higher than your competitors, you need to dig deeper into the comparative tools.

Want to start trying out the Competitor Research tool as you read? Get the Pro plan free for 14 days.

Traffic Analytics

Once you know the competitors of the website, you can compare their traffic sources to understand their website marketing strategy and what is working for them.

You can enter any 5 domains relevant to your business.

Pro Tip:

You can enter only one website and see the metrics, but the best way to work on Competitor Research is to compare your competitors with you and see where you can win.

Let’s enter the domain ‘theculturetrip.com’ and its key competitors as shown in the Competitive Positioning map in Traffic Analytics.

Semrush Traffic Analytics

The first data you see is almost like you peeked into their Google Analytics. You see the number of visits on every domain, average pages per visit, bounce rate, etc.

Semrush Traffic Analytics Metrics

While this data will not match the Google Analytics data completely, it gives you a comparative overview of your audience’s engagement with your website compared to that of your competitors.

You can also see their traffic sources by channel and country.

Semrush Traffic Analytics Traffic Sources

Semrush Traffic Analytics Traffic Distribution by Country

This is very useful to determine your SEO goals, such as the location and traffic channel targets.

Organic Research

The first part of the Organic Research section tells you how much traffic the website gets by country. But you get that from the Domain Overview as well, so we don’t have to cover that here.

However, there is one key metric that you see here that is not in Domain Overview: Traffic Cost.

What is traffic cost in Semrush?

The Semrush Traffic Cost or the Semrush SE traffic price is a crucial indicator of the value of the organic search traffic of a website, because it indicates how much a website would have had to spend on Google Ads to get the same amount of traffic through paid ads as gets now organically.

Semrush Organic Research Traffic Cost

So in this case, Culture Trip would have had to spend $3M in a month to get 4.3M traffic.

There are other three reports of the Semrush Organic Research feature that I especially love.

Let’s say I want to analyze a competitor site of Culture Trip: Timeout, for organic results.

1. It shows you all your competitor’s keywords.

If you click on ‘Positions’, you all the keywords, the page that ranks for the keyword, and in which positions.

Semrush Organic Research Top Keywords

It also shows you which featured snippets the page has.

You can also select some keywords that are relevant to you and add them to your keyword lists as ideas.

You can again filter the data to get more in-depth insights. For instance, which keywords and pages rank in positions 10-15.

Semrush Organic Research Search Positions Filter

2. It shows you the pages with the most organic traffic.

Semrush Organic Research Top Pages

You also see the keywords every page ranks for, and the backlinks they have. You can then compare a page here with a similar one of yours, to see how you can optimize your own page further.

If there is a page that ranks high and you don’t have a page with similar content, you create one!

3. It shows you which kind of search intent the domain primarily ranks for

Semrush Organic Research Search Intent

It also shows you how much traffic those keywords bring in.

For instance, on the site Timeout, we see that most of the organic traffic was through informational keywords, but quite close is traffic from commercial keywords.

Want to try out Organic Research for your own domain or your competitor’s? Get 14 days of Semrush Pro for free.

You can then compare this to your own site and see if you can target similar keywords to bring in more organic traffic.

This brings us to the next feature of this Semrush tutorial.

Keyword Gap

The Semrush Keyword Gap Tool allows you to quickly find and target keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you’re not. This can help you close the gap between your website and your competitors, and boost your search engine rankings.

To use the Keyword Gap Tool, simply enter the URLs of up to five of your competitors.

The tool will then show you how well you’re currently ranking for keywords compared to your competitors.

Semrush Keyword Gap

The Missing tab will show you which keywords you’re not ranking for yet.

Semrush Keyword Gap Missing Keywords

It also shows you which positions your competitors rank for that particular keyword.

And there you go! New keywords for you to target to get additional traffic. Create better content than your competitors for these keywords and rank higher!

Backlinks Gap

The Backlink Gap feature is similar to the Keyword Gap.

But instead of comparing keywords, it lets you compare your backlink profile to your competitors.

Enter the names of up to 4 competitors and you will be able to see see how many backlinks you have compared to them.

If you click on ‘Best’, it will show you kind websites are linking to your competitors and not you.

Semrush Backlink Gap

Then you can also approach them for link building, improve your backlink profile, and rank higher in search engines.

We cover this in detail in the next section.

Chapter 5.


Find more opportunities for backlinks

In the third and very important section of this Semrush tutorial, we cover backlinks, which are one of the key factors that affect your SEO. With the Semrush Link-Building toolkit, you can find plenty of opportunities for getting links.

What you can do with the link-building toolkit:

  • Analyze the number and authority of domains linking to you vs your competitors
  • Check the trend of backlink acquisition over time
  • See which website is doing better than you in link-building
  • Find new websites to approach for link building
  • Determine the best outreach strategy for each link you want to target
  • Keep an eye out for toxic backlinks

Let’s start with the features in the Link-Building dashboard.

Semrush Backlink Analytics

Backlink Analytics

The Backlink Analytics feature lets you check the backlink metrics of either one site or up to 5 competitors at the same time.

Pro Tip:

While you can use the Backlink Analytics Overview section to analyze the backlink profile of any one domain including your own, the bigger value comes in doing a comparative analysis of your backlink profile with your competitors.

You can get incredible insights here, and I will focus on that.

I usually do it in comparison, so I can find new opportunities quickly.

The most important backlink metrics shown in the first section are the number of domains and backlinks pointing to each site.

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison

The cells highlighted in green are the ones with the highest scores.

You can see, for example, Timeout has the most number of linking domains, URLs, and also monthly visits.

In the next section, you see the progress of Authority Scores of the compared domains over time, and also the number of referring domains.

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison - Referring Domains

Here you can see that Timeout has also been getting more links over the last year.

So if you are The Culture Trip website, you know you can find linking opportunities by looking more closely at Timeout analytics.

The third section shows you the backlink types and attributes.

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison - Backlink Types and Attributes

You see here that Culture Trip has a higher percentage of image links than the competitors, whereas Family Destinations Guide has mostly text links. However, it has mostly nofollow links.

To find more dofollow linking opportunities, you should look at Timeout and Planetware backlinks.

The next section shows you which type of industry websites link to all the competitors here, and it’s almost the same across industries. No great insights here, but of course, it may differ when you do your own competitor analysis for backlinks.

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison - Industries

But then you see a very interesting chart: referring domains by authority score.

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison - Domain Authority Score

While Lonely Planet does not have the highest number of links, it has the most links from high authority score websites and the least from low authority sites.

The authority score of a website that links to you has a big impact on your authority scores as well.

So if you want to find high-authority websites that might want to link to a travel website, explore the backlinks of Lonely Planet in more detail.

Now for digging deeper into one site. Let’s take Timeout.

The Backlink section of Backlink Analytics will show you all the backlinks of a website.

You can filter to see specific types of backlinks. For example:

  • Type of page that’s linking to the website: Blog article
  • Dates: Last 4 months
  • Type of link attribute: Follow
  • Type of link: Text

Semrush Backlink Analytics Competitor Comparison - Filters

This can also give you a list of potential blogs to reach out to for backlinks. You can use the filters to find the type of link opportunities that suit you best.

Backlink Audit

The main purpose of the Backlink Audit tool is to show you potentially toxic links that could be harming your site’s SEO.

You can get rid of these by either reaching out to the site owners directly or disavowing them on Google.

Just like Position Tracking, you have to set up a website as a project, and Semrush will analyze the toxicity of the links for you.

Just add the website you want to run the Backlink Audit for. In the Campaign Scope, choose both the www & non-www version.

Ignore the rest of the options and click ‘Start Backlink Audit’.

Semrush Backlink Audit Set Up

This is what the Backlink Audit Overview looks like.

Semrush Backlink Audit Overview

The Audit section will show you links that could be potentially toxic, to review.

You have two options here:

1. Move them to the Remove list

This list is for the links that you want to remove. You have to contact the site owners and ask them to remove their links to you.

2. Move them to the Disavow list

You can save the list as a txt file, upload it to Google later and ask Google to disavow the links.

Semrush Backlink Audit Remove and Disavow links


There are conflicting opinions among SEO experts about whether disavowing links is necessary.

I would definitely NOT recommend doing this exercise often. But if you have a very proportion of toxic links, you could take some action against it.

So frankly, it’s not a feature you use every day, but it helps to keep a watchful eye over your site. You have to protect your website baby from the dark world of the internet 😉

Link-Building Tool

The Semrush Link Building tool suggests to you websites you could request backlinks from.

The first step (again!) is to set your website as a project.

Add the keywords you want to rank high for, and the competitors from where you want to get ideas for building links.

Semrush Link Building Tool Set Up

I added all of my own domain details, and this is the overview I see.

Semrush Link Building Tool Prospects

When I click on prospects, I see all the website pages that could be good to get backlinks from.

You can choose all the URLs here that could be perfect for your backlink strategy, and move them to your ‘In Progress list.

When you move them to In Progress, you get a prompt to choose one out of 7 outreach strategies.

Semrush Link Building Tool Outreach Strategies

  • Manual link: Links that you can add yourself, like with blog comments, social media profiles, etc.
  • Directory/ Catalogue: Links from directories in an industry related to yours
  • Add link to article: Link from a website page or blog post
  • Product review: A review of your product by a blogger
  • Link from mention: Link from a website that’s currently mentioning you but not linking to you
  • Guest post: Link from a guest post you write
  • Recover lost backlinks: Links that you had before that you lost and you want to recover them

You can also choose to customize your outreach strategies, which are the emails you would be sending the website owners depending on your strategy.

You can save them as templates and send them one by one to every website you want a link from.

Semrush Link Building Tool Outreach Strategies Templates

You can also write every outreach email differently, and move on to the next one.

Pro Tip:

While the Semrush Link Building tool is great for finding link-building opportunities, I strongly recommend you NOT to do your actual outreach from here in a template format.

You should check out each site separately to see who the author is, connect with them first over email or social, and build a relationship, before simply asking for backlinks. You will have a much higher chance of success then.

This is how I work on my link-building campaigns with Semrush.

Step 1. I filter the prospects first within Prospects, mostly by Blog and General.

Semrush Link Building Tool Outreach Strategies Filter

Step 2. I move them to different In Progress lists depending on how I want my outreach to be. I usually stick to Guest Post, Directory, and Manual link, but you can choose the others ones too, depending on your SEO strategy.

Semrush Link Building Tool Prospects - Choose and add to list

Step 3. I go to my In Progress URLs and export the file as a CSV.

Semrush Link Building Tool Outreach Websites Export

Step 4. Sometimes I even get the email addresses from Semrush and them to my Excel file.

Semrush Link Building Tool Outreach Websites Email

Step 5. I check out each website and try to connect with the website owners through social first or send very customized and personalized outreach emails.

Bulk Backlink Analysis

The Semrush Bulk Analysis feature works similarly to the comparative Backlink Analysis, with one small difference.

If you click on Info, you see all the Governmental, Educational, and .org sites linking to the analyzed domains.

Semrush Bulk Analysis

This is of very high value because these domains are very high authority, and if you can secure a link from one of these types of sites to your domain, you could increase the domain authority of your website also significantly.

Pro Tip:

You can also get the same data if you analyze the domains separately in the Backlink Audit.

In the Bulk Analysis, you see all the data in a quick overview, which helps you decide which domain to dig deeper into.

Ready to get started with link building? Get a 14-day free trial for Semrush now and save $119.95.

Chapter 6.

On-Page & Tech SEO

Improve your site’s technical SEO and make it more search-engine friendly

This is the final big toolkit I will cover in this Semrush tutorial. The On-Page & Tech SEO toolkit of Semrush helps you get ideas to optimize your overall site and also every page so that they rank high in search engines.

What you can do with the link-building toolkit:

  • Fix the technical errors on your site and improve your overall site health
  • Get new ideas to optimize each page of your website for specific keywords
  • Analyze how your pages compare to the top 10 pages and get ideas for improvement

Let’s check out the dashboard.

Semrush On Page and Tech SEO

Site Audit

Once again, you set up a project here. Just add your website and as many pages as your Semrush plan lets you.

Unless you have some technical SEO knowledge, skip the other sections. They show as optional anyway.

The only thing you could do is set a schedule of how often you want the audit to be done: weekly, daily, or just one-off when you want to do it manually.

I would recommend you to do it weekly so that you are alerted if there are sudden issues that need to be fixed.

Semrush Site Audit Set Up


Once you set it up, it will take some time for Semrush to show you the results. Here’s what the overview will look like.

Semrush Site Audit Overview

It gives you an overall idea of your site performance and areas where you need improvement.

If you click on Errors, you will see all the issues that need to be fixed, even by page level. It is accompanied by explanations of why you need to fix these to improve your SEO, and how you can do them.

Semrush Site Audit Errors

Pro Tip:

This is really a very technical report. Fix the issues you can, like broken links and images.

But if you are not a technical person, to really optimize your site, I would recommend handing over the report to a technical SEO professional and asking for it to be fixed.

Once it’s done, you can run the audit again and see what has improved.

I would recommend you do a site audit at least once every 3 months or so.

Listing Management

Listing Management is more of a local SEO tool, where you can analyze how your website is optimized for local SEO.

You just have to type in your company name.

I entered a small local business in Maastricht, where I live, and I see these results.

Semrush Listing Management

I don’t see any particular insights here that the business can get to improve their listings, frankly.

Full disclosure, I just don’t use this feature much. If you have success with it, do share! I would love to know if it helped you.

On-Page SEO Checker

The Semrush On-Page SEO Checker gives you ideas on how to optimize all your website pages for SEO. It offers these optimization ideas based on the top 100 search results for those keywords.

You set up your website (or a single page) as a project in the on-page checker tool, and set your target location.

You can also choose a schedule for the frequency of reports.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker Set Up

Let’s see the results dashboard first.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker Overview

The Semrush On-Page Checker suggests ideas about optimizing your keywords, backlinks, strategy, technical SEO, etc.

If you click on Optimization Ideas, you get improvement ideas for each page.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker Optimization Ideas


When you click on Ideas, you see the detailed suggestions.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker Optimization Ideas Details


Pro Tip:

In my experience, some ideas are great, and can really be worked on. You have to decide which ones are suitable for your website.

You don’t have to do everything or in the way that’s suggested. It really depends on the needs of your website and SEO goals. I have had some very helpful tips here for some of my pages, and others really haven’t hit the mark.

Remember that in the end, it’s an AI algorithm, and it cannot make the same strategic decisions as you, a human 😉

The Top 10 Benchmarking shows you how your page compares to the top 10 pages that rank for the same keyword.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker Benchmarking

It is a good overview to have, especially if you have no idea how to improve your page SEO more than you already have.

More details about this benchmarking and suggestions based on the top 10 can be found in the SEO Content Template.

Pro Tip:

Instead of an entire website, you can also use the On-Page Checker to optimize a single page for a specific target keyword.

Semrush On-Page SEO Checker for Single Page

Want to get recommendations to improve your on-page SEO for a page/ your entire website and make it rank higher? Try it out with your free use of the Pro plan for 14 days.

Chapter 7.

Other SEO Toolkits: Content Marketing and Local SEO

The last part of this Semrush tutorial is a quick look at the Content Marketing Toolkit which includes two SEO tools: the Semrush SEO Content Template and the SEO Writing Assistant.

Local SEO is a separate toolkit that includes features like listing management and review management, but the listing management tool is also included in the On-Page & SEO Tech toolkit, as we saw above.

I will cover these features briefly.

SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant

The SEO Content Template and the SEO Writing Assistant are content optimization tools that help you to plan, create, and optimize your blog articles and other web content for maximum search engine visibility.

Just choose a target keyword from your keyword research exercise and enter it in the SEO Content Template.

Semrush SEO Content Template


The tool will provide you suggestions for content optimization based on the top 10 results that rank for the keyword.

Semrush SEO Content Recommendations

The Semrush SEO Writing Assistant helps you write better content for your website. It gives you feedback on your SEO keywords, readability, and more, even as you are writing it, based on your target keyword and the SEO Content Template.

You can use it to improve your writing quality and make sure that your content is optimized for search engines. The Writing Assistant also provides tips on how to improve your writing, such as using a more active voice or creating shorter sentences.

It comes with an Add-On in Google Docs or WordPress that gives you feedback as you write.

See below how it looks in Google Docs.

Semrush SEO Writing Assistant

Local SEO

I use the Semrush Pro plan which covers a few features of Listing Management and Reviews Management, and so far, the dashboards look very similar for these two.

The Listing Management feature I showed you above already.

So if you are looking for a tool to help you with local SEO, you can consider buying the local SEO dashboard or upgrading to the Guru plan to try it out.

But since I haven’t used this feature, I cannot recommend or not recommend it to you.

But even without tools, there are ways to optimize your small business websites for local SEO with reviews, directory listings, and word-of-mouth marketing.

Chapter 8.

Semrush plans and pricing

Now that we’ve covered the SEO toolkits, let’s move to the other parts of this Semrush guide, starting with the subscription offers.

Semrush offers three different subscription plans:

  • Semrush Pro
  • Semrush Guru
  • Semrush Business

Their difference lies in the number of features they include and their pricing levels:

The Pro plan is the most popular and starts at $108.33 per month.

It includes:

  • 5 projects
  • 500 keyword tracking per month
  • 10,000 results per report

The Guru plan starts at $208.33 per month and includes:

  • 15 projects
  • 1500 keyword tracking per month
  • 30,000 results per report
  • Content Marketing Toolkit
  • Historical Data
  • Plagiarism Checker

The Business plan starts at $416.66 per month and includes:

Here’s a full summary. Read my full post on Semrush pricing and the Semrush lifetime deal for more details.

semrush coupon code - semrush pricing and plan comparison

Which Semrush plan is right for you?

If you’re just getting started with SEO and are a small business owner, freelancer, or blogger, the Pro plan is the best option.

But if you are a big small business with a big team and a dedicated marketing manager, you may need more advanced features like the Semrush Historical Data or higher limits on keyword tracking and projects. Then, you’ll need to upgrade to the Guru one.

The Business plan is really more for big businesses with big teams, so it may not be the best fit for small businesses.

Pro Tip:

My recommendation would be to stick with the Pro plan at first.

It will be more than enough if you have just started to work on your SEO. You can also upgrade to the Guru plan later. Check out my detailed comparison of  Semrush Pro vs Guru, to decide which would be the best one for you.

If you’re interested in trying out this plan, you can also read more about how to activate your Semrush Guru 14-day trial.

If you really want to understand the benefits of the Pro and Guru hands-on, it’s best to get started with the Semrush coupon code of 14-day free trials that will give you enough time to get familiar with the Semrush and decide which plan is the best for you.

Chapter 9.

Semrush pros & cons

SEMrush is a powerful tool that can help you to improve your website’s search engine optimization.

However, like all tools, it has both positive and negative aspects.

On the plus side:

  • SEMrush helps you find the best keywords for your business.
  • It provides detailed information about your and your competitor’s traffic, including keyword rankings and backlink data. This information can be very helpful in identifying areas where they are doing better and your website could be improved.
  • You can find tons of link-building opportunities

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to using SEMrush:

  • It can be a complex tool to use if you are not familiar with search engine optimization, and it may take some time to learn how to get the most out of it.
  • In addition, Semrush can be expensive, especially for small businesses with tight budgets. However, if you are willing to invest the time to learn how to use SEMrush, it can be an extremely valuable asset for your business.
  • Semrush provides data only from Google search and Baidu. If you need data on search engines like Bing and Yahoo, Semrush won’t be the best fit.

Chapter 10.

Semrush free trials and other deals

Semrush offers a few deals to help you get started with using their tool.

Here are some of the coupon codes and discounts they offer:

Semrush free trial

If you’re wondering how to use Semrush for free, you can start with a 14-day free trial (as I’ve mentioned many times in the above post) that allows you to test out all of the features and see if it’s a good fit for your needs.

The regular free trial lasts for 7 days. During that time you’ll have full access to all of the features that Semrush has to offer.

Because I am so awesome 😉 and love Semrush so much, I have the special affiliate link with which you can get an extended free trial for 14 days.

You can use the tool to track your keywords, research your competition, and more.

So it will be like using the Pro plan for a month, for example, but without paying $65. Plus, you can cancel at any time during the trial period and you won’t be charged a thing.

Only negative point? You need to enter your credit card details to get the Semrush free trial.

Remember that a Semrush free account is different from a free trial.

A Semrush free account will give you access to the tool forever, but with very, very, limited features, only a fraction of what an actual Pro account can give you. You don’t need to enter your credit card details to get a Semrush free account.

Semrush lifetime deal

Semrush also offers you deals to save hundreds of dollars every year, forever, with their lifetime deals.

You can get $240 off for the Pro plan and $900 off for the Guru plan, for every year that you use Semrush.

That’s a lot of money saved, especially for a small business 😉

Semrush Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal

Every year on Black Friday, Semrush offers its best discounts of the year.

The deal is different every year, and you only get the deal if you sign up with a new account (not upgrade from a trial).

In 2022, this is the Semrush Black Friday deal: 40% off the Semrush Guru plan for 3 or 6 months, PLUS 500 more keywords to track. You can also get Semrush .Trends free for 8 months, where you pay $1000 instead of $3000,

Chapter 11.

Who should use Semrush

Semrush is a powerful all-in-one platform that provides you with everything you need to optimize your website and content, as well as track your progress and find new opportunities for growth.

So if your business objectives of a website include improving the online visibility and performance, Semrush would be the perfect SEO tool for you.

Here are three categories of people who would benefit most from using Semrush.

1. Small business owners and bloggers

You can use Semrush to understand your competitors’ success factors and create a robust marketing plan.

2. Content creators and bloggers

You can research trends and topics and generate SEO content ideas for new articles and blog posts.

3. Marketing agencies and SEO specialists

Provide your clients with actionable data and insights to improve their SEO

Chapter 12.

Semrush competitors and alternatives

Semrush may be a very powerful tool, but it’s not the only one that you can use for your SEO, of course.

Semrush competitors

There are direct competitors that offer similar features and performance at a similar price point. The most popular ones among these are:

Ahrefs and Moz Pro are Semrush’s closest competitors.

They provide the key features of keyword research, competitor research, and site audit but don’t have the advanced features of link building and on-page checkers.

Read my detailed analysis of Semrush vs Ahrefs and Semrush vs Moz for more details.

Semrush alternatives

Semrush is a powerful tool with huge databases and many features, but it does have a high price point, especially for small businesses with tight budgets.

If you’re working with a smaller budget, there are some SEO tools available that can give you the insights you need to grow your business.

They may not have as in-depth insights and extensive databases as Semrush, but they could be enough in the beginning.

Some of the best Semrush alternatives for small businesses are:

Each offers a wide range of features at a fraction of the cost of Semrush, and they also occasionally offer huge discounts, like the yearly SEO PowerSuite discount or the SE Ranking lifetime deal.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to do your research and select a tool that will meet your specific needs.

Most of these tools offer free trials for SEO, so start with them first to get a feel of the tool before you pay for it.

Chapter 13.

Quick tips and tricks on how to use Semrush for SEO

The Semrush interface may take a bit of time to get used to, but there are certain tips I can share that will make it easy to use all the Semrush SEO features to improve your website performance.

1. Use filters to get detailed insights

Whenever you can, in each section, you can and should use filters to narrow down your searches and data.

This will help you in zooming into your own and your competitor’s performances, which will help you sharped your SEO and content strategy

2. Don’t try to do too much in the beginning

As mentioned before, Semrush provides a lot of insights.

If you are a beginner to SEO and SEO tools, and whether you’re doing your own SEO or hiring someone for it, don’t get overwhelmed by everything the tool offers.

What I have mentioned in this detailed Semrush tutorial should be enough to help you improve your SEO and content strategy for some time.

Once you are a seasoned Semrush user, then you can play around with the other options to do more.

3. Work faster with Excel sheets

In every feature, Semrush gives you the option to export and download your data.

You can then use these detailed sheets to organize your data the way you like and use it for your content marketing plan.

It is also very helpful to share this data with your other team members or with your SEO consultant, if you are working with one.

4. Work with updated keyword data

Every data table tells you when the data was last updated.

When it comes to keyword research, you can update your metrics manually by clicking on ‘Update Metrics’ to evaluate the keyword metrics on the current date.

Chapter 14.

Semrush Tutorial & Guide – Conclusion

That’s it for my Semrush tutorial! I hope you found this guide helpful. Now that you know how to use Semrush for SEO, why not give it a try?

Get a 14-day free trial for Pro and start using the tool to research your competition, track your own website’s SEO progress, and improve your website ranking.

Do you currently use Semrush to improve your SEO? What do you think about the tool? Leave a comment!

FAQ: Semrush Tutorial & Guide 2024

Semrush is user-friendly with ample learning resources, making it suitable for beginners, though it has a learning curve due to its comprehensive features.

Semrush excels in SEO optimization, PPC campaign planning, content strategy enhancement, and social media management.

It also offers tools for in-depth competitive analysis, allowing businesses to understand and outperform their competitors in various digital channels. Start with an extended 14-day free trial.


Start by creating an account to access domain analytics, keyword research tools, and site auditing features.

Engage in competitive research to uncover industry insights and follow Semrush’s educational resources for practical application tips. Regularly use and experiment with different features to get the most out of Semrush.

Leverage the Keyword Magic Tool to discover extensive keyword opportunities and use the Keyword Overview for detailed keyword insights.

These features are crucial for refining SEO and PPC strategies, with the ability to track and analyze keyword performance over time for sustained success.

Start with the Competitive Research Toolkit to analyze your rivals’ search rankings, keywords, and advertising strategies.

Explore their backlink profiles and website traffic to uncover strengths and weaknesses.

Utilize these insights to identify opportunities for your strategy, adapting successful tactics and filling in market gaps they’ve overlooked.

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Erik Emanuelli
1 year ago

I’m wondering which tool is the best option for professional bloggers: Ahrefs or SemRush?
What do you think, Paulomi?

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