What is SEMrush (and Can It Help Your Business)?

Claude Harrington 12.29.2015

We’ve all heard about the importance of SEO, but what does that importance actually mean in practical terms? Yesterday we attempted to begin answering that question by taking a closer look at Moz and seeing how your business might benefit by using an SEO specialist; a company whose tools and software are intended to help users better optimize their visibility on search engines. To continue our investigation, today we’ll be looking at SEMrush


Have you ever heard the expression that the “best offense is a good defense?” This, to a large degree, is the guiding principle behind SEMrush. Unlike traditional SEO products, SEMrush’s competitive advantage is how it arms users to combat competition. That’s an important and instructive shift in mindset. SEMrush isn’t simply about putting your best foot forward, it’s about first looking at the feet of your competitors and then determining where your foot ought to be.

Interestingly enough (and certainly not unrelated), SEMrush is something of a follow-up product to a previously successful and more conventional tool called SEOquake…


In 2006, a programmer named Oleg Shchegolev wanted to provide users with more web transparency (and, ultimately, the means to identify opportunities for optimization). The result of this ambition was a free-to-use and easy-to-understand SEO plugin called SEOquake. Designed to work with a trio of popular browsers (Firefox, Chrome and Opera), SEOquake illuminates a vast amount of information about any site you visit. Things like page rank, traffic estimates and keyword density. It’s a nifty, versatile tool which accounts for why it’s been downloaded over two million times.

Two years after introducing SEOquake, Shchegolev and his colleague Dmitri Melnikov founded SEMrush. Before discussing a few of our favorite SEMrush features, we wanted to first share a recent quote from Oleg Shchegolev:

“All of these articles about how to become successful, which habits productive people should have, great business lessons about how to succeed within your company — there are so many of them these days. We are saturated with this content. The world is so spacious and diversified, that no template or one-size-fits-all model works for everyone.”

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but it truly is worth the reiteration: there is no template for success. Especially not when it involves the many uncertainties and constant shifts that define our digital realm. And given that Shchegolev’s product (SEMrush) is ultimately a tool aiming to offer improved SEO success, we thought it was important to parrot this reminder once again. Everyone’s formula for success is different, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider what has worked for others. And SEMrush certainly falls into that category.

So let’s take a look at a few of the features that piqued our interest:

[Note: Some of the features below are also offered by competing SEO service providers. That said, these featured are included here because we found them to be particularly noteworthy]

Data Visualization: One reason why mounting an SEO campaign can be frustrating (and intimidating) is because it can often feel like an abstract battle. By not knowing exactly how search algorithms work or having a tangible sense of the digital realm, it can sometimes feel like we’re just taking shots in the dark. That’s why we particularly appreciate how SEMrush organizes their data and information.

Take for instance SEMrush’s Domain vs. Domain tool.

Data Visualization

By using a Venn Diagram like this–something we’ve all seen since we were kids–it’s much easier to intuit and internalize the difference between websites.

Even their more formal offerings (such as charts) are presented with a supreme level of accessibility and adaptability.

semrush chart

Lastly and most importantly is the dashboard itself:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.06.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.03.43 PM

This is essentially your home base; your entry point into the world of SEO. So to log in and see this immediately is a tremendous way to begin any search engine strategy.

Keyword Difficulty: In addition to the Domain vs. Domain feature we mentioned above, another favorite of ours was the Keyword Difficulty tool. Not only because of the tool’s utility but because of the value-driven competitive mentality it instills.

Keyword Difficulty

Like most of us, you’re probably trying to rank for the most coveted and difficult keywords within your industry. That’s good, you should shoot for the moon. But the beauty of SEMrush’s Keyword Difficulty feature is that it helps identify “under-valued” keywords and suggest which words to focus on. In short, it’s a tool that helps you try and win smaller battles while fighting the larger war. Not only that, but I’d posit that victory in those “smaller battles” will also help keep morale high. And in what is inherently a long-term, never-ending war, that counts for a lot.

Additional Weapons at Your Disposal: Like most businesses, SEMrush’s website has a blog. But unlike most sites, SEMrush’s blog is updated constantly. Quantity, of course, does not equally quality, but their offerings are diverse enough (and thoughtful enough) that you’re bound to encounter a lot of useful information. For example, here are a few of our favorites: 

12 Essential On-Page SEO Elements for Beginners (by Elena Terenteva)

How to Find the Best Content Ideas in 6 Easy Steps (by Dan Callis)

10 Easily Avoidable Mistakes that Ruin Google Rankings (by Darshan Patel)

5 Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Business Success (by Chris Marentis)


In addition to the great content freely available on SEMrush’s blog, they also offer a variety of specialized webinars that provide insights into the following categories:

  • SEO
  • Technical and CRO
  • Content Marketing
  • How to SEMrush
  • Social Media
  • PPC

To learn more about the various plans that SEMrush offers, click here

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