SEMrush: Keyword Research, SEO, Site Audits, and More

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SEMrush? What on earth is that? I didn’t know why my mom wanted to pay $100 a month for some program. I had no idea what it did, nor why it would run me $100 a month. That sounded insane to me. Nope, I was not on board. I’d figure things out myself. Of course, I had little to no SEO game at all at the time. I didn’t know anything about SEO, and wanted nothing to do with it. It terrified me. Those three letters seemed daunting as hell. S-E-O. Search engine optimization. Why must I do it?

semrush tutorial

Well, to rank at all in the search engines, for one. I needed a good SEO tool, but I didn’t know a thing about keyword research even, nor where to put keywords should I select a good one. (Which how would I have with no tool to do keyword research?) It was all a mystery. I’d looked into precisely nothing when I started my blog, opting instead to just make it my own. This was fine and good until I started wanting to monetize. Yep, now I needed traffic, and there was no traffic without SEO work.

Damn it.

So I caved, and we got SEMrush. And at first I thought it was a big waste of money because I had no idea how to use it other than for keyword research. There are free platforms for this, as well as cheaper ones, so why was I paying $100 a month? Because it does oh so much more, as it turns out.

A Complete Guide to Using SEMrush

I started writing this guide in a simple way. Keyword research. But I needed to do more than that. I had to head on over to the SEO content analysis. What in the hell am I talking about, you’re probably wondering. Fear not, for I will explain everything I know about SEMrush. And here we go…

Keyword Analytics

SEO Content Template

SEO Page Audit

See What You’re Ranking For

Site Audit

Number of Credits Per Month

Keyword Analytics

The first thing you want to do when thinking of a topic to write about is to head on over to Keyword Analytics on the left hand side of your dashboard. Type in the word or words you’re thinking about writing on. Now you have two options here. You can either click on “Phrase Match” or “Related Keywords”. Phrase Match will give you the exact keyword you’ve punched in, along with any keywords that include what you’ve entered. Related Keywords, on the other hand, will provide you with similar keywords. Some are going to work perfectly, while some are going to be rubbish and totally unrelated to what you actually want to write on. It can be great for ideas you never thought of, or not be helpful at all. It’s important to check in with both of these tools.

How to Select Which Keyword to Use

Now you have a long keyword list. There are a ton of different tabs at the top with things that are probably foreign to you. The four most important things to look at are:

  • Keyword: Is it relevant to your topic?
  • Volume: This is how many people search the keyword per month. If it’s tiny, it’s probably not worth your time.
  • KD: Keyword difficulty, on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the KD, the harder it is to rank for. This indicates how hard a keyword is to rank for in an organic search result.
  • Com.: Competition is on a scale from 0 to 1. The higher, the harder it is to rank for. As opposed to keyword difficulty, this one reflects people who are paying for the keyword. It’s important to take note of both KD and Com.

So you’re basically looking for a keyword that:

  • Is relevant to your topic.
  • Has a high search volume.
  • Is a low keyword difficulty.
  • Has a low competition.

This can of course be easier said than done, and sometimes we have to make compromises.

Remember, while you want one focus keyword for your article, you can use multiple keywords throughout in an attempt to rank for more than one thing. One of my most popular articles ranks for a ton of different keywords with varying volumes, keyword difficulties, and competitions. SEMrush helps you sort all of this out in an easy way, which has helped me a ton.

You can also organize the columns in different ways. Automatically SEMrush will display results in both Phrase Match and Related Keywords from highest to lowest volume. You may want to check it out in different ways, such as lowest keyword difficulty. Test out different methods to see what works for you.

Note: Searching for keywords does not cost you any credits.

SEO Content Template

Now you’ve got your keyword(s), and you’re ready to start. What now? Head on over to SEO Content Template in the left hand sidebar. Punch in the keyword(s) you wish to use, which will cost you credits (discussed later). Use it wisely. It’s now going to generate a template for you based on what the people in the top ten for this keyword (or keywords) are doing. It will suggest words or phrases you should use, whether you should use a video, where to get links from, how long your text should be, where to put your keywords, and a few other handy details. Note that when it says how long the text should be, it is not the actual article’s length. You should be aiming for way higher, as the length they state (and that Google recognizes) ignores words such as “the” and “a”. It’s annoying, I know.

Now you’ve got your content template. Make note of everything in it, and follow all the guidelines to have the most likelihood of ranking.

Note: Each keyword you search will cost one SEO Idea Unit.

SEO Page Audit

This was the first thing that changed my life about SEMrush. Seriously. It changed my life. This is how I made my organic search traffic ten times what it was before I started using SEMrush. And that was in a month.

Head over to your Dashboard from the left hand menu. You can only do SEO Page Audit for properties (websites) you have set up. Furthermore, you can only do page audit on webpages where the keyword in question is in the top 100. We’ll address how to find them in the next section.

When you go to SEO Page Audit, there are multiple ways you can import keywords. You can simply let SEMrush decide which pages and keywords to analyze based on the data they’ve collected. You do this by going to Import Keywords and Pages -> Organic Research (SEMrush). This will automatically gather landing pages and keywords that SEMrush thinks you should be working on.

I prefer to pick my own keywords and landing pages. For this, go to Add Landing Page. Type in the full URL of the page you want to audit, with https and everything. Next type in your first keyword for that page, and hit enter. Do this for as many keywords as you want to research for that page.


The results displayed on SEMrush’s SEO Page Audit are very similar to those on the SEO Content Analysis. The only real difference here is that SEO Content Analysis tells you what the top ten are doing. SEO Page Audit compares your page to what the top ten are doing. They’ll tell you what you’re already doing correctly, and what you need to fix. It doesn’t take an SEO expert (of which I certainly am not) to understand it all. It’s laid out incredibly clearly. Follow everything it says to do, and watch your rankings rise.

Note: This also costs SEO Ideas Units, at one credit per keyword.

See What You (Or Others) Are Ranking For

This is how you find out what your website (or any website, for that matter) is ranking for. Check it for as many sites, as many times as you’d like. No units are used for this.

Head over to Domain Analytics in the left hand menu, and then to Organic Research. Type into the top bar the website you’d like data on. This can be your own site, or even a competitor’s to see how they’re ranking and give you ideas to beat them. SEMrush will display your organic traffic on desktop in the United States automatically, but you can change this. It will show how many organic hits you’re getting per day, and the progression. It also shows how many keywords you rank in the top 100 on Google for, and their progression as well.

Again, you can organize the results in many different ways. Automatically it will show you the keywords you get the highest traffic from first. You can organize it in different ways to suit your needs. I often like to sort by last update so that I know which keywords have moved, and then work on those ones in SEO Page Audit. This allows me to track keyword, though there are other ways to do this as well.

Note: What’s displayed as your traffic here will differ from Google Analytics. This is because SEMrush is not showing you all your traffic. It is showing you only your organic traffic by country and device that you select. The default is United States desktop traffic.

Site Audit

On SEMrush you can also do a site audit, which assesses the health of your site overall. Some of the errors, warnings, and notices it returns will be easy to fix for someone with no technical experience, while others will be terribly confusing. Do what you can. Worry most about the errors, a bit about the warnings, and only about the notices if you know what to do. They’re not a big deal.


You get heaps of site audit credits per month, so though it does cost them, you can do a lot. You can set up site audit to run automatically or manually, and set how many pages you want it to crawl, which will show your progress on the next audit.

Number of Credits Per Month

The number of credits per month that you get depend on your plan.

$100/month Pro Plan:

  • Site Audit Pages to Crawl: 100,000
  • SEO Ideas Units: 500

$100/month Guru Plan:

  • Site Audit Pages to Crawl: 300,000
  • SEO Ideas Units: 800

$100/month Business Plan:

  • Site Audit Pages to Crawl: 1,000,000
  • SEO Ideas Units: 2,000

Everything Else

There are a ton more things you can do with SEMrush, but these are the key things you need to know to help increase your organic traffic and up your SEO game. I got my traffic up by ten times in less than a month, and I’m not technical at all, nor do I know much about search engine optimization. If I can do it, you certainly can too. Engaging a blog post can be hard, but SEMrush makes things so much easier. So hop on and see your numbers rise!

If you’re more of a visual learner, you can check out this video directly from SEMrush explaining everything the program can do. Go forth, and get that SEO game on and your website traffic up!


Danie is a lovable and insane digital nomad of sorts. If you ever wondered what's a nomad, you've come to the right place. She enjoys oversharing, telling every detail of her life, and chilling on the beach, among other things. Danie is rather odd, and she likes it that way. Be sure to subscribe to hear more of her ramblings, and find out when Danie finally gets to fulfill her biggest dream: cuddling a platypus.


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