SEM Rush Review – SEO Competitive Research at Your Fingertips

October 23, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Competitive research is a huge part of SEO. After all, in order to improve your sites’ rankings in Google, you need to step over your competitors. The more data you have and the more you know about other sites in your industry, the better off you’ll be.

A few weeks back, I reviewed SEO Spyglass, a great competitive link building tool that provides you with key insights and metrics on your competitors’ link sources. Definitely check that one out if you haven’t already.

semrushlogoIn the same vein, today I want to go over another useful tool for SEO – SEMRush. SEMRush is a keyword and competitor research tool created by the same people behind SEO Digger (the old competitive rankings tool), SEO Quake (a great SEO toolbar), (Adsense spy), and SEO Pivot (keyword research).

So what exactly does SEM Rush do? In a nutshell, SEM Rush gives you a clear view of the SEO landscape surrounding a specified keyword, domain, or URL. It does this by tracking over 30 million keywords in Google and tying in important metrics like rankings, search volume, cost per click in Adwords, competition, trends, etc. – all very useful information that you can use to improve your SEO.

Below are some of SEM Rush’s main features.

SEM Rush Features

Site Statistics
When you enter in a domain, the tool outputs some statistics that can help you gauge the size and SEO success of a site. For example, below are the stats for, the big shoe e-commerce site that was recently bought up by Amazon.


As you can see, Zappos is ranked #404 in the SEM Rush database and receives about 2.4 million visitors from Google organic search per month (comparing with my own sites however, this figure seems to be understated, is about 20% of the true amount). If this traffic was bought in Google Adwords, SEMRush estimates the cost to be about $3.13 million.

Furthermore, the tool states that receives 730 visits from Adwords ads, costing $1,000. Again, these number are likely severely understated since SEM Rush’s database isn’t all encompassing. Use the numbers as relative comparisons between sites rather than absolutes.

Google Keywords
My favorite feature of SEM Rush is its ability to track rankings for any domain. Simply enter in a domain name, and the tool will show you many of its Google rankings including the specific ranking URL, keyword search volume, cost per click, etc. Due to the massive amounts of data that needs to be indexed, the rankings could be a month out of date – but still very useful. You can easily find out your competitors’ top volume keywords and create related content to achieve success. I’m sure there are little known keywords out there that your competitor is banking on. SEM Rush is the tool to see it all.

For example, here are some of’s rankings.


With a free account, you can see data for only 10 keywords. Once you upgrade, you can see 1,000, 10,000 or 10,000 results depending on the membership type you sign up for. See the pricing page for more info on that.

Competitors in Google
Not only can you research individual domains to see the keywords that they’re ranking for, but using SEM Rush you can also discover the main competitors by analyzing common keyword rankings between sites.

For example, below is the top SEO competition in Google for


Adwords Keywords & Competition

In addition to insights in organic search, SEM Rush also allows you to see competitor data for Adwords paid search advertising.

  • Adwords Keywords – keywords that the specified site is bidding on in Google paid search.
  • Competitors in Adwords – domains that have paid search ads running for the same keywords as the specified site.
  • Adwords ad texts – overview of all paid search ads leading to the specified site.
  • Potential ads buyers – sites that buy paid search ads on a similar set of keywords.
  • Potential ads sellers – sites with the same visitors as specified site’s Adwords paid search campaigns.

Limitations of SEM Rush

SEM Rush is a fantastic SEO competitive research tool that definitely has its key advantages over other similar tools. However, it’s not without weaknesses. Because SEM Rush works with huge amounts of data, most of which is queried from Google, it has to take precautions not to overload the Google servers. As a result, a lot of the information can be outdated – by up to 1-2 months. While this isn’t nearly as big of an issue for slow and steady SEO campaigns, it’s definitely a problem for PPC campaigns which quickly change and are seasonal in nature.

Furthermore, SEM Rush tracks only the first 20 results in Google – and even this is a huge undertaking in terms of computing resources required. While the current set up offers enough data to work off of, I’d still be interested in seeing the top 50 or so results in Google and in other search engines like Yahoo and Bing as well.

Final Verdict

Overall, SEM Rush is a great tool that allows you to dig into your competitors’ SEO rankings and improve your own with the insights you learn. There are similar tools out there, like Spyfu and KeyCompete, but I like SEM Rush because it has a stronger focus on organic search and because it ties in the value of each keyword based on search volume and Adwords CPC data. You can even export the data via API and play with it however you want.

As I mentioned, there are limitations to any third party tool like this that uses huge amounts of data from Google. However, there isn’t much reliable information like this available anywhere else and SEM Rush seems to fill the void nicely.

So how much does it all cost? You can run 10 queries per day with 20 results for free. If you like what you see and want more, you can easily upgrade to the next tiers which range from $19.95 to $499.95. Try out SEM Rush to look into your competitors’ sites. You might learn something.

What do you think of SEM Rush?  Do you use it often to dig into other sites’ SEO efforts?

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7 Responses to “SEM Rush Review – SEO Competitive Research at Your Fingertips”

SEO Wanna Be on November 3rd, 2009

Hi your post is amazing, It’s incredible, I learned a lot about SEO and Man, this thing’s getting better and better as I learn more about internet marketing. Also as part of my ongoing mission to find the absolute best tools to make money, this is without a doubt at the top of my list. Everything happened so fast!

Alison Groves on November 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

We also have pulled SEMrush into our SEO toolset for people to utilize in their overall campaigns. If you’d like to try SEMrush out along with our other tools, we’ve got a 30 day free trial for you to check it out.

Gyutae Park on November 11th, 2009

Thanks Alison, I had a chance to speak with Jon and really like the direction Raven SEO Tools is taking. Will review here on Winning the Web soon!

Meri Garcia on November 17th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks a lot for this review. It’s useful and interesting.


Chris Peterson on December 3rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

What I think that SEMRush suggest perfect keywords but its evaluating possibilities are weak now.

bathroom shower on February 2nd, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I haven’t tries semrush but i have used seoquake and its really good to use. I would like to use this one as it seems very useful.

Bit Doze on May 24th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

I have just registered for SEMRush it has some nice features indeed is not that exact but is a grate tool for analyzing.

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