SEMrush is an SEO tool that has proven itself to be worth its weight in gold over the years. I first started using the software after buying Nick Eubanks’ Master Keyword Strategy course. Both SEMrush, and Nick’s teachings paid for themselves many times over when I went freelance.
Many other SEOs “in the know” also went through that same course, and then eventually developed their own tactics.
Late last year, and earlier this year, some of marketing’s best and brightest created tutorials diving deep into SEMrush’s capabilities as a competitive intelligence tool and topic generator.
And what good is a tutorial if you don’t put it to use? Below I’ve put each of them to the test, and I was quite impressed with the results. I feel like I’ve attended master classes on keyword topical research – and now you can as well.
- SEMrush Keyword Research Tutorial: Two Effective Methods!
- Finding SEO Opportunities with SEMrush
- How to Come Up With Topics for Content Marketing – SEO Topical Research
- Further Reading
Dan Shure [Evolving SEO] SEMrush Keyword Research Tutorial: Two Effective Methods!
First, we’ll dive into Dan Shure’s [Evolving SEO] video. We’re going to use SEMrush for keyword research to come up with blog content ideas to grow our organic search traffic.
The idea is to generate blog topics to create “10x content” that will result in better organic search traffic. We’re working on the assumption that we’ll be creating the best and most authoritative piece of content around that topic on the web. Half-assing the content creation aspect of this will NOT work.
I’m going to use the brand new site coolcoldbrew.co.uk as a guinea pig for this strategy. Cool Cold Brew is a brand new start-up in the UK who offer up a range of healthier chilled coffee drinks. They’ve currently raised over £151,650 on Crowdcube and have already generated both blog posts and videos. Content is top of mind for this company.
I’ll start off by typing ‘Cold Brew Coffee’ into Google search. It’s a little too broad for our purposes here – but I just want to get a feel for what is out there.
Starbucks Nariño 70 Cold Brew grabs the top spot in the paid ad slot.
The top four organic posts are all ‘How to’ posts. That’s incredibly interesting and helpful for our future content endeavors. And the fifth spot is a ‘Why’ post.
- How To Make Cold Brew Coffee At Home | Kicking Horse Coffee
- How To Make Cold Brew Coffee | SimplyRecipes.com
- How to make cold brew coffee | Jamie Oliver
- How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee | Food52
- Why Cold Brew Coffee? | Toddy Coffee Maker
When we take a look at the ‘People also ask’ box – I see the potential for at least 4-5 articles/videos that Cool Brew Coffee as a brand could create content for.
- Why cold brew coffee is better?
- How long does cold brew coffee need to steep?
- Is cold brewed coffee good for you?
- Is there more caffeine in cold brew coffee?
While there is a lot of high-ranking posts for ‘how to make cold brew coffee’ there are also a lot of queries that cross over to the pre-bottled cold brew industry. Cool Cold Brew could and should aim the be ‘the answer’ to a lot these questions.
The Dan Shure SEMrush Method
Find popular sites (with high domain authority) that have written about your topic. We’re choosing high DA sites here for a number of reasons.
- Often sites with a high domain Authority are publishing a lot of content – across a wide variety of niches and subjects.
- They’ve been around for a long time and might not be publishing the most authoritative content. They might have been ‘dropping the ball’ and posting inferior ‘me too’ content.
- Their content that might be outdated or lower quality and that’s where you can come in and create something even better.
- This means that there’s a Content gap opportunity for you to fill.
So let’s fill it.
We’ll start out by inputting the site food52.com into the SEMrush dashboard.
Over on the left click on ‘Pages’ to get the Pages Report.
This initial report isn’t extremely helpful is it gives us a huge list 59,402 pages which are ranking. We’ll need to filter it down further.
In ‘Advanced filters’ we’ll use the ‘Include’ “URL’ ‘Containing’ blocks and enter ‘coffee’ into the blank field.
This gives us a much more manageable 426 results. Just scanning the list by eye – the ‘How to Make Cold-Brewed Coffee‘ article is right at the top and responsible for 1.44% of the search traffic to the entire site. This is a well-regarded article!
If we click on the result in SEMrush, we can drill down much further.
Now we can see that:
- The post is ranking for a staggering 1808 keywords
- Worth about $32,000 in monthly search traffic.
- Driving almost 20,000 visitors a month via search.
Let’s check what it’s ranking for on the first page of Google – and if there are any terms we can tackle with our own content.
Underneath ‘TOP ORGANIC KEYWORDS’ at the lower right click on ‘View full report.’
Now we’ll sort it by position and volume. We want to see all of the first-page keyword rankings.
Click on ‘Advanced filters’ and then set the three blue fields to ‘Include’, ‘Pos’, and ‘Less than.’ Enter 11 into the blank field to the right. Click ‘Apply.’
If the Volume column isn’t already sorted from high to low, click on the down arrow.
Now we have a list of the high volume keywords that the article is ranking for.
This is quite an intimidating list to go after. The keyword difficulty scores range from 64.66 to 86.
While Cool Cold Brew would certainly want to rank for a lot these terms and their variations down the road, the DA (domain authority) of their newish site sits at 11. Food52 (an independent food publisher) has been around since 2009, has 1 million registered contributors, tens of thousands of indexed pages and a DA of 80.
One possibility for an article stands out. Cold brew coffee ratios.
[Cold brew ratio] – Volume: 4,400
[Coffe to water ratio] – Volume: 3,600
[Cold brew coffee ratio] – Volume: 3,600
Most of the terms containing the word ‘ratio’ appear to have a lower Keyword Difficulty score. The difficulty index while still high, landing in the in the 59-70 zone, seems more attainable than the broader terms.
And a quick search in Google shows me that the majority of the top posts don’t have ‘ratio’ in the title or meta description. This could be a content gap opportunity.
If we re-filter the keyword list to only include terns with the word ‘ratio’ some more possibilities start to emerge.
[ratio for cold brew coffee] – Volume: 320
[coffee to water ratio cold brew] – Volume: 260
[cold brew coffee to water ratio] – Volume: 260
[cold brew concentrate ratio] – Volume: 260
[coffee brewing ratio] – Volume: 140
People want to know the ratio between coffee grounds and water in cold brew. And there’s a lot of variations of search terms in the query. Might be worth it to create a video, article (with accompanying graphics and diagrams) around this topic.
If we refer back to the ‘People also ask’ queries…
- Why cold brew coffee is better?
- How long does cold brew coffee need to steep?
- Is cold brewed coffee good for you?
- Is there more caffeine in cold brew coffee?
We could repeat this process for each of the questions.
- Enter each one into Google.
- Investigate who is ranking on the first page for each query.
- Place the URL’s into SEMrush and start mining for more terms and topics that you feel you might have a chance of ranking for with an authoritative piece of content.
If we put enough of these authoritative articles on the site and start to rank them, the potential for search traffic to increase 5x, 10x or 20x becomes a real possibility.
Reinforce these informative posts with videos on the same subject matter, embedded in both the articles as well as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and it won’t be long before the brand is THE go-to place for all things Cold Brew.
And before we move on – be sure to watch Dan’s new video utilizing both Quora and SEMrush as a potent combination.
Cory Collins [Page One Power] Keyword Research: Finding SEO Opportunities with SEMrush
Next up Cory Collins [Page One Power]shows us “how to find keywords that your website already ranks for, but not well enough to secure the traffic it deserves.”
We’re going to find which keywords are driving traffic to your website and identify SEO opportunities where these terms are already sending traffic to your site but your rankings could be improved.
If you improve the rankings for those keywords you will drive a significant increase in traffic to your website.
So how do we do this with SEMrush?
I’m going to drop in the URL for the site of Jeffalytics.com
I happen to be taking a couple of Jeff Sauer’s courses (more on those in a future post) so I’ve been spending a lot of time on his site(s).
Let’s go into SEMrush to look at what keywords are driving traffic from organic search to Jeffalytics.
Click on ‘Organic Research’ from the left-hand menu and then scroll down to ‘ORGANIC SEARCH POSITIONS’
This is a list of the top organic keywords that are driving traffic to his site.
I then re-order it by ‘Traffic %’ to see which keywords are already driving the most search traffic website sorted by percentage.
Right off the bat, I note:
[google analytics certification]
[google recovery account]
He’s ranking on either the first or second page for these higher volume terms. So we see some possibilities here – but let’s dig deeper.
Let’s go back resort this list by search volume.
Head back over to volume and click the lower arrow – to list out all of the ranking keywords by search volume (the average number of times users have searched for a given keyword per month).
We’re going to ignore the irrelevant (read: overly broad) and extremely competitive keywords here. Terms such as [periodic table] and [google plus] won’t suit our needs here so we’ll move on.
Apply Advanced Filters to the Organic Keyword List
Now we’ll drill down into more granular detail and find the real gold in this keyword list.
We’re going to isolate all of the keywords that are ranking from the lower half of the first page of Google all the way down to the fifth page. Positions 8 through 50.
Go down to ‘Advanced Filters’
- Click the middle blue button that says ‘keyword’ and select ‘Pos.’ from the drop-down menu.
- Then click the third (right) blue button that says ‘Equal’ and select ‘Greater than’ from the drop-down.
- Enter ‘7’ (or whatever you wish) in the blank white field to the right.
- Now click the ‘+ Add one more’ on the row below. A new row of 3 blue buttons will appear.
- Repeat the above process by clicking the middle blue button that says ‘keyword’ and select ‘Pos.’ from the drop-down.
- This time when you click the third blue button (‘Equal’) on the 2nd row select ‘Less than’ and enter 51 into the blank white field.
- Hit ‘Apply’ and we’re ready to roll!
Now we have a much more concise list of keyword opportunities.
Ones that immediately stand out:
[google account recovery] – Position: 44; Volume: 110,000
[google accounts recovery] – Position: 43; Volume: 49,500
[google partners] – Position: 10; Volume: 14,800
[google analytics login] – Position: 16; Volume: 12,100
[google analytics certification] – Position: 19; Volume: 9,900
[what is google analytics] – Position: 45; Volume: 2,900
[google partner] – Position: 8; Volume: 1,600
[google training] – Position: 20; Volume: 1,300
[google analytics account] – Position: 12; Volume: 1,000
Now with just a few minutes work, we have a strong base list of higher traffic keywords that we can improve the rankings on.
The entire filtered list contains 2,647 keywords. With another hour’s work, we could build up a rock solid that contains dozens and even hundreds of long-tail keywords that we could potentially move the needle on. Longform articles and in-depth guides are especially good for this.
If we go back to the left menu on the SEMrush dashboard and hit ‘Pages’ we’ll see which pages and posts on Jeff’s site are receiving the most search traffic.
According to this report, six of his blog posts are generating nearly 50% of the search traffic to his site.
His ‘How To Recover Google Analytics Account’ is responsible for 10% of the search traffic going to Jeffalytics via 598 keywords that are ranking on the first ten pages of Google. 36 of those keywords are first page rankings.
So with SEMrush, we can drill down on ranking keywords, for the entire site and page by page. We can create mini-campaigns for each of the top ranking pages and boost the winners.
Ryan Stewart [Webris] ~ How to Come Up With Topics for Content Marketing – SEO Topical Research
Now we’re going to learn how to do topical research for SEO to hack traffic.
Topical research is a tier higher than typical keyword research. This technique that Ryan [Webris] shares allows you to do this very quickly with SEMrush and without a lot of skill.
For this tutorial, we’ll use the EliteFTS site as a test subject. EliteFTS is a seller of Professional Rated & Custom Made Strength Equipment, Accessory Products, Apparel – for those who take their training seriously.
The reason I chose them (apart from being a customer) is that they’ve created thousands of pieces of content over the years – so it’s in their DNA to compete and win in the search engines as well.
So we’ll enter elitefts.com into the dashboard and then hit ‘Organic Research’ in the left-hand menu.
Then we’ll click on ‘Competitors’ to get the ORGANIC COMPETITORS report. This report lists the domains that the queried domain is competing against in Google’s top 20 organic search positions.
Now we’ve got a list of sites that EliteFTS is competing against for hundreds and thousands of keywords on the first two pages of Google.
We’ll use RogueFitness.com – ‘an American manufacturer and distributor of strength and conditioning equipment, including weightlifting bars, plates, racks and other fitness related equipment for CrossFit boxes.’ Not only do they sell a lot of similar equipment, but they’re also located in the same state.
EliteFTS and Rogue Fitness are currently competing for 1766 keyword terms on the first two pages of Google.
For this example, we’re just going to go through the steps with just one competitor – but you’ll want to repeat this process with 3-5 more afterward to build out a comprehensive topic list. If I were making a ‘mega list,’ I’d go back and run sites like t-nation.com, powerliftingwatch.com and jtsstrength.com through the same process to ensure I don’t have any topical gaps in my content.
So we’ll go ahead and click on RogueFitness.com
Then below in the ‘TOP ORGANIC KEYWORDS’ click on ‘View full report’ button.
Using ‘Advanced filters’ we’re going to apply Exclude / Keyword / Containing ‘rogue’ as we don’t intend to compete with Rogue Fitness for their own branded keywords.
Once you’ve filtered out the branded terms click ‘Export’ on the right and grab the report in CSV format.
Open up the CSV file in Microsoft Excel for clean up and filtering.
Highlight columns G and everything to the right of it. Delete all of those columns.
We also want to highlight column C – ‘Previous Position’ and delete that as well.
Now we’re left with six columns: Keyword, Position, Search Volume, Keyword Difficulty, CPC & Url.
Now highlight ‘Row 1’ and click the sort and filter button.
We’re going to work on Column B (Positions). We want to filter out any results greater than 20.
To accomplish this, we use the ‘Number Filter’ and ‘Less Than.’
Enter ‘20’ into the field next to Position ‘is less than’ in the Custom AutoFilter box that pops up and click ‘OK’.
Next, we’ll work on Column C (Search Volume) and filter out all searches under 100.
Using the ‘Number Filters’ again we’ll click on ‘Greater Than’ and input 100 into the field and click ‘OK.’ Ryan (& Webris) like to work in Google Sheets, so for the sake of this tutorial, we’ll do the same.
Copy all of your filtered data in the Excel file and paste it into a brand new Google sheet.
After you’ve got your Google sheet set up to your liking, we’ll need to ‘Freeze’ the top row to better organize the data.
In the top menu – click on View > Freeze > ‘1 row’, and you’re ready to go.
Now we can filter by page. This will help us discover all of the keyword groupings that Google is ranking for each page. By doing this, the topics will start to present themselves.
Over at the top right locate the filter icon and click it to enable ‘Filter Views.’
Go over to Column F (URL) and Sort from A -> Z.
Now manually scroll down and start identifying the topic groupings.
When I scroll down to https://www.roguefitness.com/lifting-straps-wraps, I hit a large payload of keyword terms.
Rogue’s STRAPS, WRAPS & SUPPORT page is ranking in top 5 positions in Google for terms such as:
[elbow wraps for weightlifting] – Volume: 140
[elbow wraps] – Volume: 590
[weight lifting elbow sleeves] – Volume: 140
[weightlifting wrist wraps] – Volume: 170
[weight lifting elbow sleeve] – Volume: 210
[elbow brace for weightlifting] – Volume: 170
[weight lifting wrist straps] – Volume: 720
[wrist support for weightlifting] – Volume: 170
[weight lifting wrist support] – Volume: 320
[wrist straps for weightlifting] – Volume: 260
[wrist brace for weightlifting] – Volume: 110
[wrist straps weightlifting] – Volume: 110
[knee support for lifting] – Volume: 260
[elbow sleeves weightlifting] – Volume: 170
[weight lifting knee brace] – Volume: 110
[elbow sleeves for weightlifting] – Volume: 880
[elbow compression sleeve for weightlifting] – Volume: 480
[weight lifting wrist brace] – Volume: 110
[weight lifting wraps] – Volume: 170
[lifting elbow sleeve] – Volume: 590
Just with those terms alone, you’re approaching 6000 monthly searches. And don’t forget – we filtered out all terms which receive less than 100 monthly searches. Those longer tail keyword terms could number in the dozens or hundreds and also add up to a significant amount of search traffic.
Back over in our Google sheet we’ll add another column on the right and call it ‘Topic.’ Then we’ll color-code the cells containing similar keyword clusters and topics.
Looking at the URL http://www.roguefitness.com/lifting-straps-wraps/protection-supports/knee-sleeves I can see the Google is ranking that page for multiple terms.
weight lifting knee sleeves]
[powerlifting knee sleeves]
[neoprene knee sleeves]
[knee support gym]
Further down I notice their page – http://www.roguefitness.com/rehband-7751-knee-support – is also ranking for:
[best knee sleeves for squats]
[knee support gym]
[ladies knee support]
So you’ll keep scanning down the page and identify the various keyword clusters until you build out 10 or 20 different topics. Then you’ll enter each of the topic terms into Google and assess the competition to see if you have a fighting chance at the first page of Google.
Robbie Richards modeled some of Ryan Stewart’s strategies and templates and came up with his own method for performing topical keyword research which is also worth a look.
How to Perform Topical Keyword Research (and Scale Organic Growth)
And here’s a quick look at his Google Sheet template that contains all of the stages of his topical keyword research. It took three screen shots – but I got it all. I love how it’s organized.
The above 3 tutorials go quite deep – but there is so much more to SEMrush. Below are some of the best of the rest.
SEMrush Review – 68 Ways To Take Your Site To The Next Level | Matthew Woodward
“In this guide, I want to give you the complete guide to SEMrush to get the data you need.
That means that every single tool you could possibly need to get the data, and the advantage, necessary to make a difference to your rankings.
There’s no fluff here… Instead, it’s just the information you need to get the results you want. If it doesn’t need to be here, it isn’t.”
40 Ways to Use Semrush to Get the Seo Data You Need
SEMrush is a powerful tool for collecting crucial SEO data. Seer shares 40 quick & easy ways to use the tool to gain SEO insights in no time.
SEMrush Review & Tutorial: 34 Ways to Level-Up Your SEM in 2017 | Robbie Richards
Summary: SEMrush is the swiss army knife of online competitor research. Find profitable keyword opportunities, pinpoint high-converting ad and landing page copy, dissect competitor content strategies, audit backlink profiles, identify new site monetization opportunities, track metrics in real-time…and a lot more.
SEMrush is always developing new features for their users. These are the latest reports.