Even if you’re absolutely new to search engine optimization (SEO), you definitely came across the concept of keyword research.
In turn, keyword research is essentially based on two metrics that you should consider for choosing which search queries you should optimize your site for:
Keyword search volume; and
The level of competition for that particular keyword.
While most of the keyword tools are doing a more or less good job detecting how many sites rank for a given keyword (that’s what’s meant by the level of competition), when it comes to returning data for search volumes, they really vary.
This brief guide will walk you through the key aspects of keyword search volume:
What it is;
Why do you need to pay attention to this metric; and
How to pick the best source of keyword search volume data.
Armed with these insights, you will be able to apply this metric to your SEO and marketing efforts—all to build a smarter and more data-driven strategy for your online success.
Keyword Search Volume: What Is It?
Keyword search volume is a metric that reflects how many times users enter a certain query in search engines within a specific period of time.
It’s always best to look at this metric within a monthly timeframe (that’s how most tools do) as it’s closely connected with site traffic, which you typically count monthly.
Why Do You Need Keyword Search Volume Stats?
As 93% of online journeys start with a simple search, knowing which query to optimize for can be the foundation of your online strategy.
While you can experiment with various applications of search volume data, the most popular use cases are:
To prioritize your keyword optimization as search volume stats help to highlight the so-called low-hanging keywords, or search queries that attract the highest number of searches but come with the lowest competition.
To pinpoint seasonality in searches—for instance, if you an August traffic drop to a page dedicated to Valentine’s Day gift ideas, it comes as no surprise as the highest search queries for the “Valentine’s Day gift ideas” keyword come around February. But not everything is this obvious. You might never expect to see seasonality in your target keyword but it can take place and it’s best to know about it—whether you are simply optimizing for the search engines or preparing a marketing campaign.
There are a few more unorthodox uses of keyword search volume data:
Some online businesses—especially e-commerce—use it to evaluate user demand.
Others even employ keyword search stats to shape their product strategy based precisely on these demand evaluations.
How to pick the best source of keyword search volume data
Now that we’ve covered the very basics of keyword search volumes and how to use them, it’s time to unwrap where you can find these stats.
As with most things SEO and digital marketing, you have your Google tools and third-party tools. Google is typically always free while the latter charge for access to data.
It may look like a no-brainer but actually don’t rush to conclude that you can get away with stats coming from Google itself.
Google-native Tools For keyword Research
This subtitle is actually not so accurate as Google doesn’t actually offer any tools for keyword research per se.
With some workaround, you can, though, get hold of some data.
When looking at solutions that provide insights into keyword stats, you’ll always see Google Search Console among the recommendations.
It is a great tool you should turn to on a regular basis, but as for keyword search volume data, it won’t work.
One thing is that Google Search Console only features keyword stats for search queries you already have covered. So you cannot see any data for keywords your site doesn’t rank for, which is a problem as the key aim of keyword research is to actually discover new keywords that you should integrate into your SEO and marketing strategies.
Then, you don’t actually see any keyword search volume data there. Instead, you see impressions that only reflect how many people Googling this or that search query could have seen your link. And keeping the definition of keyword search volume in mind, you can tell that it’s not the same.
It’s a tool for advertisers, which means it should come with more actionable data. And it does, only precise search volume numbers only show up when you are actually running an ad campaign.
The tool let’s call it the free version—when you are just doing some preliminary research for advertising purposes but not actually yet allocating any ad budget—only returns keyword search volume ranges.
This implies that you can only see the real search volume stats when you are ready to allocate some dollars, and that can be the most costly thing to do if you aren’t just operating in an industry with a few tens of target keywords.
Your keyword research that consists of the analysis of 100-500 search queries (the bare minimum of any business) will cost you a lot and require a lot of effort.
Third-Party Tools—the best source of keyword search volume stats?
It’s not hopeless, though. Third-party tools are all here to lend you a hand and return keyword search volumes to help you run keyword research. But there are a lot of options out there.
You can, of course, make a subjective choice and focus on things like pricing, the convenience of use, and so on and so forth. But since keyword search volumes are so important, it’s best to use cold hard data to make your choice of a tool.
While it may seem like there’s an endless number of tools that cover all things keyword research, there are actually a few that go serious about it.
But if we’re taking the quality aspect of a keyword research tool—and that’s the most important one—you are only left with a few options.
Semrush, Moz, and Ahrefs are the most popular solutions in the keyword data market. But it’s extremely hard to make a choice between them. Only data can really show which tool has better search volume data quality, and one research looked into this.
Which Keyword Research Tool Comes With the Most Accurate Search Volume Stats?
This study reviewed keyword search volume data in Semrush, Moz, Ahrefs, Serpstat, Sistrix, and Mangools—the leading industry tools for keyword research.
They compared the stats from these tools against Google Search Console’s impressions count. How’s that accurate comparison? As this methodology reveals, in some instances, GSC impressions data can reflect search volume counts, and the study took exactly the keywords that match these instances. This methodology post elaborates on this approach.
As a cherry on top, they also looked at Google Keyword Planner’s free version just to see whether even the ranges it reflects are more accurate than whatever external tools have to offer.
Now, let’s look at the key discoveries that should help you understand which tool comes with the most accurate search volume data.
Search Volume Data Accuracy
% of keywords that coincide with Google Search Console stats
Semrush has the highest share of keywords matching GSC’s impressions. This implies that accuracy-wise this is the best tool to choose for keyword research.
Keyword Data Coverage
The study didn’t only focus on the pure quality factor, though. It also looked at the data coverage aspect of each tool’s keyword data.
Why? Because while a tool can have very accurate search volume stats, it might not have a wide keyword coverage, which will limit its research capabilities.
Tools typically report on this stat—especially when numbers look good. For instance, the keyword search volume data quality leader Semrush says it returns data for 98% of all US keywords, and the study looked into that, too.
% of keywords with no returned data across each tool
It looks like Semrush wasn’t lying when reporting an almost total keyword data coverage for the US. Other tools—and even curiously Google Keyword Planner’s free version—have much more missing keyword data.
We’ve partnered with Semrush to give you an exclusive 30-day free trial. With this trial, you’ll get access to the PRO subscription for one month and you can cancel it anytime.
Hope you are now well-armed to enter the world of keyword research—you know all there is to know about search volumes, their use cases, and even the top tools that show the most accurate data.
So there are just a few thighs left to keep in mind when interpreting search volume stats:
Take the nature of your industry into account: if you are in a business with a large audience, keyword search volumes will always be higher. But if you’re operating in something very niche, don’t get put off by lower search volume counts.
Don’t just consider search volumes when making your keyword decisions. The competition level is very important as keywords with high searches tend to be extremely competitive so all your optimization efforts can come to naught if large sites are already ranking high for that search query.
Use smart SEO and marketing strategies even when it comes to keyword optimization. If you have a relatively new site or don’t yet have much traffic to work with, always start with low-to-medium keywords. Get some traffic, build up some site authority, and only then move on to targeting higher-volume searches.
What is Semrush, and which of its functions are the most helpful in terms of monitoring and enhancing your search rankings? Here’s everything you need to know
I’ve recently published a post that talks about running an SEO audit for your site, mentioning Semrush as the go-to solution.
And as I’ve had a lot of questions from my readers about the Semrush platform, I’ve decided to give you a well-rounded run-up of the key platform features you should absolutely make use of if you’ve decided to make the most of this exclusive 30-day Semrush trial.
Semrush is a vast toolkit that has over 50 tools that cover all things online visibility, so I don’t want you to think of it as a purely SEO solution. Yet it’s impossible to mention every possible feature within the platform.
Therefore, this post will highlight the most valuable and unique functionality of the toolkit that, to my taste, seems to have it all!
Make sure to go through this post before activating your trial or jumping straight into the Semrush universe!
What Is Semrush?
Semrush is an end-to-end online visibility and content marketing management platform—at least, that’s how the toolkit positions itself in the market.
What does that mean exactly? It implies that its 50+ tools will arm you with all the essentials—mainly data, insights, and hands-on recommendations—that will help to expand your online visibility and expand your reach across the key digital channels.
In a nutshell, Semrush has a few toolkits that cover the following areas of online visibility:
SEO: from rank tracking and keyword research to backlink management and gap analysis;
Online advertising: from historical advertising intel to PPC keyword management;
Market analysis: from identifying the key market players to overall traffic generation trends;
Competitive research: from in-depth traffic insights to audience analysis;
Content marketing: from content ideation and topic research to creating an on-spot brief and optimizing your copy for higher ranks; and
Social media management: from unwrapping competitors’ social media strategies and posting to analytics and launching social media ads.
Looks impressive, right? It actually is. So it can be overwhelming to navigate through the platform if you are entering it for the very first time. So I’d like to make sure that you are using the most valuable features, capitalizing on the power of Semrush’s intel.
Now, let’s get into the details.
Semrush Highlights: Discover the Most Powerful Features of the Platform
As I already mentioned, I won’t get into each and every Semrush tool and feature—otherwise, you’d have to go through thousands of words that can describe the entire platform. Semrush has a dedicated features page that pretty much embraces it all.
Rather, I will outline some of the things you may miss unless you are working with the toolkit on a day-to-day basis, following all of the news and updates. So let’s dive right in!
1. Semrush has the largest and most high-quality keyword database
Semrush has always been well-respected among the SEO community for its keyword research and analysis capabilities.
But the recent algo updates and enhancement gave Semrush’s keyword database an additional push that turned it into the best-in-the-market tool for all things keywords.
But it’s not just about the sheer size, it is also power-packed with the highest-quality search volume data, which is an essential element of your keyword evaluation process.
This study compares Semrush’s search vogue data quality against other popular industry solutions and found that Semrush beats them in all regards.
But you may wonder, what does a database really give you? Well, all the insights and stats you get from keyword tools are based on that database. So if you have access to more keywords and the highest-quality keyword metrics, your analysis and keyword research will just simply work better.
This means that other keyword features I will highlight below are absolutely top-notch compared to any other solution:
Semrush’s keyword tools have both global and local search volume data so you can unwrap interest in a given keyword on different levels, depending on whether you are targeting a local or a global audience. Add a vast list of semantically related keywords, and you can run the most thorough keyword research imaginable.
Semrush also has a very handy keyword difficulty metric that measures how hard or easy it is to win rankings for a given keyword. And its calculations are based on a comprehensive set of criteria it factors in—competition, backlinks, SERP features, and location.
On top of this, Semrush’s keyword tools feature one unique metric—keyword intent. It’s really useful as Google itself now puts more emphasis on meeting user intent rather than on your keyword relevancy. This means that you can create a more relevant keyword and content strategy than ever before! Just because with Semrush, you will know whether a user Googling a certain keyword is in a certain stage of a buying process.
You don’t even have to go outside of Semrush, managing multiple keyword lists you’re downloading throughout your keyword research process. Semrush’s Keyword Manager allows you to keep everything you discover within one spot, filtering your lists by various criteria, or finessing it based on different factors.
2. Fast and furious large: a top-notch backlink database with access to unique backlink tools
As I began my key feature analysis with a keyword database, let’s continue with data quality.
When it comes to backlinks, Semrush also beats all the competition.
I’ve seen some studies that also compared Semrush’s backlinks database up against the competition, finding it to be the biggest and fastest backlink database among other solutions.
This means that Semrush’s backlink insights are also based on the best-quality data.
In fact, when it comes to link-building, Semrush covers the entire scope:
The Backlink Audit tool has over 40 unique toxicity markers that help to assess the overall health of your backlink portfolio, pointing to links that might be harming your site’s performance. Also, it’s a great tool for keeping track of your backlinks as you can easily track any new or lost backlinks, as well as assess their quality.
Backlink Analytics is where you turn to in order to reveal competitors’ link-building strategies and get an in-depth backlink analysis of any domain.
Backlink Gap helps to stack your backlink portfolio up against the competition to see if you are missing out on any backlink opportunities and to help you find new potential partners for expanding your portfolio.
The Link-Building Tool helps you manage your actual link-building process after you reveal all the new opportunities. You can find site owner info, contact them directly from the tool, and add your own notes to keep track of the progress.
As you can see, once again, you get access to full-cycle management of one of the aspects of SEO.
3. The most comprehensive site audit you can get
I’ve shared a very detailed post on how to run a thorough site audit with Semrush, and most of the process can be run with its Site Audit tool.
But if you want some highlights on the tool that gives your audit the widest coverage imaginable, here they are:
This tool has over 140 checks that audit your site for any health issues that might be affecting your organic performance and rankings.
You get to discover issues that range from crawl ability, site speed, and wrong structured data implementation to internal linking, security, and low-quality content.
All the checks you don’t pass come with quick tips on how to make a quick fix so, in most cases, you don’t have to be a technical SEO expert or get into the technicalities to run effective site improvements.
4. On-page improvement ideas that can get your pages to the top of SERPs
Semrush has one unique tool that will get into each individual page of your site and offer actionable improvement ideas. It’s called On-Page SEO Checker.
So even if you fix all the issues with your site and get a 100% score in your site audit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your pages will reach the top spots in Google’s search results. Because while you have to have a perfectly healthy website to even qualify for the top ranks, Google indexes individual pages.
The tool analyses the top-performing pages that compete for the same keywords as you and summarizes the dos and don’ts in a very intuitive way. So you get a set of improvement recommendations based on rivals’ success strategies.
From SEO and SERP features to semantics and user experience—you’ll get a well-rounded list of things to improve if you want to win the top rankings for a certain page.
If you don’t know which pages to start with, I suggest using the tool’s suggestions as it assesses the top-priority pages based on the impact of your improvements. This means that you can make some quick wins with fewer efforts.
5. Automated and efficient rank tracking that keeps you alert to any change
From technical SEO to on- and off-page SEO, you can see that Semrush covers it all. Yet it seems like we missed one of the most important parts of your online success—tracking it!
Google algo updates, new competitors, and many other factors affect your rankings so they never stay the same. This means that you need to take quick action whenever there are early signs of a drop.
I personally think that this tool is way more advanced than any other rank trackers I’ve tried as it goes beyond simple position tracking.
And here’s why:
Semrush has and gives access to mobile data to all of its users regardless of the subscription they are on.
While this is great for any feature, it’s crucial when it comes to rank tracking as you’d want to monitor your mobile rankings as much as desktop. Why? Because in the mobile-first era where users are mostly browsing the web through mobile devices, you’d want to know if your mobile rankings are down. Only a few tools have this kind of data, and more so, make it available to everyone.
Position Tracking allows you to track your rankings on the most granular level—across any device and location, allowing you to specify your target geo down to the ZIP-code level.
The tool also automatically determines your fiercest rivals and helps to benchmark your visibility against their rankings. And given that you can go narrow in specifying your location, it’s the most accurate view of the closest competition. You can even see your share of voice.
You can also go advanced and make use of the tool’s all-rounded SERP feature coverage that (unique!) lets you monitor the local 3-pack.
The tool supports various languages, so if you have a multilingual site, you can specify your target language.
6. End-to-end content marketing capabilities—all you need is to actually write the copy!
At this point, you could be under the impression that Semrush is all about SEO. And it is, but the platform has way more than that!
So I will shift my focus to another aspect of Semrush—namely, its content marketing capabilities.
As you can tell from the title, Semush pretty much covers it all to the point when your entire job comes down to writing the actual copy.
Semrush’s Content Marketing Platform contains a set of tools that help you at every stage of your content success journey:
Topic Researchis designed to give you data-driven topic ideas. You should simply specify your target keyword and location, and the tool will deliver the most popular and resonating topics that you should cover to meet the audience’s interest and needs.
Also, the tool embraces all the questions around that topic, which can help you build up the structure of your copy or add a useful FAQ that might win you a SERP feature.
Once you have your topic, you can use SEO Content Template to create an actionable brief for your copywriter—whether you are writing the content internally or outsourcing. This will be an SEO brief that will help the writer make sure that the copy meets all the necessary SEO specs—keywords, semantics, and text length. The brief also covers things like target readability score and even backlink ideas for further link-building.
SEO Writing Assitant will help to finesse your copy once it’s ready so that it has all the potential to get you to the top of SERPs. It’s an add-on you can add to your Google Docs or WordPress, or you can simply use the tool within the Semrush interface and copy/paste your text.
Once again, just specify your target keyword and location, and the tool will check your rivals’ top strategies and deliver improvement suggestions based on the best practices. From SEO and readability to originality and tone of voice, your text will be thoroughly audited and you will get a set of improvement ideas.
Make sure to implement as many fixes as you can before publishing your content to maximize its potential to appeal to both readers and the search engines!
The tools I mentioned before are all designed to help you with creating new content. But Semrush’s Content Marketing Platform doesn’t stop there.
Chances are, you have underperforming pieces of content that simply need a bit of refinement. Content Auditis the perfect tool to use to spot them. Simply use it to monitor the performance of your content, and use the On-Page SEO Checker or SEO Writing Assistant to make quick improvements to the text or the entire page.
7. Exclusive Deals on Third-Party Marketing Apps
I haven’t even gotten into Semrush’s advertising or social media capabilities. But honestly, they are what you’d expect them to be after my SEO and content marketing coverage—top-notch, helpful, and pretty much covering the entire scope of your job!
While there is a lot more I could cover on Semrush per se, I’d like to highlight one of the perks you get as a Semrush user that isn’t exactly a part of the Semrush solution.
Because it is a truly unique offer and can be handy if you aren’t strictly dealing with online visibility only.
Semrush has recently rolled out a Semrush App Center—a platform that puts together different marketing apps that you can make use of as a paid Semrush user.
This implies that you can’t access these apps if you aren’t a part of the Semrush user base. Semrush hand-picks all the apps that are a part of this platform, which means that they all come with the Semrush quality check!
You better explore the App Centr yourself as it comes with various marketing solutions, but the most useful apps I’ve found cover pretty much everything I need to manage my-to-day marketing job:
Building engaging banners for social media.
Get detailed competitive intel on rivals’ advertising strategies across display, video, and social media.
Cross-browser and cross-device website testing that makes sure your site work correctly whatever device, browser, or location a user comes from.
Finding influencers your audience trusts and engages with.
Unwrapping in-depth audience insights that factor in cultural factors.
Tracking your rankings on YouTube.
Helping e-commerce site owners with product research for Shopify and AliExpress and in-depth e-commerce keyword analytics that reveals the top-performing keywords for major retailers.
There’s much more, but it’s really up to you to discover the right set of apps you might need for your marketing success.
But don’t think that it’s a simple platform that only lists high-quality marketing apps. The App Center makes it much easier to manage all the aspects of your marketing efforts as:
You can save up time and resources you’d otherwise spend looking for the right marketing app.
All the apps comply with Semrush’s UX so you don’t have to go through an entirely new learning curve each time you sign up for a new solution.
You can use a single sign-in, meaning that you don’t have to come up and remember multiple logins and passwords.
And….Semrush features exclusive prices for all the apps that are a part of the App Center so you have access to unique and cheaper pricing!
Semrush: Any Cons?
No unbiased review can come without a round-up of the cons. But honestly, I can barely think of any.
Yet I’d say that the size and power of Semrush that I praise can come as its only con. Because Semrush does require some learning curve as you won’t be able to leverage all of its capabilities in one go.
But I’d say that the Semrush team is doing a great job negating this aspect as they have a lot of helpful resources that will guide your way through the platform:
Emails: once you sign up for Semrush, you’ll receive a set of really helpful emails that help to navigate through your first steps.
Blog: Semrush has a really helpful blog that unwraps how to make use of its tools, but also features the latest industry news and covers a lot of the aspects of marketing—from tips to actionable how-to’s.
Knowledge base: Semrush has a dedicated spot that reveals the ins and out of all of its tools and features. It has useful “how to get started” articles that will also help to find your way around the platform.
Semrush Academy: If you’re less of a reader, you can browse FREE courses from the Semrush Academy to not only learn about the specific Semrush toolkits and tools but also take a deeper dive into the various aspects of marketing—from SEO and advertising to content marketing and digital PR.
Customer service: if all the resources from the above aren’t enough, you can always get a helping hand from one of the Semrush team members. They offer customer support across any channel imaginable—from emails and web chats to social media and phone.
What’s Semrush’s Pricing?
Now that we’ve scratched the surface of what Semrush is capable of and what perks you can expect to receive as a Semrush user, it’s time to get to the most interesting part—pricing.
You might be wondering how much does all this goodness cost?
Semrush comes under three plans that cost from $119/mo (PRO plan) to $449/mo (Business plan):
The key difference between the plans is access to various features and different limits.
While there are a lot of nuances that you can get into on Semrush’s pricing page, you can determine your plan based on the size of your business—if you’re a startup, a fairly new business, and don’t have super-large or multiple sites to manage, a PRO plan should definitely suffice. If you have a large enterprise and have to manage a few businesses (say, you own a digital marketing agency), you might need a bigger Guru plan.
Yet if you like the solution, I recommend signing up for an annual subscription as you get a pretty substantial discount—the PRO plan will then come at $100/mo.
Whatever your plan, in return, you get access to everything you need for creating a smart and efficient marketing strategy for your business:
Over 50 tools that cover various parts of digital marketing.
In-depth data and insights that easily span from one tool and report to another.
Smooth and intuitive management and reporting capabilities.
If you are almost fully ready to try Semrush’s power to yourself, you may want to try out an exclusive free 30-day trial before signing up for whatever plan fits your needs! This is an exclusive offer that’s available to my readers only so make sure to use this quick guide and make the most of your experience with Semrush!