How to Use SEMRUSH For Keyword Research - Full Guide For Beginners

Joran Hofman
August 6, 2020
How to Use SEMRUSH For Keyword Research - Full Guide For Beginners

Keyword research can be a daunting and unclear process if you are just  starting your own website or blog. You want to gain traction with the content you put out and in order to do so you need to be doing the right kind of keyword research. In this article we will take a deep dive into how to use Semrush for keyword research. 

We will take a look at all the right ways to perform keyword research and also ways that you should avoid. After reading our guide you should have a clear step by step process into performing keyword research that can help your website grow by creating the right kind of content.

If you aren’t familiar with Semrush, they are one of the leading SEO research tools for internet marketing. One of their most popular functionalities inside their SEO toolkit is their keyword research section. Their keyword research consists of four unique keyword research elements:

  • Keyword OverView
  • Keyword Magic Tool
  • Keyword Manager
  • Organic Traffic Insights

These keyword research functionalities allow you to find the most effective keywords and phrases for your website or blog. In this article we will take a deep dive into how to properly use them in order to find what kind of content you should be creating in order to quickly grow your website traffic and visibility. 

Keyword Research OverView Tool

The keyword overview tool allows you to run a full scale analysis of the keyword you have in mind to create content for and shows you the relevant competition behind it. You enter in a keyword in the search bar and let the keyword overview tool run it’s magic. 



Once the tool runs your selected keyword you will be presented with some pretty cool information and statistics about the keyword. You should check this information out before you decide to create your content.



From the screenshot above you can see a ton of valuable data about the keyword “social media marketing” that we have selected to review.

Keyword OverView Tool Data

From the overview that has been completed on the keyword we can see the following breakdown information:

  • Monthly Search Volume - This is the monthly search volume that the keyword receives from the United States- 40,500.

  • Keyword Difficulty - The keyword difficulty is an index from 1 to 100% with 100 being the highest level of difficulty. This provides you with a measure of how difficult it would be to organically rank for that keyword with - 81%.
  • Global Search Volume - This is the global search volume received by the keyword from all relevant countries - 159,600
  • Results on SERP - The number of URL’s displayed in organic search results for the keywords - 3.0 billion.

  • Trend - The interest of web searches analyzed in the keyword over the last 12 months. This can show you how the interest has fluctuated for the keyword in the past. 

Why is this Data Relevant ?

This data is important because you get a glimpse into the traffic statistics behind the keyword along with how difficult it is to rank for. In this case there is great monthly traffic for the keyword, but it is very difficult to rank for.

Knowing this information will help you determine whether or not it’s worth it for you to try and compete in the SERP’s for it.

Keyword Variations, Keyword Questions and Related Keywords

In this next section we can see some interesting ways that the keyword is getting searched. In this stage we can begin to compile a list of different phrases the keyword gets mentioned in so we can approach the keyword from a less competitive angle.

Less Competition =  Higher Likelihood to Rank


  • Keyword Variations - Keyword variations will show you different uses of your main keyword in other phrases that exist in search. This is a great way to identify other keywords to target that may be easier to rank for. You can see that the total keyword volume for our keyword is at 262,300. This means there are over 262,300 variations of our keyword used.

  • Questions - These are a list of questions that contain our target keyword. They are great to see so you can properly compile a list of questions to create content for your keyword. The total volume of questions is over 20,300.

  • Related Keywords - They related keywords are different keywords that are being searched online that have a similarity to your main target keyword. They tend to have lower traffic and be much easier to rank for because of the way they are structured. The total volume is 407,800.

Why are Keyword Variations, Questions and Related Keywords Relevant

Keyword variations, questions and related keywords can be extremely effective in helping you create your content structure. They can help you create all the relevant pieces of topics to cover for the content you plan on producing.

You can also see how competitive each of these are in order to position your content to compete accordingly. Using them can help put you content in a position to capture organic traffic quickly.

SERP Analysis

Lastly we have SERP analysis of our keyword. SERP analysis presents you with the list of top ranking websites for the keyword along with their pages. 

This is extremely valuable data that you can tap into to see what your competitors are doing in order to achieve high ranking positions in Google.


Apart from being able to see the top ranking pages for your target keyword you have a ton of other valuable data that can give you further insight into what it takes to rank for your target keyword.

  • PageAS - This is the page authority score. It’s a comparative metric score from 1-100 with 100 being the highest which represents an individual page's ability to rank high in search engines.

  • Ref. Domains - This represents the total number of unique referring domains for your target keyword or phrase.

  • Backlinks - These are the total number of backlinks which lead back to the URL that features your target keyword. These features do follow and no-follow backlinks.

  • Search Traffic - This represents the estimated monthly organic traffic that is driven to the page which features your target keyword.

  • URL Keywords - The URL keywords represents the number of unique keywords that the specific page is ranking for.

I think it’s more than obvious why having this data at your fingertips is valuable to you as a content creator. With this data in hand you can make the informed logical decision of whether or not you should compete for a certain keyword or phrase.

Keyword Magic Tool 

Next on our list of components for the keyword research section inside SEMrush is the infamous keyword magic tool. The keyword magic tools allows us to have a deeper look into the competition density of a keyword, it’s difficulty and other important targeting factors.


It allows you to have a broad overview of the different keywords and their relevant metrics in one central panel. From the panel you have a bunch of different options in regards to finding the most effective keyword to use for your content strategy.

You can quickly sort by the “keyword difficulty” tab and find the highest competition keywords and the lowest competition keywords that feature your main target keyword.

From our screenshot above we can see that the keyword with the highest competition in search is “social media marketing tutorial youtube”. The keyword has a 99% difficulty rating along with a low volume of 90 searches per month. 

This tells you that it’s extremely competitive to create a Youtube tutorial video featuring the keywords “social media marketing tutorial”. It’s also pretty low volume so it wouldn’t be worth your time to do it. 

It’s recommended that you target keywords which have a keyword competition percentage below 50%. Once we make the adjustment in the keyword magic tool we can see the keyword which has competition density below 50%. 

We should also look to make sure that the keyword has enough search volume. The recommended search volume should be between 100 - 1000 per month.

Keyword List Building

At this stage you should begin to compile a list of possible keywords to create content around. From our screenshot we can see that the keyword phrase “social media marketing companies pricing” is a keyword that has some search volume along with keyword density competition below 50%.

After going through a few pages of the SEMrush magic tool, we compiled the following keywords below that have enough search interest and lower competition around our keyword “social media marketing” . We simply added these keywords to our keyword manager tool which makes it super easy to create lists of keywords for research. 


So what does this tell us about the keywords?

We can see that there is lower competition for social media marketing pricing and plans. This means that people are searching for content on social media marketing and prices and companies to manage it for them.

What kind of content can you create around these keywords?

People are searching for information on social media marketing pricing and plans. This can be small to midsize companies looking for someone to manage their social media marketing. 

You can create piece content that gives them an idea on the average pricing for social media marketing management for different industries. 

Content Validation

Next we take a look at the SERP analysis and see what other companies are creating along with their page authority scores and backlink profiles. 



We can see that websites with position ranking #3, #5 and #7 have low page authority scores along with a low number of referring domains and backlinks.

We can have no problem competing for page 1 search results if we create better content and build a few backlinks. You can also see that these pages are receiving some decent traffic. 

But wait there’s more. 

If we click on one of the URL’s from our screenshot below we can gain further information into the traffic behavior.

Result Number #3



This gives us insight into the competitors performance over time on the exact piece of content they published. This is a golden piece of information that shows us what we need to do in order to compete with them. 

Keyword Manager Tool

Next we have the keyword manager tool which makes keyword list building a breeze. As we previously mentioned you can select your keywords which have low competition and build them into a list with the keyword manager tool.



It allows you to separate your keywords in manageable lists to help you make the best decision on what keywords to use for your content. Not only that but it also updates the keyword metrics as they change throughout time. 

This is a great way to evaluate the long term traffic potential of the keywords in a central location.

Organic Traffic Insights 


Organic traffic insights allow you to connect your Google Search Console or Analytics account in order to gain insight on keywords that actually drive organic traffic to your pages. It provides you with an in depth overview of where you currently stand in terms of the keywords you rank for and how difficult they actually are.

They allow you to see data that isn’t available in Google Analytics and the Search Console. It allows you to take a glimpse into your traffic potential down to the keyword.



It allows you to get a deeper understanding of your current keyword rankings and what kind of potential they have if you start improving your backlink profile, updating your content and correcting your on-page SEO factors. 

Conclusion

The keyword research options inside SEMrush provide you with extremely valuable insight into keywords that can help your website grow. It can also help you find keywords you avoid and what kind of competition you have for your keywords. In order to create the right kind of content you have to first learn how to use semrush for keyword research that is relevant to your industry and niche. 

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