How to Use SEMRush: 5 Quick SEO Tips

Are you new to SEMRush? Then stick with me because in this article I’m going to share with you five quick things that you can start doing today to make the most of your SEMRUsh account.

Step 1: filter things out based off of featured snippets

Featured snippets are great ways to build your organic traffic quickly on Google, because they’re the things that take up more space on page one in the Google results. So oftentimes, these featured snippets make for great things to put into either H2 or H3s in your blog posts.

Let’s jump into our computer and take an example with Zapier. Okay. So the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to navigate to the organic research tab for Zapier. And then what we’re going to do is we’re going to set up our criteria to be a hundred to 2000 in volume. And then I’m going to set my keyword difficulty to be less than 80.

As I’ve shown you in other articles if you haven’t already seen that before, be sure to check those out.

I’m going to exclude keywords that contain branded keywords around Zapier. And then I’m also going to include when there is a word count greater than three. So let’s take a look at these results.

When we have filter for this, we can go to the SERP features, go for featured snippets. And once we’ve done that, we’re going to see some of the best keywords that Zapier has. We have things like graphic design apps free, or in other words, free graphic design apps. Online photo editors like Photoshop, how to delete a repository and GitHub as well as how to make Google forms public, or how to remove duplicates in Google sheets.

You’ll see there’s this sort of how to content that is coming up a lot in the featured snippets. When you start to get used to isolating for featured snippets, you’re going to figure out what Google likes to put snippets for. And you’ll find that a lot of times it relates to the five Ws and How. These sorts of questions are often asked by people on Google. And so Google will prioritize these results higher in the rankings.

Step 2: Bucket your long tails together

What you want to do is try to identify opportunities that are related to one another. That way you can tackle more content pieces all in one post or a handful of posts, as opposed to making 10 different posts of the same thing.

Let’s take a look at Zapier again, for an example, so that we can dig into how we might bucket things in Zapier’s results. So the first thing I’ll do is I’ll continue using the filter I already set up and I’ll just add the word how, and from here, when I filter for the how, I will be essentially identifying the how to content that the Zapier team has put together before.

We see things like how to make a Google form public, how to remove duplicates in Google sheets, how to create a Google doc form and so on. And so we can tell here is that Zapier’s probably created some content pieces around Google apps. So if I just searched the word Google, I can also see the buckets of keywords that are similarly related to Google applications. For example, we have Google forms, Google sheets, Google docs, and other Google sheets, Google doc, Google form and so on.

When you start to bucket the keywords of the competitor that you’re looking at, I want you to think about why that competitor specifically thought about those keywords. Maybe it’s because they wanted to create the best how-to content around Google apps because they knew that their entire value proposition was providing integrations between different applications without a direct integration.

So in other words, because Zapier helps connect applications with one another to trigger certain actions, they know that if they create some really valuable content pieces that help people in terms of tackling their common problems around Google docs or Google sheets that they might get also interested in learning more about Zapier and what they can do for them.

This is the purest form of content marketing. It’s a situation in which you can create a content piece that is both educational and integrates your brand or your product into the experience so that you can connect the dots as to how your business relates to the needs of your customers. When you take this sort of bucketing approach, it also makes it a lot easier for you to strategize what your next five to 15 content pieces need to be.

If for example, you saw success with your Google sheets write up, then you know that you probably want to follow that up with a Google docs write up. And if that one saw success, you might want to move on to the next thing like Google forms. It gives you an inclination as to what sort of strategy you should take when it comes to your content strategy.

Step 3: Comb through the top pages of your competitors

Whenever I do consulting sessions around SEMRush, I always tell people to check out the top three to five pages of your nearest competitors. When thinking about your competitors, you want to tackle the ones that are your search competitors, as well as your purest business competitors. By doing this, you have a more holistic view as to what specifically works in the search space of your particular industry.

Let’s go back into our example of checking out Zapier and look at what content is getting them the most results for their organic searches. Okay. So once you’re back in SEMRush, what I want you to do is I want you to access the organic research tab.

And then from here, what you’re going to do is you’re going to want to click pages. And what pages is going to show you, it’s going to show you in descending order, what pages are attributing to what SEMRush’s  crawler thinks is giving your competitors the most traffic. And then from here, you’re going to want to think about the pages and the keywords that were coming up when you were in your organic position section.

What I noticed when I went through the organic position section was that Zapier was making a lot of how to content. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what happens when we filter for just Zapier’s how-to content.

When we look for Zapier’s how to content, as I scroll through the pages, you notice how they use a similar URL structure of slash blog, slash how to. So in this case, what I’m going to do is I’m going to literally type in /blog/how and then the dash, and I’m going to filter my results based off of the URL structure that they commonly use. And from here, I start to get a lot of rich information. For example, I can see that Zapier does really well on these sorts of how two pages. You can see how they are attributing for a decent amount of traffic, they get ranked for hundreds of keywords, if not thousands. And it’s related to all sorts of topics.

We have things like how to use RSS feeds, how to recall an email and outlook, how to change a signature in outlook, how to backup contacts in Google, how to unsend an email in Gmail and so on. So what you can tell is that Zapier is essentially taking this content marketing approach in which they are tackling commonly asked questions around certain applications that people commonly use.

You’ll see things like how to use Dropbox as well, or how to use a personal hotspot. If I were one of Zapier’s competitors, I would get a better understanding of what sort of apps get the most search traffic. And then from there, I would know which ones I need to prioritize if I were to create long form content that wanted to compete with Zapier’s. It’s really important for you to get a lay of the land as to what your competitors are doing exceptionally well. So that you can think about what angle or positioning you can come in at, in order to provide even more value than what they already have.

I want you to take this page as approach with three to five of your competitors. From this process, you should be able to identify at least 15 new potential content ideas for yourself. And then what you might also find helpful is to jump into the competitor’s tab that is right next to the pages tab in SEMRush. The reason why you want to do this. Is because it’ll tell you other pages that are similar to this particular competitor in terms of their search profiles.

This isn’t as helpful in Zapier’s case because they’ve actually covered so much ground in the SEO world that they could bring up a lot of organic search competitors that are not actually directly competitors with them, but just search competitors with them. So for example, as I look at the screen here, what you’ll see is that they get things that are software reviews sites and other sites that reference other B2B applications.

Step 4: Use the Keyword Gap Tool for your two to three nearest competitors.

This is playing on the theme of really following the signs of success that already exists in your space. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to jump into the keyword gap side of things and take a look at what the nearest sites are doing compared to Zapier.

So in order to do this, I’m going to navigate to the keyword gap section on the left-hand side, and then I’m going to add some competitors. So I might add a GetApp as well as HubSpot. And from there, I’m just going to click the compare button. And once I do that, as I scroll down, what I recommend you immediately go to is the untapped section. From here, I always recommend using these sub filters.

What I recommend you do as you filter for where your competitors are ranking from one to five, I recommend that you choose the volume of at least 100 to 2000. And then I also recommend you add in keyword difficulty less than 80, because that is going to not be as competitive when it comes to building up other alternative backlinks and things like that.

So from here, let’s take a look at some of the results that come out. You’ll notice there’s content around a 90 day plan and abandoned cart email, and other topics that we have not covered from the Zapier side of content marketing.

As you scroll down, you’ll even see stuff like the best time to post on Instagram being a phrase that is really interesting. So here’s why this is really valuable for a Zapier content marketing team member. If I know that we don’t cover anything extensively when it comes to abandoned cart emails, then what I might want to do is look at the integrations that our Zapier app does with email providers or with cart integrations, e-commerce integrations, and then build out that content to do the same thing that we’ve done with those earlier posts that I talked about in terms of the Google applications.

Or for example, if we wanted to dig into about us pages, we might want to look at some form submission integrations that Zapier can offer. For example, when somebody jumps on a website and submits a form, having that do something in terms of adding that inquiry into your pipe drive, or some other CRM system that you’re using. Lastly, if we were talking about the Instagram long tails, we might want to come up with some of those integrations with applications that do social media management or something like that.

So the key thing I want you to remember here is you can always follow the trails of success from bigger competitors of yours. Oftentimes, they have already proven the traffic exists there and it’s all about creating something even more valuable for your audience. If you want even more guidance on how to use the Keyword Gap Tool in SEMRush, be sure to check out my SEMRush article a few months ago that I made on that.

Step 5: Isolate for declined positions number six through 10 in your organic search results

If we take the example of Zapier here, what we’re trying to isolate for are the long tail keywords that we recently dropped out of favor in. In other words, these are the keywords that we used to be on the second half of the first page, but now they potentially either dropped to the very bottom of the first page or even the top of the second page.

The problem with this is that if you’re ending up on the second page of the search results, you typically aren’t going to get any meaningful organic traffic that way. So let’s take a look at how we might do this and SEMRush. In order to do this, what you’re going to want to do is go back into the organic research section of SEMRush.

Then you’re going to want to look for positions six through 10. And as you do this, what you then do is you go to this position changes section and then select declined. And what this will show you is it will show you the trends as to what you might be potentially losing some specific traffic around.

So for example, you’ll notice things that if we were to go back and filter for our how to content, we might be able to find that we are losing positions in how to delete duplicates in Excel, how to make a graph in Excel, how to capture screenshots on Mac. And even if I wanted to just look up for my Google related content, I could search for the word Google.

And you can see, some of the keywords that we are losing out on now from this decline report. The reason why this is important is because oftentimes you don’t have to actually create an entirely new piece of content to get an existing piece of content to work its way back up in the ranking.

Instead, you just need to refresh that content with more information or more valuable or more concise information that really addresses the search intent behind the long tail phrase you’re targeting. So every few months or so, I recommend that you check out these declined rankings so you can do a quick lift for yourself in getting those pages back on track without having to necessarily invest in an entirely new piece of content.

Another benefit of this is that it makes your post even more authoritative than it may have already been. And so you’ll continue to get even more back links and other people linking to your site, which will then rise all boats for your organic traffic.

Once you’re done with position six through 10, you can apply the same strategy for positions one through five. The reason why this is really important is because if you have dropped from positions one through five, that means you’re now below the fold in the Google results. So let’s go ahead and take a look at how this might look in Zapier’s case.

Going back to the organic research tab in SEMRush, all we need to do is go here and then change our range from six through 10 to one through five. Run this filter. And then if I want to run for that, how to phrase again, I can search for how, and I’ll start to see some of the things that we are starting to lose our placements in.

And the ones that I would focus more on are the ones that are out of the top three places. So maybe I’d isolate this further to three to five, or I might just look for the ones in which now they’re in position, you know, four or five. So this one, for example, how to create a great survey, how to download Excel sheet from Google drive, et cetera.

I always recommend that aside from these two filters that you play around with the other filters. So for example, the same thing I’ve always done, which is a hundred to about a thousand or 2000. When you filter out for these, these are the ones that are actually going to make the biggest impact in your efforts. So you can see here that we’ve dropped down to fifth place for how to find average on Google sheets. And we also have lost some placements on other things like how to make a chart in Google sheets.

Big takeaways

There are two things that I want you to remember when it comes to using your SEMRush account.

  1. The first one is a common lesson that I teach you, which is to always follow where the traffic already exists. I really don’t believe in investing in content marketing that is a total gamble. In other words, I like to look for where there’s already existing search intent because that’s what we know is actually going to have people on a monthly basis looking for information.
  2. The second thing I want you to remember is to identify content gaps and then fill them as quickly as possible. If you’re doing well in one area, there’s always another area in the ship that you can put your attentions towards.

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