SEM Rush Review

 

Introducing the tool

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SEM Rush has long been the go-to tool for many search marketers conducting keyword research and competitor analysis for both paid search and SEO campaigns. Now SEM Rush also includes a host of other features for managing SEO campaigns including rank tracking, backlink intelligence and onsite SEO performance.

With a host of new features available alongside the long standing research tools SEM Rush becomes a useful all-in-one type tool similar to the likes of Moz Analytics or AnalyticsSEO and given the reputation of SEM Rush in the search industry we thought it was well overdue a comprehensive review.

Rank tracking and ranking reports

The rank tracker within SEM Rush gives many of the features we’ve become accustomed to with cloud based rank tracking solutions like daily keyword position updates and data overlays allowing you to slice and dice your ranking data with your competitors in a number of clever ways.

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The interface is good, a little less intuitive than SE Ranking, but simpler than the desktop ranking tools like AWR and SEO Powersuite.

SEM Rush give you a visibility score which updates daily and gives a snapshot of how your visibility is changing compared to your competition – useful if you’ve got a lot of keywords in your account. However unlike AWR’s visibility score which only awards you any points if you’re ranking somewhere in the top 30 positions, SEM Rush appear to count any rankings inside the top 100 results towards your visibility score. Obviously a keyword ranking on page 9 of results won’t be doing you much good so I’m not sure this is the most useful way to calculate visibility.

As you drill down more into the ranking reports you can get a detailed, daily view of your rankings for every keyword in your project:

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The SEM Rush “Position Tracking” tool is included with each level of plan (with different keyword allowances depending on how much you’re paying).

Keyword research

One of the most powerful features of SEM Rush is its keyword research tools which let you search for keyword ideas not just using rudimentary traffic estimates but also using competitors domains, so for example you enter the domain of your competitor and SEM Rush will show you the most popular keywords that competitor is already ranking for.

No other tool we’ve looked at has this level of sophistication in its research tools however I do think more work is needed on the interface to join up these classic SEM Rush features with the newer “Projects” part of the interface.  For example I could research keywords using the “Organic research” tool but upon drilling down to find a keyword I liked I couldn’t see a way to then add that keyword into one of my projects without having to copy it manually, leave the screen and then type it into my project settings. As we’ve noted previously with a tool like Moz, there may be some joining up work to do between the tools – this is something that Raven tends to do well.

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Link Building & Management

SEM Rush does have some features for backlink auditing and potentially link building but these are relatively basic and probably not sufficient for running a link building campaign in the way you can with BuzzStream or doing heavy duty link research in the way you can with Link Research Tools.

SEM Rush’s backlink reports can be used to do research on your own links or a competitors, so for example as with a tool like Open Site Explorer inside Moz you can see a list of who links to your competitors and in theory go through this list and try and replicate some of these links or unpick your competitors strategies.

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This tool works nicely and gives a handy Page Score which is a representation of how powerful a link is on a scale of 0-100, similar to Moz’ page authority metric.

Results can be exported to create a master list or to import into a link CRM like BuzzStream for conducting outreach. Although these are much better tools on the market for link research, if you only occasionally do this kind of work then the backlinks tool in SEM Rush may be all you need.

Onsite Optimisation

SEM Rush comes with a Site Audit tool which is equipped with many of the features we’ve come accustomed to when it comes to onsite optimisation reporting. The tool will crawl your website looking for issues which could trip you up with search engines, or things which are not optimal for search engines on your front end.

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There’s nothing revolutionary here, its mostly the same checks which these tools always tend to do ranging from critical issues like broken links to fairly generic advice about including alt tags on your images.

These reports would be client friendly if you’re an agency user, particularly as you can do a before and after style comparison where you could identify the issues first off, fix them for the client then send them another report after you’ve fixed stuff.

Ultimately though I think this type of tool is going to be less useful than Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) for identifying and troubleshooting onsite issues such as these.

Pricing

SEM Rush have a range of monthly subscriptions from $69.95 (approx £46) to $549.95 (£362) per month.

All the plans give access to the majority of core features, the more expensive plans give you more reports, more results and access to things like branded PDF reports (for client reporting). The cheapest plan “pro” does give generous allowances for access to data and tracking of up to 500 keyword rankings. Agencies with more than a few users or clients will probably need the larger plans.

I think SEM Rush provides quite good value for money, particularly if you’re able to use the tool exclusively for your rank tracking or onsite optimisation, forgoing the need for additional tools. Many of the features of SEM Rush are more geared up for PPC advertisers rather than SEO’s so if you run both SEO and PPC for clients then you’re going to get even better value from SEM Rush.

As with many of the monthly subscription services we’ve reviewed you can save around 2 months worth of costs per year by paying for your subscription annually.

Conclusions

There’s quite a bit more to SEM Rush than what we’ve covered in this review, particularly if you’re using it for paid search as well as SEO. In that sense its different to most of the tools we’ve looked at which have been very SEO focused with the concessional nod to PPC, as with Raven’s Google AdWord’s integration. It makes sense if you’re a multi-disciplined search agency or handling the SEO and PPC in-house for your employer that a tool which has applications for both paid and organic is going to be beneficial and may offer a cost saving. But there’s also plenty of reasons to like SEM Rush as a pure SEO tool. Its keyword research capabilities are the best of any of the tools we’ve reviewed and it has a solid rank checking and site auditing tool built in. Where it could improve and become more of an “all in one” SEO management tool would be through better integrations across toolsets, and improved workflow between various tools and a stronger offering around links.

Go back to  SEO tools comparison report.

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