The guys over at SEM Rush reached out to us recently and asked if we would consider reviewing the professional version of their toolkit. We are pretty selective about the product reviews we do on Web Analytics World but I was keen to do this review for a few reasons. For one these are the guys behind the legendary seoquake toolbar for firefox (one of the best free seo tools around) but in addition to this I am also a semi regular user of the very useful free online SEM Rush tools so I was keen to see what the pro version had to offer.
As active online marketers we have a bunch of tools and services which we use to varying degrees, some free and some we pay for. Often the biggest problem we find with the tools available is the range of things they claim to do and the amount of cross over functionality between toolkits, so we find ourselves constantly trying to evaluate what does the best job for specific purposes.
One of the things I really like about SEM Rush is that it has a very defined purpose and specialises in a key area of online marketing. In a nutshell SEM Rush is all about maximising Google traffic and as such its toolkit helps with Keyword Research, Google Adwords Research & Competitor Analysis in these areas. Of course every online marketing toolkit claims to help with keyword research (and I have had a go at using most of them) however what separates SEM Rush from the others for me is the way it relates all data to relative commercial value by putting Adword data side by side with Keyword reports, competitor Analysis etc
Organic Keyword Research
So a basic keyword research screenshot of www.webanalyticsworld.net site is shown below. The data here at a glance is pretty useful as I can immediately see the commercial values of some of the keywords our site ranks for. Expanding this report would then give me the chance to spot highly commercial keywords with good search volume that our site ranks for but perhaps is sitting on page 2 or 3 on a Google search. I could then make some decisions to focus on these keywords from a promotion/seo perspective
Obviously decisions around keywords also need to be in line with business strategy however you can see how this can be a useful tactic. One thing that I didn’t understand was the total number of keywords showing on our site (1085) when I know from our Analytics that this number is much much higher. I queried this with the guys at SEM Rush and they say that they focus on keywords with commercial value which is reasonable enough & their entire database has 88 million keywords across 36 million domains.
The basic report as shown to the right also gives you some data on site-wide Google traffic , indicating the monthly traffic coming from Google Searches, the estimated cost of purchasing the same amount of traffic (indicator of commercial value of organic traffic) and the traffic volume from ads and related spend on Adwords
Google Adwords Keyword Research
I found the tool particularly useful for Adwords Research. The screenshot below shows a snapshot of a section of the adwords report again using Amazon.com as an example. You can immediately see all of the keywords Amazon are buying from Google Adwords. The geographic split allows you to drill down and find out how and what, they are advertising in specific geographies and clicking on the Ad icon to the left will actually show you the ad copy of a specific ad in question. In term of easy competitor Adwords analysis it doesn’t get much better than this. Clicking on a specific keyword will then take you to another report which will give you even more data on the keyword in question such as traffic, trends, competition as a well as some suggestions on related keywords and key phrases & organic sites ranking for this particular keyword.
I hear lots of talk of competitor Analysis but rarely see any reporting mechanism on competitors that lead to actionable recommendations and associated tasks. Fundamentally it’s important to ask yourself why you want to analyse competitors.
Sure it’s nice to benchmark your site and see how well you are performing against your main rivals online but useful competitor research should be more about looking out for best practice & learning from it as well as pulling out data based on key metrics allowing you to understand why one site outperforms another and actually come up with an actionable plan to gain traction, rankings, traffic and improve on a competitors position.
The SEMRush tools will allow you to do the basic competitor analysis but filter based on Search engine traffic (Google traffic), Traffic Price (commercial value of the traffic), number of ads running, ad traffic and ads traffic price. While this can paint a very interesting picture of competitors Google reach across the board some of the more useful interrogations of the SEMrush data would include:-
- Identification of highly commercial keywords – Analyse keyword reports for competitors and look for new keywords with high CPC value and good search traffic.
- Build out Keyword Lists- You could use related search analysis to analyse existing and new keywords to find variations, long tail versions etc which can be used on your web copy
- Identify smart and relevant places to sell advertising –The Potential Ad Buyers Report will identify sites that buy Google Adwords keywords for terms that your site is naturally ranking for. This is a good indicator that they may be interested in your traffic and as a result may be willing to buy advertising space from your directly or through an ad network.
- Identify smart and relevant places to advertise –This report will Analyse what keywords you are bidding on and identify sites which naturally rank for those terms. This highlight the opportunities to contact site owners directly and either advertise directly with them or possibly even become a content contributor if you choose to go down the natural seo, link building route
- View and analyse Adwords keywords, commercial value of keywords and ad copy –To be frank this allows you to spy on Adwords campaigns of your competitors, see where they are targeting geographically and what terms they are bidding on as well as the actually ad copy they are using in their campaigns. This gives yu the insights you needs to be smarter when looking to buy website traffic
- Find hidden related (and low-cost) keywords? –Focussing on high commercial value keyword and using the related keyword report you can often find low cost alternative keywords (low adwords cost) which are still very relevant and may convert just as well (related and long tail keywords)
- Help to value a web property –The Traffic volume and relative valuation charts will help you when trying to assess the commercial value of any web property. There are many other factors to be considered here obviously but from a Search point of view this data is a big piece of the pie.
- Other Fun Stuff – The feature ‘ups and downs’ shows a huge list of the top 1000 websites highlighting losses and gains in relation to Search Traffic, Cost of traffic, Number of Ads, Ad traffic, Cost of Ads. While this seems like a report that might not be directly relevant to your own online efforts the collation of this data makes for fascinating reading. You can see how this type of report can give some amazing insights into how Google is changing, the sites it favours and so.