Where do I begin? Keyword research, competitive audits, keyword tracking, social monitoring, local listing monitoring are just a few of the things you can do with the tool. It's got pretty much everything you ever need. I particularly like the historical data in the keywords report which allow you to track your historical listings/rankings on a page by page basis.
Cons: To an untrained eye, SEMrush can be a little overwhelming just because of the amount of data everywhere on the screen. It took me a whole week just to have some understanding of the program when I was first introduced to it. Even 2 years later..and I still find new things I didn't know before. So is it a con? Maybe not so much but to some it could be.
The depth of your articles impresses and amazes me. I love all the specific examples and tool recommendations. You discuss the importance of backlinks. How important is it to use a tool to list you on directories (Yext, Moz Local, Synup or JJUMP)? Will Google penalize you for listing on unimportant directories? Is it better to avoid these tools and get backlinks one at a time and avoid all but a few key directories? 

There are numerous SEO tools out in the market, however, if link building is the topic at hand, then I honestly think that using Ahrefs is enough. Starting with the dashboard – just input the details of your site and your keywords, then it will give your potential competitors. It’s easy to use and it also has one of the best features for finding broken links, curating skyscraper articles, and link reclamation.
The Advertising Research report is mainly intended to improve your advertising campaigns by providing a glimpse into what the competition is doing. You will find out how the competition is leveraging PPC investments by viewing their traffic, volume, CPC estimations, etc. for every keyword. Plus, you’ll discover valuable information which allows for businesses to improve their PPC system and work on reducing the advertising budget by yielding better results. After all, there is a lot you can learn from a seasoned competitor who may have spent thousands of dollars honing their campaign.

As of September 2014, YouTube's own keyword tool stopped working. It was moved over to Display Planner's AdWords video keyword suggestions. To use it, you need to have an Google Ads account. Just like the non-existent YouTube keyword tool, it was created to facilitate paid video and ads promotion. Which is why keywords that you will find there might not be closely related to the topic that you want to cover.
Pros: I own a small ecommerce business so analytics is critical for our success. I've tried a few other SEO services in the past but nothing beats SemRush in terms of features and accessibility. While other services' interfaces are clunky and hard to understand, SemRush lays everything out on their page in an easy-to-use format. The features are incredible, especially the Site Audit, which compares your keyword goals to the content that is already on your site and gives you tips on how you can rank higher for your chosen keywords. Even more incredibly, they provide "SEO templates" which makes content creation easy and friendly. It's nice to have such an easy platform for writing excellent-quality articles that converst. When you're only using Google Analytics, there's still a ton of information about your content and backlinks that you're not really seeing. SemRush makes this information available to you.
Great article. Before reading this I was practically sold on SEMrush. However, after reading this article and the comments from other readers, I’m realizing I shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger and that Ahrefs may in fact be what I’m looking for. I will most likely do the trial period for both before deciding, but this article definitely opened my eyes to Ahrefs possibly being my best option (instead of SEMrush). Thanks for taking the time to write this article. Great work.
Any SEO specialist worth his salt knows the importance of backlinks. No SEO campaign can be complete without good quality do-follow and no-follow backlinks from forums, blogs, news websites, etc. within the niche. The Backlinks Report provided by SEMRush provides thorough information regarding geolocation, rank authority and the number of incoming links. These links are seen as votes in favor of your website’s relevance to the subject or niche, in addition to being voted up for credibility and trustworthiness.
I really like the projects you can set up in SEMrush. We have a lot of different solutions so I create projects for each one with specific keywords. Then I used the project dashboard to see how that set of keywords is ranking, trending, SEO suggestions, social etc. I also like that within the project you can see specific landing pages and what keywords are ranking for that landing page.
Setting up the SEO Writing Assistant is pretty easy and is available at present only for the Google Chrome browser and WordPress. It is compatible with Google Docs which is a good start. To begin with, you need to head over to the download page, log-in (if you don’t have an account one will need to be created), choose to install the browser plugin and activate it post installation.
Thanks so much for offering this helpful tool. It is very useful. In case you want feedback, I think it would be great if you could please also consider including another column to display the linked page (i.e., the actual page that the backlink goes to on the domain). When selecting “All pages on this domain” it is difficult to know which page each backlink is going to on the domain. Thanks for your consideration.
Another feature of Ahrefs that could potentially help you take your campaign to even better heights is their content gap feature. It gives you the option to check which keywords your competitors are ranking for so you can stay one step ahead at all times. Basically speaking, Ahrefs gives SEOs the ability to overtake their competitors through knowing which keywords to target and focus on.
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