SEO Tool Review: SEM Rush
The following is a review of SEM Rush. SEM Rush did give us a three month pro membership in exchange for this review, however, both parties agreed the review would be unbiased and would contain just the facts. If you feel this review was biased in any way please leave us your remarks in the comments or shoot me an email. I should also go ahead and admit I’ve been a member of SEM Rush for a while now:
I first signed up for their service when I was working for a non-profit in Kansas City. It was a free service to look at some data and compare ourselves against some others in the area. Since our site wasn’t any bigger than twenty pages there wasn’t a huge pull to go for the pro services. So now I’ve had a chance to see what I was missing, on to the review!
What is SEM Rush?
SEM Rush is a part of the SEO Quake team, whom all SEOs know make a killer addon to FireFox. SEM Rush is a tool that analyzes site(s) ranking, traffic, keywords, adwords, trends and much more. These guys also partner with some well-known SEO/SEM groups and resources such as The SEO Dojo, Raven Tools and SEO Book.com.
What They Provide:
The free version isn’t all that bad, because well, it’s free. It allows you to run 10 reports a day and gather some pretty decent intel, which is good if you’re a small business doing it yourself or have someone else on staff. One thing I really like is when it shows the cut off:
Why you ask? Because the numbers shown are the same numbers you’ll see when you go pro. You get to see the keywords and pages that are ranking. It’s a little taste of what you’ll get when you upgrade your account. This is really nice when trying to get your boss/client to spring for the pro account. Instead of seeing a typical “must upgrade to view stats”, they’ll see partial numbers and data that will spark their interest. And when the upgrade happens, the rest of the data is visible (and you get to run 3,000 reports):
If you notice the little notepad image to the right of the results you’ll get to see a little snap shot of the current search results for that keyphrase. It’s nice to see a quick shot of what the SERPs look like for a keyterm your site is being found by without having to go run individual queries. It should be noted though that these “snap shots” are the current Google cache for that search and it may not reflect what you’re looking at. This function to view the SERPs is also available when you’re checking out the Ad Words competition.
You want to check out the ads your competition is using? SEM Rush’s nifty Ad Words integration not only allows you to see how much the competition is spending on ads, including the cost per click, but also lets you see what ads they are using. I don’t spend a great deal of my time in PPC, but if I did I could see myself really using this function a lot.
The traffic/trend comparison is a great visual tool to not only compare how sites stack up side by side but also allows you to see what kind of hit the competition takes when Google rolls out algorithm changes. You’re able to sort the data by search engine traffic, search engine traffic price, number of ads, ad traffic and ad traffic price. That’s really good insight to see where the competition is focusing their time and money at.
<shinyobject>when you drag your mouse along the graph the pie chart will automatically reflect the data to match the current position of the mouse</shinyobject>
The keyword research is similar to the Google Adwords Keyword tool in that it will show you the word you searched for and relates results but will add some more info. You’ll also see the top twenty organic competitors ranking for that term as well as the top twenty ad buyers for that term. It’ll also show you the trending traffic created from those phrases in addition to the estimated cost of clicks for them as well. And like with all of the data that can be generated in SEM Rush, it can be exported.
Exporting/Embedding The Reports
Anytime I can export data to look at it further offline, I’m all for it. Sure, SEM Rush gives you the ability to view the data in charts and graphs online but what if you want to customize your own in Excel? In addition to being able to export the results, SEM Rush will provide you with an embed code. I can’t imagine using this to put on a client site, but for some reason if you wanted to show off the traffic your clients were getting they have a way to let you do that.
My Final Thoughts
The biggest difference between the free and pro account is the amount of information seen and the number of reports one can run a day. If you’re a small business that can get by on 10 reports a day then a free account may be all you need, but realize the amount of data you get is limited. If you’re a freelancer or agency with multiple clients in competitive niches then the pro account may be the way to go for you.
So at this point you may be thinking okay Josh, what faults are there with it? The biggest thing I’m not a huge fan of is that it won’t show any data unless your site is ranking in the top twenty for the phrase you’re targeting. Which only means you have to keeping working at it to get in the top twenty, but you can compare the data of those already there. For instance, a client has just started in the travel niche (very competitive). When I run a report in SEM Rush I see all of the brand terms they are ranking for and a few long tail results, but no results for the bigger more competitive terms they are targeting.
I also found a few instances of the report generator showing more and less reports that I had run. Since I never used all 3,000 of the reports I could run I wasn’t able to figure out if the report counter was accurate. This leads me to my next point.
The jump from 10 reports a day and to 3,000 is a HUGE leap. Yeah you get more data, but what if you’re a small business that doesn’t need to run 3,000 reports a day much less 3,000 reports a month? When I worked for that non-profit in Kansas City I and used SEM Rush to collect data it would have been nice to have the pro account, had there been a smaller package available it would’ve been an easier sell (my budget was $0). It would be nice if they had a package focused at small businesses not to mention if their data allowed for more than just the top twenty results.
I don’t have a problem with the data they are providing. After all Raven Tools uses SEM Rush’s API for their own services. So if those guys trust the data provided, why wouldn’t you? You can read this review again or even read the tutorials SEM Rush has on their site, but you won’t know what you think unless you try it yourself. SEM Rush is providing a *free two week trial of the pro account (reports only up to 500 a day), so at the very least check out SEM Rush and leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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