SEMRush Project Key Features – Part One

I think I’ve heard it all this year, content, links, anchor text… did I mention content? Yes, 2017 is nearly upon us, and 2016 has been a mad one (politics, SEO, you name it) so we need to make sure we’re working as efficiently and effectively as possible to really smash it. If you know me, I’m all about efficiency – it’s practically my middle name – so that’s why I want to share with you some of my insights and hopefully help you working better and faster.

One of my favourite tools is SEMRush. That’s why I want share with some of my highlights that will hopefully give you a bit of a head start for the coming year.

So when it comes to SEO, if you’re not using SEMRush, you’re majorly missing out. Having all of their information in one place makes SEMRush without a doubt one of the best tools on the market. And in terms of what we really use and need – collating key statistics about competitors, monitoring domain visibility, site health, and conducting SEO and PPC keyword research – it really is the whole package.

For this reason, I’ll no doubt be talking a whole lot about SEMRush and the various features that you’ll want to use on a day to day basis. But today I’d like to go into one of my favourite tools: Projects.

What is SEMRush?

SEMRush is a fantastic SEO tool that allows you a comprehensive interface within which to research and analyse: keywords, keyword rankings, competitors and their rankings, backlinks, PPC, social media, advertising – and carry out a full audit of your domain.

What is SEMRush Projects?

Projects is a dashboard for some more detailed, in-depth analysis of your bigger clients (or projects). There are 8 sections:

Site Audit – for checking website health
Social Media Tool – to monitor your social media and compare to competitors’ profiles
PPC Keyword Tool – to manage and sort PPC keywords and negative keywords
Position Tracking – for tracking your SERP positions with competitors’
Brand Monitoring – tracking brand mentions and reviews
Organic Traffic Insights – SEMRush version of Google Analytics + individual page breakdown
SEO Ideas – content and technical ideas, client reports and analysis of KWs
Backlink Audit – backlink profile breakdown with lost and found backlinks

With the help of these tools you can manage a fair chunk (albeit not all) of the area that matter to your site and your ongoing campaigns, and I shall be initially taking you through some of my initial highlights over the coming weeks. Following that I shall be looking to compiling a more comprehensive guide for your viewing pleasure, but that shall be coming out after a little while (bear with me!).

How do I set up a Project in SEMRush?

Create a project by clicking on the ‘View All’ Projects main page and ‘Add New Project’ at the top right. Now the fun starts.

create semrush project

I’m going to use the Psychologies Magazine for my example because they’re nice and big so we’ll get to see some good metrics – plus I quite like them. They’re a cool mag. Anyway, this is the magnificent pane that opens:

Dashboard semrush projects

I’m not going to go through all the details for each of these (that’ll be for our later article, or more likely a downloadable pdf, we shall see…). No, today and in the subsequent chapters of this blog series I’m just going to highlight some of the juicy bits that you can really sink your teeth into.

Today is all about the glory that is Column 1: Site Audit, Social and PPC

Site audit social media tool ppc tool


In the overview you can see a SEM generated health score of the site which is a fair indicator of how your domain is performing, but is a bit vague. We need to dive in to get to the good stuff.

audit overview

Once in the Site Audit Tool, you get a really nifty snapshot of the health of your site – all of which is great for breaking down the issues behind the scenes.

Site audit tool main panel

Audit Highlight: Statistic Tab

My highlight for you today however is the new Statistics tab, because… surprisingly enough… it has some good statistics.

audit statistics tab projects

Here you can have a look at the finer details of some important on-page category issues/features, and the simple layout makes it dead easy to see which parts need a bit of TLC. From the percentage of AMP (accelerated mobile pages), crawl depth and number of clicks, to schema optimisation, it’s a much nicer looking breakdown than you get in Screaming Frog.


For us white hats at Bright Design (if the hat even existed in the first place), quality content and building websites for visitors is our focus. So, for me, the social media snapshot is one of my favourite way to get a quick insight into what is engaging users in our field.

social twitter facebook posts projects

Social Highlight: Posts Tab

To get into the nitty gritty of what works and why it does, the posts tab allows us a window into the real stats, so we can highlight key topics that are coming top for engagement.

social media tab semrush projects

Here I sort by the Engagement Rate so that I can group the most popular posts into themes and common factors which I can then analyse before deciding what content to create myself.


Basic tool highlights

The feature to ‘Clean Keywords’ under the ‘Actions’ dropdown is useful for removing special characters (such as periods and symbols) but I would be careful removing some of the ‘fluffy’ words that Google now might be using to interpret longer tail terms thanks to RankBrain.

clean keywords in ppc projects semrush tool

However, the Removing Duplicates tool can be an absolute gem and mega timesaver when it comes to importing and sorting bigger/multiple combined KW files.

But by far the thing you need to make the most of here is the Negative Keywords.

PPC Highlight: Negative Keywords


What are Negative Keywords?

Negative Keywords are keywords or phrases you can input to help filter out who your ads will be served to in the search results. Therefore, if the keyword or phrase frequently comes up with some of your other keywords but has nothing to do with your campaign, you can add it to this Negative Keyword category and SE’s will remove you from irrelevant results. This is useful since it removes useless traffic coming to your site and subsequently, unnecessary bounces – and sometimes damaging topic associations (eg. the wrong topics or topics with bad reputations).

Sometimes it’s good to be negative

Many companies new to PPC make the mistake of not utilising this tool effectively, both in cross-group negatives (negatives across their ads) and by not updating negatives when pulling in new keywords or bidding on broad terms.

negative keywords semrush projects ppc tool

The above keywords/phrases won’t be useful terms for Psychologies Magazine to rank for, so we’d need to keep refining these so we get the best results and provide users with what they’re looking for.

To Round Up

I hope this article has helped bring some of these features to light, and get you fired up ready to try out some of these tools (although no doubt you’re doing so already), but please let me know what you found interesting or which part you’d like to hear more about.

Next week I shall be continuing onto our SEMRush Project highlights for the next column – so stay tuned folks!


SEM Rush