Semrush 101: Getting Started Guide + Free Checklist Download

Luke Harsel

May 05, 20226 min read
Semrush Getting Started Guide


Semrush is so much more than just a tool. It’s a full suite of data, tools, and solutions to help you face every kind of marketing challenge. 

So, where should you begin? Right here, with this Semrush getting started guide.

Let’s start by talking about your goals.

No matter the shape or size of your goals, the process should look something like this:

  1. Measure
  2. Report
  3. Improve
  4. Report again

You can measure your current online visibility, improve your online presence, and then report the results of your efforts with automated PDFs and emails all through Semrush.

More than just a set of tools to hit your goals, Semrush is also a place to learn. 

You can learn all the digital marketing essentials, tips and tricks from experts, and best practices from resources like our blog and Semrush Academy.


Now, let’s show you how to measure, improve, and report on your goals with Semrush. 

Step 1. Measure Where You Are Today

The first step is to understand where your online presence currently stands. Then, you can let the data and tips from Semrush guide you to your next steps.

You can find out where you stand in terms of keywords, content, technical SEO health, and backlinks pretty quickly.

Then, based on what you want to do with your site, you can decide where to start getting data and building a plan. 

To understand where you are today, you can start by launching a Project. A Semrush Project allows you to set up 11 different tools that can track and monitor your website, social media, and content. 

Semrush Projects give you 11 tools to track and monitor your online visibility.

For help setting up your first Project, read Managing a Project from the Semrush Knowledge Base.

How Can I Measure My Current Visibility for SEO Keywords?

Answer: Position Tracking

The best way to measure your SEO keywords is to first find everything your website already ranks for. 

To find those keywords, the best place would be to look in your Google Search Console account. Go to Performance—Search Results—Queries and export this list of keywords where your site had impressions. 

Then, you can import these keywords to Position Tracking in the configuration steps and see your current visibility for the keywords you already have. 


This SEO tool will help you measure:

  • Current visibility for target keywords
  • Search volume and CPC of those keywords
  • Your top competitors’ visibility for the same keywords
  • Which pages on your site are currently ranking
  • Featured snippet opportunities
  • Keyword cannibalization
  • Keyword intent
  • SEO growth over time
  • Share of voice (with a Business subscription)

Position Tracking comes with tons of helpful features and can track your keywords in multiple cities in the same campaign, so be sure to play around with this tool. 

Tip: If you don’t have access to the website’s Google Search Console, you can find a site’s top keyword rankings with the Organic Research—Positions report.

How Can I Measure My Website’s Technical SEO Health?

Answer: Site Audit

Another major part of your Project is the Site Audit tool. Choose how much of your site to crawl in the configuration steps, and we’ll return a full audit of your site, checking for over 140 common issues. You’ll also get a Site Health score at the end.


This score tells you if your site structure and code are healthy for SEO, or if you need to make any changes. 

The audit comes with a to-do list of how to fix each technical issue. You can share the next steps with your team and get to work right away (look for the “About this issue” and “How to fix it” explanations next to your list of site issues).


More Tools to Measure Your Online Visibility Today

  1. Review your website content’s performance and most recent update date with Content Audit.
  2. Analyze your current content’s on-page SEO with On Page SEO Checker.
  3. Measure your and your competitors’ social media engagement, audience size, and growth in multiple channels with the Social Media Tracker
  4. Track the daily online mentions of your brand name with Brand Monitoring.
  5. See all of your website’s backlinks and benchmark your profile against your competitors with Backlink Analytics.

Step 2. Put Together Your First Report

Any digital marketing work needs to be reported on if you want to earn trust, make money, and keep your job. 

A common timetable for SEO progress reports is monthly, but you could also report on a weekly basis. Maybe you could send weekly progress reports to yourself and monthly reports to your client. 

Out of all the progress reports you’ll make, this initial report may be the most important one of all. Why?

Your first report sets the foundation and communicates what needs to change. 

If you can show someone everything that’s wrong with their website, and how far behind the competition they are, you should have their attention. 

Then, you can establish a set of KPIs that you’ll aim for in the coming months. 

Semrush makes it pretty easy with My Reports, the drag and drop PDF builder, and a handful of templates ready to go. 


When you build your report, you can import data directly from Site Audit, Position Tracking, and other Semrush tools with the drag and drop widgets. 

It’s a good idea to include data from Project tools in your reports because as you run your campaigns, those tools will track your progress. The widgets in the report will automatically update with the current data for the week/month.


You can also customize the report with your own screenshots and images, and even brand or white-label your reports if you purchase the Agency Growth Kit. 

Making a report now will help you set a foundation from which you can set goals to improve on what is measurable. Once you have the elements in place for your ideal report, you can save it as a template for future use.

Step 3. Set Your Goals

Now that you have measured and reported where you stand today, you can start to set goals to improve those metrics. Ultimately, your marketing goals should always align with the business goals. 

If you’re increasing visibility via SEO, that visibility should directly impact the website’s sales, for example. So, make sure your goals align with the most important areas of the website you’re optimizing.

Since good SEO takes time to see results (commonly up to 6 to 12 months), what you measure as your KPIs will depend on what you can achieve incrementally towards your ultimate goals.

For example, here are some hypothetical KPIs you could set after taking the steps above:

  1. My website is slow and doesn’t have the best user experience. Site Health is currently at 60%. I’ll aim to increase that score from 60% to 90% by fixing all of the critical errors related to page speed and site performance that were found in the audit.
  2. Currently my site has no featured snippets, while the Position Tracking campaign tells me I have 13 featured snippet opportunities. I’ll aim to acquire at least 5 of those featured snippets with better content to gain more visibility and traffic to the site. 
  3. According to Position Tracking, my site has 25 keyword rankings that are in the top 20, but not the top 10. I’ll aim to get at least 5 of those keyword rankings that are highly relevant to my business to move up in the top 10.
  4. I only have backlinks from 15 referring domains, while Semrush says my 5 closest competitors all have at least 50 referring domains. I want to acquire backlinks from 40 new referring domains. 

Step 4. Make Improvements to Your Online Visibility/Brand

Once you’ve gotten started with a Semrush Project and your first report, the time will come to start working towards your goals. 

So, what can we do to help you build your campaigns? Well, a lot.

Instead of deep-diving into every potential strategy in this blog post, we gathered some of the most popular Semrush checklists and put them together into one packet, which you can download for free.

Inside, you’ll find checklists to help with the following:

Free Checklist Download 

Download this Getting Started PDF to help you on your Semrush journey.

Author Photo
Content Lead at Semrush. Here to help you solve your everyday marketing challenges with Semrush‘s tools and apps.
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