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SEMrush ToolBox #7: Organic Research tool



Craig: Hi guys and welcome to today's SEMrush webinar. Today I am joined by the very famous Aleyda Solis. Today we're gonna be talking about the Organic Research tool. It's the seventh in the SEMrush ToolBox series.

Aleyda can you tell anyone out there who doesn't know you, just a little bit about yourself?

Aleyda Solis: Well it's a pleasure to be here today, to be able to share with you... I do SEO consultancy for a living. I have a small boutique SEO consultancy, mainly targeted to do strategical and technical type of SEO. I do a lot of international SEO and mobile related type of SEO strategies too.

Organic Research Report Overview


Craig: A brief overview of the tool. The first thing, and I'm going to show you as I show every time I do these tools, is where you find it. Again, when you log in to SEMrush you've got your options down the left-hand side here.

Under the main analytics, if you open that up, you have your Organic Research button here. It's a relatively new tool on to SEMrush. A lot of people don't know it's there. It's not the same as sticking in your URL into the main tool in SEMrush and getting an overview of your website. This one's a bit more in-depth and very, very good.

The thing for me about this tool is it shows you your position changes. It filters it all down into these boxes and stuff here, so it's one of my favorite tools at the moment.

The first thing you want to make sure you do is, if you're in the UK, which is where I'm based, you make sure you select the right database first and foremost. You can choose through hundreds of different databases there to make sure you're clicked in the right data.

You can see there that I've got a 12.25 increase in keywords, a 15% increase in traffic, traffic cost, and non-branded traffic and branded traffic. You can see this nice little graph here of stuff steadily going up over the years. SEO is obviously something that I do, and I do a lot of training courses and stuff.

But what I really don't do and I'm sure most people will be able to relate to this, is spend a huge amount of time on my own website. I try and blog regularly to get tutorials and stuff, which is where most of my rankings come from, but I could do a hell of a lot more if time allowed.

It's steadily grown since I've launched the blog, you get some ups and downs along the way, but that's fine. After that, you've got the Top Organic Keywords and Top Position Changes.

Obviously, it gives you a brief amount here, and then you can open up to view all organic keywords. If I click on that it's going to get me all of the keywords there.

The same goes for Top Position Changes. It will show me the positions, the volume and all that kind of stuff. You can also look at new positions, lost positions. If you look at the options here, lost, improved or declined.

Not only are you seeing keywords that have just been crawled and indexed or dropped off, you're actually seeing things that have improved, and also the ones that have declined, which I quite like.

I can see there, “how to do a site audit” for example is not a huge search term. ”Massplanner”; that's a bit better, it's got 2900 searches. I've dropped a position for that and I'll probably look to do some work to push that further up. You can look at your declining keywords very easily. Great little feature there. That's the options there, there's four of them and I think that's quite a cool tool for me.

You've also got SERP Features, you scroll down. SERP Features is here, so you can see reviews, tweets, video and stuff like that linking to your domain name. You can also see things that are not linking to the domain name, which is things that I can add into the mix and I'm probably quite lazy with again. It's quite embarrassing to see that, so that's quite a cool little feature.

You can also see the Top Pages. My home page gets a lot of traffic, and then I've got a SEMrush Tutorial page where I've got all these videos showing people what goes on. That certainly brings in some traffic as well and ranks for a fair few keywords and some other tutorials and stuff there. Again, if I click on view all 199 pages, it'll show me all of the top pages on my website.

Top Subdomains, I don't really have any subdomains there, so that's not an option for me, but if you do have subdomains then you will be able to see what's going on there and how many keywords they rank for and where the traffic is coming from.

Then below you've got Main Organic Competitors, so I can see who the competition is, what common keywords we've got, how many keywords they actually rank for and stuff like that.

Then you've got a Competitive Position Map there, where that will give me my website compared to the competition. These things are quite good to give if you're reporting to clients or whatever. If you're using this for client stuff, then it's quite good to be able to show them screenshots of this kind of stuff there.

That's a generic overview. Everything else on that overview is then all filtered down into these other options; positions, position changes, competitors, pages and subdomains. These are all things that you can filter down.

Over here on the right-hand side, you can export this data. You can export all of those 49 keywords into the relevant files there. You can also print as PDF if you want to, off the top right-hand side if you want to export as a PDF.

You can also manage the columns here as well. Manage columns, you may not want to show your client the traffic percentage, so you can untick that box there. You can simply tick and untick what you want to show, and you can drag and drop.

The next one is position changes and again we can look at the filters. We can look at the top 10 position changes, and again it will provide the data and then we can look at new, lost, improved or declined.

Competitors is the next tab along, and again you can just drill down into your competitors’ information and by clicking on it you can export your data as well. It's a competitive positioning map, it's not something I particularly use personally because I don't really do SEO as such for clients.

I do more training and stuff, but this is quite good if you're wanting to show people information or a competitive positioning map. You're comparing to your clients' competitors. Again, you can export that as a PDF up on the right-hand side.

Pages is all about the top pages on your website and the traffic that comes to your website, how many keywords a page ranks for, ad keywords and backlinks.

You can use the filter, so you can filter by URL, and you can use some advanced filters there as well. But Pages is really really good to give you a very quick overview of what pages are working or what pages are maybe needing to be worked on.

That is, in a nutshell, l the Organic Research Tool. Great tool, it lays all the data out on a plate for you. You don't really have to run an audit or do anything. You just put your information in there and it populates it with the data required, and as I say, very simple and easy to use.

I'm just going to stop sharing my screen now, and I'm going to hand you over to Aleyda.

Aleyda Solis: Perfect. This is the tool that I use whenever I start with a new SEO process and I don't know the website at all. I don't know for which keywords it is ranking, if it has suffered any type of drop or penalization or redesign, and I want to have a proper overview.

Because you will see that you can have a very quick outlook of it, but you can certainly start digging much more and getting so much value also. Not only for a quick overview, but also for a proper analysis. Competition analysis, and to identify opportunities and challenges already on the side.

I saw that you already covered the basics, so these are some of the keywords that I usually try to address and answer with the information that the tool provides. The first much more meaningful data that the tool provides is the ranked keywords. The current positions of this website for this particular country.

As you mentioned it's important that we select and identify the country database, but also if for example my website here Remoters, that is a project that I have about remote work. It is not targeting any country in particular, it is targeting the language.

What I usually do is to check not only the US database, but I also switch between databases, the UK ones and also the Spain one because we have a Spanish version, to identify the same opportunity.

It's great that this can be done very very quick with SEMrush. And then of course regarding the top terms, I love that we can prioritize based on the traffic value that they drive to the website. Not necessarily because they are targeting high search volume keyword that means that they are ranking so well at the moment to be driving enough value.

The combination of these different metrics, I find them very very valuable. Which are the terms that are targeting high search and very popular keywords that are already ranking in the top positions.

For example, I come here and take a look at which are those keywords that maybe right now are not ranking already in the top first, second and third position, but yes they are in the top 20 and they are addressing and targeting a very popular term.

I can see here very low hanging fruit because it would be far easier for me to bring these terms that are already in the top 20 in the top five positions, than start ranking for them from scratch.

Identifying Irrelevant Keywords

Then, of course, this is the thing. It's a great opportunity to identify here if I am addressing keywords that are not relevant at all. I have identified in the past in a few occasions the website was indexing some pages that were not meant to be indexed.

They were getting some type of attack and ended up even ranking for some terms that were not relevant at all and actually a little bit negative. So you can identify also and verify if the keywords are actually meaningful at all, and of course not really necessarily target and prioritize those terms that are not relevant at all.

For example, in my case in Remoters, we have some pages in the Tools section addressing the names of these tools and companies hiring remotely. I can see that they're driving traffic because they're ranked for the name. But for me, it's much more meaningful to rank for remote year reviews.


It's great to see that the rankings have improved a lot lately for this particular term. I can double check very easily here if the page ranking for this term is actually the relevant one.

Keyword Trends Over Time


Then what I love is the integration with the other SEMrush tools. For example, if I click here, I will get at a much more granular basis on the information of everything related to this particular keyword.

The trend over time, related terms that I can use to expand and improve and optimize this term, and which are the other websites ranking in better positions than me so I can identify the gap with mine. I can identify what I am still not doing so well that I should improve really, to improve the positions.

Another important aspect that I usually do is that I like to go and identify the opportunity to be included in SERP features. I love to go directly here and I look for those keywords that have for example a featured snippet or a featured video.

In the case of my capabilities to generate content and optimize for this content, I can go and select this type of content for which it will be worth it for me to be included. Or to better understand how my results are actually shown.

The trend over time is also important, and also another thing that you can eliminate and you can select the different tables here. The metrics shown in the tables. Actually, you can leave only those particular aspects that are meaningful for you.

I can go and take a look at the preview for any keyword that I am particularly ranking to check out the SERP. And I can see, for example, even if I am in the third position, maybe the click-through rate is not great or I am seeing that I'm not bringing so much traffic.

Of course, it's because there is a big SERP feature here. So probably here I will need to do much better work in order to get much better engagement from my user.

Something important here, and I don't know if you noticed. I am here in the rankings for January because I was checking out historical data, and this is something actually super useful. I can go back of course at my current rankings for my website.

But if at any point I go here to the Position Changes report that Craig also talked about before, and I can go and take a look and say look oh my God, maybe last year some of my pages were targeted by one of the Google updates. Maybe I lost a few rankings at that point.

On one hand, I can come here and take a look at this, which are the positions that I have in this case declined or lost, and making the most out of this evolution over time. The position changes over time, to better understand how my website may have been hit by any update or if at some point I did a migration. How the website lost a lot of traffic or visibility per term. I can come here and take a look at that.

Then there is another way that I also like is to come back here to the overall positions and go to the specific date after identifying which was the date when my traffic dropped or my rankings dropped. I can come here and go to the historical data, to better understand what was the specific position photo at that point in time.

Mobile Versus Desktop Rankings and User Behavior  

A little bit more additional analysis that I do is compare the rankings and positions that I'm targeting with my desktop version, within the desktop search results versus the mobile ones to understand also the behavior of the user.

Are the users searching for the same type of queries? Are they searching something different? In the case that I have specific mobile pages, which is not the case because this website is responsive, but in case I had specific mobile pages, are the mobile URLs effectively ranked here as they should or not?

I can already identify potential mobile optimization opportunities there. I can identify and understand better the gap between the mobile queries versus the desktop ones.

Something that I was trying to look before and couldn't find, the SERP preview for mobile specifically. I can better understand not only in desktop but also in mobile, how my results are shown.

Of course, I can also see if the volume trend is positive, it is negative, it is much worth it for me to rank for synonyms or related terms instead of just specific ones. But it allows me to dig much further and to better understand at a much higher detail why I'm ranking in certain ways and use the segments to identify opportunities to improve my rankings directly.

I love this Top Pages report because it not only tells me these are the pages that are bringing much more traffic but something that I love to do before that is to click here, so I am shown the backlinks from any of these pages to better understand if for example any of these pages are actually very important pages that I really want to push further.

For example this one here, The Best Virtual Mailboxes for Digital Nomads, for which I am ranking already in the third position. I really want to push this page further and allow this page to run in the first position because I can see also that the search volume for that query is not trivial. But I can see here that there are no backlinks identified for this particular page coming from any other websites.

On the other hand, I can see that my Laptop for Digital Nomad page does have external backlinks, so this is something that I know here right away that I want to prioritize. I really want to start promoting this page to start attracting external links to this page to improve further its popularity.

Besides this, if I see that there is a page actually ranking for many, many, many keywords. I really want to see if all the keywords for which this page is ranking are actually meaningful. I can see if these are actually relevant terms for this particular page. If not I can also identify opportunities to optimize this page further or even create new pages that will better address to these other terms.

You really want to understand why sometimes you see a huge increase in ranked terms, ranked queries, but you don't necessarily see this reflected even in the organic traffic information given by SEMrush itself.

Remember that by default we are shown the graph here of the keywords of everything that SEMrush has, and of course, SEMrush has a huge database of keywords. Many of them might be less relevant than others of course, but honestly, it's you to see the potential that you have with the keywords that are already in the top 50 or the top 20.

But on most occasions, these keywords are not in the top 10 positions. I always love to filter them out and select and see what is the actual trend of my top three positions, and my top ten positions, because these are usually much highly better correlated with the actual quality of my website and meaningful trend behavior of my organic evolution. Because these are the ones that are actually bringing traffic to my site.

I also love that I can click on any of this and I will actually be able to see at what point in the past I have been ranking for particular keywords.

Analyzing Your Competition

Then let me see, of course, the competition analysis. For me, when I am starting a new SEO process in a new industry, it's very very likely that we don't know which are the organic competitors of my site and of course, a client has a good idea of their competitors.

The ones that are sharing more keywords with my site, and that are also ranking for many keywords and have a higher traffic.

Maybe I want to analyze and verify if I have lost traffic, if I have dropped because of an update of Google, but I also want to check if that is the case for my competitors. Here I have switched to this other website I consider my competitor, and I want to take a look if there are any meaningful losses in the last let's say six months, and if they haven't recovered yet.


If so, maybe this is a good opportunity for me to start addressing these terms because maybe something is happening with this website and I can leverage that opportunity, because somehow they are not correctly performing and they are losing those rankings.

This is more or less what I wanted to show you today, to show you a little bit how I dig and I go through the different data.

This allows you to have a broader overview of opportunities, of keywords that we might not yet be addressing because of whatever reason. I will say don't do this type of analysis only at the beginning of the SEO process. Do it frequently. Do it after every couple of months, every three months even.

Even if you ranked your specific keywords, come back here and understand which are these other potentially relevant synonyms or related terms.

Do the same with your competition because they are also always evolving, and you want to identify additional opportunities and include much more and revise much more. Maybe eliminate a few things that you're doing; terms, queries that you are targeting in your SEO process that are not performing as well and start including more that you can identify at an ongoing basis.

I can see how this allowed me to have this broader overview, not only of my top terms, which of course are important for me but of any important or meaningful opportunity here that might be happening. Not only with my website but also in my sector. Hopefully, this has provided you a little bit broader view of what you can do with all this data.

Craig: Perfect. That was certainly very in depth and I think a lot of people enjoyed that, and while you were talking about that are you able to allow people to see those slides and stuff you made? There's a few people asking in the YouTube chat if they're going to be able to get to see the slides that you made.

Aleyda Solis: Yes, sure thing. I can definitely share them over SlideShare or share a link over Twitter with a hashtag right now. Don't worry.

Should You Focus on Mobile Rankings First?

Craig: We have a question from Stephanie Manly, and Stephanie's saying, "If your traffic is mostly mobile, should we be working for mobile rankings first?"

Aleyda Solis: Yes, especially nowadays with Google's mobile-first index. Especially fundamentally if your website has already been moved to the mobile-first index, you should be primarily nowadays checking those rankings because these are the ones that should be much more meaningful right now.

At the end of the day, it's about which are the devices that your audience use and your visitors use. If a high share of your organic traffic you can identify on Google Analytics is already coming from mobile devices, definitely be checking out and updating and revising and following up with these trends, not only the desktop ones.

What to do About SERP Ranking Fluctuations?

Craig: The next question is from John Duncan, and John is asking what your recommended approach when a site's keyword rankings are jumping around extensively from one day to the next.

Aleyda Solis: This is the thing, we cannot obsess over rankings on a day-to-day basis because indeed they can change, in some sectors they can change quite a lot. There's a lot of freshness factor going on. We should be focused on the trend over time.

For example, if we are doing certain efforts to improve the rankings for certain queries, I am not going to be checking every single day because I will go crazy.

But what you want to see is the consistency of these rankings over time. I will check week by week, every two weeks, and of course at the end of each month to see if it has increased or decreased. Even when there is an update, whenever there is a confirmation from Google that there has been an update in Twitter, everybody goes running to their rank trackers and see if there are drops or not, or they come to SEMrush.

In some cases we can already see a little bit of drop, in others it takes time. We end up seeing a couple of days after, three days after that it has dropped or it has increased or whatever.

We should leave enough time to see an actual trend. It should be about the trend and not about the specific positions because we know that also positions change based on the location, based on the language, etc. the personalized behavior of the user in the SERPs, etc.

How to Approach Pages That Rank High for Irrelevant Keywords?

Craig: Going on from that, Arya has asked a question. What're your recommendations for webpages that are ranking high for irrelevant keywords?

Aleyda Solis: This is the thing, you cannot stop that from happening. Did you see my case with Remoters? We have the details of the companies that publish their jobs adverts on our site.

I prefer to rank for remote jobs in Europe or something like that. If it is something relevant and that won't hurt I won’t noindex those pages just to make them to not rank for that.

It depends. If your business model is attracting traffic and you want more traffic, you can identify opportunities to be a resourceful result at the end of the day and make the most out of that even if you don't see as super related to your specific topic.

Then, on the other hand, I understand that you might be worried to not necessarily give the best engagement signals with those pages because the bounce rate might be very high because you don't provide that much value.

Then there are two ways to address that. Whether improve those pages and make them meaningful if it is an actual query. If not, see if it is actually necessary for you or important for you to have that page at all, because if it is not bringing any value, why do you have it indexed? What is the role that it plays in your conversion journey?

In some cases, it's something that you cannot prevent and it will hurt, but in other cases, you should be asking like, "Oh my God, it's only bringing me trashy type of traffic. It's not adding any value. It's actually just showing poor engagement about my website. Is it actually worth it for me to keep it there?" These are the type of questions that you should answer, and based on those answers is that you will take one or the other decision.

It's not black and white, you should analyze and identify the potential best opportunity for you while keeping the cost manageable too, because I understand that otherwise, you will end up with billions of pages indexed that don't necessarily bring value.

How to Improve Declining Keyword Rankings?

Craig: Perfectly answered again. Someone was asking, have you got any recommendations, or what are your recommendations if you have keywords that are declining, what sort of things are you doing to get them back up?

Aleyda Solis: That is a great question. Actually, I want to understand first which pages these keywords are ranking. This is the first answer that I want for that because maybe they are declining because there are cannibalization issues.

I want to understand which are the pages that are ranking for them (keywords). These are the actual relevant pages. Also, that page that is ranking for them, if it is the meaningful one, the relevant one, I want you to not only optimize the metadata and improve a little bit the content or internal linking, and also try to attract links.

I will go and do a comparison of the top pages that are ranking above this particular page for that particular keyword, and I want to understand the gap of those pages versus mine.

Why is Google ranking (them) better for this keyword? Do they address better the query? How they are including those terms in the metadata? Are they including more content or what is the format of the content? Are they attracting a lot of links internally or externally to that particular page, and this is how they are pushing it further?

Craig: Perfect. That is pretty much us for today Aleyda, so thank you very much for answering those questions and going in depth as much you did. We are back again with another SEMrush ToolBox webinar in a couple of weeks time...and it will be on the log file analyzer tool

Aleyda Solis: Thank you, goodbye.

Craig: Cheers.

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